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Stage town for the seventh time.

Prefecture of Loiret (43)

Population: 115,000 (Orléanais)

Specialities: andouilles de Jargeau, Orléans mustard, coteaux du Giennois wines. Orléans vinegar, Cotignac d'Orléans.

Personalities: Joan of Arc, Hugues Capet and the Capetian kings, Dukes of Orléans, Jean Calvin (theologian), Jean Zay (former minister and Resistance fighter), Maurice Genevoix, Guillaume Budé, Charles Péguy, Georges Bataille (writers), Florian Rousseau, Patrice Esnault (cycling), Bruno Germain, Reynald Pédros, Florian Thauvin (football).

Sport: US Orléans Loiret judo, Orléans-Loiret Basket, US Orléans Loiret (football). Competitions: Orléans Open (challenger tennis), Sabre World Cup (fencing).

Economy: IT and technology (Téléperformance, Expertline, Louis Harris, TDSI), automotive (Michelin tyre manufacturing plant), pharmaceuticals (France's leading pharmaceuticals cluster, with 70% of national production), cosmetics ("Cosmetic valley" is a national competitiveness cluster, making the Centre the second region for cosmetics and perfumes), transport and logistics (9,000 employees, France's leading logistics platform).

Festivals: Joan of Arc Festival (May), Festival de Loire (Europe's largest gathering of river mariners), Fête de la Saint-Fiacre, Archilab (archotecture), Festival Orléans Joue (September). 

Labels: Ville d'art et d'histoire (Town of Art and History) / Territoire vélo (Cycling Region) / Terre de Jeux 2024 (2024 Games Land) / Ville fleurie 4 (Flower City).

Websites / FB / Twitter: www.orleans-metropole.frwww.tourisme-orleansmetropole.comwww.orleans.fr / www.orleans-metropole.frwww.tourisme-orleansmetropole.comwww.orleans-metropole.fr/tourisme/webcamshttps://sortir.orleans-metropole.frhttps://www.loiret.fr/ / https://www.centre-valdeloire.fr/


ORLÉANS AND CYCLING

Orléans hosted the Tour de France six times between 1964 and 2001, when the city was the start of a stage to Évry won by Erik Zabel. For the last finish in the city, in 1974, Eddy Merckx rode à la Merckx. He emerged 12 km from the finish of the morning half-stage to win solo. But perhaps the cannibal had bitten off more than he could chew, as in the afternoon he was beaten by ten seconds in a 37.5-km time-trial by Michel Pollentier.   In 1964, Jean Stablinski dominated the first finish in town with the French champion's jersey on his back. Two years later, it was another Frenchman, Pierre Beuffeuil, who won after a 206-km breakaway. The most famous cyclist born in Orléans has never competed in the Tour de France, and for good reason. He is a track cyclist and one of the best that France has produced: Florian Rousseau, triple Olympic champion and winner of ten world track titles, including three in individual speed. He is now in charge of Olympic preparation for the French Cycling Federation. Other Orléans-born riders include Patrice Esnault, winner of a stage in the Vuelta and credited with five participations in the Tour between 1986 and 1993, and Frédéric Garnier, who took part in the 1988 Tour de France. Jean Maréchal, winner of Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Tours in 1930, before being relegated to second place in the Queen of the Classics, was also born in Orléans, but by chance, as his parents were just passing through!


SIGHTS:  

  • Holy Cross Cathedral

Construction: 1601 to 1829.

Style: Gothic, neo-Gothic.

History: Named in honour of the relics of the Holy Cross, Orléans cathedral took almost six centuries to build (1287-1829). The presence of these relics is certain since the 7th century, and possible since the 4th. It became a royal cathedral when Charles II "The Bald", Robert "The Pious", son of Hughes Capet, and Louis VI "The Fat" were crowned kings of France. Its long construction was always supported by the kings of France, notably Henry IV and Louis XIV. Joan of Arc came to pray at the Cathedral on 8 May 1429. Since then, every 8 May, a solemn mass in her honour has been celebrated there during the multi-centenary celebrations of the liberation of Orléans. She was declared a saint on 16 May 1920, in recognition of her deeds during her short life (19 years). The cathedral was made a basilica in 1855. This honorary title is given by the Pope to a church where many of the faithful come on special pilgrimage to pray.

Characteristics: It is one of the five largest Gothic cathedrals in France (140-m long, 53-m wide with a spire reaching 106 m). The magnificently sculpted woodwork in the choir and the stained-glass windows telling the story of Joan of Arc are among its "treasures", as are the 11 richly endowed 13th-century chapels that form its chevet.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1862.  

