Located just one hour from Paris, attractive Orléans in central France is charming in every sense of the word.
Featuring whitewashed, perfectly-preserved facades, a bustling town centre that never feels too busy and a lively waterfront bordering the Loire River, the city is a popular stop for those visiting the Loire Valley.
This post may contain affiliate links, which Globe Guide receives compensation for with each click or purchase at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Best known for its links to Joan of Arc (which is hard to forget given there are statues, dedications and even an annual celebration dedicated to the saint), it also has a proud maritime heritage thanks to its coveted spot on the waterway. For those who still need convincing that the city is well worth a stop, here are the best things to do in Orleans France to see its adorable, photogenic side.
1) When it put up this gorgeous colourful umbrella display which is the thing Instagram dreams are made of.
2) When schoolchildren rode the antique carousel and splashed around in the fountains in the sun-soaked main square, Place du Martroi.
3) When the half-timber houses proved to be the perfect photo-op.
4) When this sculpture was erected near the waterfront as temporary artwork, and people realized it’s so cute that they should probably keep it.
5) When a moment of solace away from the hustle and bustle of city life was found on this quiet side street.
6) When the architecture of important civic buildings like city hall and the courthouse impressed.
7) When shopaholics and people-watchers got their fix along Rue de la République.
8) When the afternoon sun softly lit the impressive Cathedral Sainte-Croix, a 17th century gothic cathedral which is considered to be the city’s most significant monument.
9) When the Loire River was filled with boats for the bi-annual Festival de Loire, which sees the waterfront transformed into a festival celebrating the city’s maritime heritage. Revellers don medieval-era costumes and take part in food and fun, as a flurry of traditional boats descend on Orléans. The festival concludes with a spectacular fireworks display.
10) When one of those boats had horses on it. Because why not.
Where to stay in Orléans
- Villa Marjane: A nice respite from the busy city, this property is like mix between a B&B and hotel just outside Orleans and one hour from Paris. Guests love the idyllic gardens and excellent service. Click here to book
- Hotel d’Orleans: The beautiful, modern rooms at this hotel in the city centre are a nice change from the more traditional types typically found in this area. Breakfast is included, the top sights are at your doorstep, and it’s very well priced. Click here to book
Book a Loire Valley tour
Globe Guide explored Orléans as part of the #FranceNature challenge in collaboration with Atout France and Air France. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
- Amazing castles to visit in France’s fairytale Loire Valley
- Canoeing to a castle: An epic visit to France’s Château de Chenonceau
- Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France
- La Batelière sur Loire: The boat hotel in Loire Valley, France
SHARE THE PINSPIRATION! CLICK THE IMAGES BELOW TO PIN:
First off, had no idea a town existed called Orleans (first thought of New Orleans in LA). It looks so cute and quaint! Love those timber houses. And can’t believe you saw a boat with horses on it! Such a cool experience.
Hahah yes the festival was so fun!
Orleans looks stunning – those half timbered houses are common in the UK but look quite different over here! And the Cathedral Sainte-Croix must be worth a visit
Totally! I’d seen them in Germany before too
Orleans looks like it just exudes charm, what a picturesque place to visit. I had done a three day cycle trip in the Loire Valley, but missed Orleans as our route took us from Tours to Saumur. It has been one of my most memorable travel experiences to date. I’m motived to return for another cycling trip and include Orleans in my itineary. Thank you for the inspiration!
That would be an awesome place for a cycling trip! I did one to a castle, and another to a vineyard. Both awesome 🙂
Oh, your post so much reminded me why I really want to go back to the river Loire in France. This entire part of France is adorable, not only the city of Orléans. I will try to go off-season (or shoulder) to avoid the crowds and get a more authentic feel for the region around Orléans… Maybe as soon as next year!
I love the Loire Valley too!
Festival de Loire sounds delightful! This town looks so quaint and like a dream to spend the day exploring! Love your photographs!
I hadn’t heard of Orleans, France, but I have been to the Loire Valley long enough to tour Chenonceau and that’s all. I’ve heard so much about the Loire Valley and would love to explore towns like Orleans. You’re right — the government buildings are most impressive, and the gothic cathedral too. I love the cobblestone roads, narrow alleys, and the river festival!
You had me at half-timbered buildings. I love them, though I usually think of Tudor England when I see them. I love the Loire Valley area for the chateaux and now I have one more reason to go.
Orleans looks like such a wonderful getaway! Your pictures really show what a special spot it is. I love half timbered buildings, they give everything a storybook feel and those horses on the boats! Just so perfectly fun!
Orléans looks like such a cute town! Love that beautiful umbrella display and those half-timber houses are adorable. Visiting during the Festival de Loire would be really fun—the boats look neat and the celebrations sound like a lot of fun! You’ve definitely convinced us to visit Orléans next time we are in France!
Orleans sounds so charming, and I have a special interest in Joan of Arc so I do want to visit from that aspect. The umbrella display is so cute and colorful! And I love the timber houses – big architecture fan right here!