  • Hôtel Groslot

Built: 1552

Style: Renaissance.

History: this private mansion, also known as the Grande-Maison de l'Étape, the Maison du Gouverneur (House of the Governor) or the Intendance, was once Orléans Town Hall and is now used for weddings. Built at the instigation of the Groslot family, it welcomed French kings Francis II and Charles IX, as well as the regent Catherine de’ Medici.

Characteristics: it has a characteristic facade of red bricks arranged in a diamond pattern. It consists of a central building accompanied by two Renaissance-style wings and a double-flight staircase. In the 16th century, the town house was limited to its central section. Its two wings were built after it was bought by the town council. The Hôtel Groslot comprises four main rooms: the VIP lounge, the former council chamber, the former mayor's office and the wedding hall. The interior decoration, in the troubadour Gothic style, was carried out between 1850 and 1854 under the direction of architect André Delton. The interior features numerous Joan of Arc memorabilia, paintings, Aubusson tapestries, wooden chests and other period furniture.

Special features: the statue of Joan of Arc created by Princess Marie d'Orléans and placed in front of the porch dates from the mid-19th century. It still bears the marks of bullets fired at it during the liberation of Orléans in August 1944.

Listed as: Historical Monument in 1846 and 1862.  

  • Fêtes johannines (Joan of Arc celebrations)

Founded: 1432

Characteristics: founded to celebrate the victorious siege of the city of Orléans led by Joan of Arc in 1429. They are presided over each year by a well-known figure, and traditionally by the President of the Republic in the year following his election. The celebrations follow a ritual established in 1855 and consist mainly of a parade through the high points of the town where Joan of Arc passed. Each year, a young woman is chosen to embody Joan of Arc.

Listed as: inventory of France's intangible cultural heritage.  

  • Hôtel des Créneaux

Built: 1498-1518

Style: Gothic and Renaissance.

History and characteristics: located in the heart of the medieval town, Hôtel des Créneaux was Orléans' first town hall. After the French Revolution, it became the seat of the Court, then from 1825 to 1981, it housed the Fine Arts Museum. It now houses part of the Orléans Music School. The buildings were erected in several stages, mainly between 1445 and 1513, first on the inside, against the original rampart, then on the outside, on newly acquired land. The façade on rue Sainte-Catherine dates from the 16th century. From an architectural point of view, it is remarkable for its alternation of Gothic and Renaissance styles, including the cornice decorated with shells. The Passage du Saloir takes its name from the salt granary that runs alongside it. This is where salt was stored, the trading of which was a municipal monopoly.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1840.  

  • Loire Quays

Renovated in the early 2000s, the quays of the Loire are a popular area for walkers, sports enthusiasts and cyclists on the Loire à Vélo trail. They offer a view of the natural heritage of the Loire and an exceptional setting for events such as the Festival de Loire, Europe's largest gathering of river sailors (next to be held in September 2025).  

  • La Source floral park

Created in 1963 as part of an ambitious urban planning project, Parc Floral, the Loiret's leading tourist attraction, takes the form of a natural site, on the border between the Sologne hillside and the plain of the Loire Valley. At its centre is the spring of the Loiret. Here, you can stroll through the plant collections and take advantage of the many events and activities on offer.  

  • Museum of Fine Arts

Its permanent collection, which covers artistic creation from the 15th to the 20th century, includes a collection of Italian, Flemish and Dutch paintings, as well as an important collection of French works from the 17th and 18th centuries, including a remarkable cabinet of pastels, the second largest in France after the Louvre. The museum also has a collection of 10,000 drawings and 50,000 prints. 


TO EAT:  

  • Jargeau andouille sausage

Andouille from Jargeau (18 km from Orléans) dates back to the Middle Ages, but only really became famous in the 19th century, thanks in particular to the famous brotherhood of the “chevaliers du goûte-andouille” (Knights of the Andouille Tasters), created in 1971. Made from pork tripe and meat, and sometimes onions, shallots or parsley, Jargeau andouille is cooked in a broth of spices and herbs. Once braised or grilled on the barbecue, it is served with lentils, beans or mashed potatoes, accompanied by a glass of white wine from the Loire Valley. The international competition for the best andouille sausage is held in Jargeau every second Saturday in March. The town also hosts the andouille fair on the second Sunday in June.

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