Orléans, Jeanne d’Arc and France

The very essence of mentioning Orleans brings back my history coming to France. It was on my trip to know my now wife that I passed by here on our way to Spain, right down the center of town back in 1990, still is going strong, and many visits afterward.

This is the epicenter of the history of modern France, when Jeanne d’Arc gave back the city to the French king Charles VII from the English invaders. This is the epic story of a young lady rise to military genius and more importantly to be later the Patron Saint of France, doctor of the Catholic Church. Let me tell you a bit about Orléans.

It is a city in the department of the Loiret No 25 in the region Centre of France.  It is easily reachable on the autoroute A10 direction Bordeaux from Paris. Near it passes the A71 towards the mediterranean becoming later the A75 . The A19 linked the city with the A10 and A6 north of the city. Route planning is ok with viamichelin at http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/ is the only way I have visited the city ,by car. However, it is well linked by train from Paris Austerlitz station , the SNCF train station is at avenue de Paris near shopping center place d’Arc;the bus station is also next to the train station. The TER centre train webpage is here http://www.ter-sncf.com/regions/centre/fr/default.aspx , just to add this was the route to go to Paris at Gare d’Orsay, today its the museum. There is a local bus/tramway service SemTao here http://www.reseau-tao.fr/plan_horaires-vos-lignes.html

The city goes back several thousands years but the most important event was that took place with Jeanne d’Arc and its liberation. Liberated on May 8 1429AD. Later after much destruction in WWII it was liberated again by Gen Patton of the US Army in 1945. The history associated with it its huge not enough space for this blog.  The feast of Jeanne d’Arc is held every year on the 29 of April to May 8 celebrations, there is a video reproduction and more in French at this webpage, keep an eye for 2011, http://www.fetesjeannedarc.com/

 I will go on to my favorite tourist sites next.

One must come here to see the Cathédrale Sainte-Croix at 10 rue Gobelets,where Jeanne d’Arc came to celebrate Mass in 1429AD. There is a church here since 330AD destroyed ,fires, and always rebuilt from kings of France to 1829 when finally all restored. its great inside and statue of Jeanne d’Arc is superb.  The Hôtel Groslot, built between 1550-1555 by Jacques Groslot bailif of Orleans. kings Charles IX, Henri III,and Henri IV stayed here ! It now houses the mayors office of the city since 1790, it is splendidly richly decorated. The Maison de Jeanne d’Arc is where she lodge from april 24 to May 9 1429AD, rebuilt to identical after its destruction with the bombings of WWII.   The place du Martroi, symbolic heart of the city has a huge equestrian statue of Jeanne d’Arc where she is bigger than the horse, at WWII this sculpture was partially destroyed and it was rebuilt by sculptor Paul Belmondo ,father of the famous actor Jean-Paul Belmonde.  The Hôtel Hatte, 15C, where it now houses the Center Charles Péguy, a native writer/poet see it in French at the city of Orleans site http://www.orleans.fr/sports-loisirs-culture/bibliotheques-et-archives/les-bibliotheques-specialisees/centre-charles-peguy.html .  The Church of Notre Dame de Recouvrance built between 1513-1519 has a choir altar from Second Empire in renaissance style. For walks do it by rue de Bourgogne and rue de l’Empereur for wonderful medieval ambiance as well as Rue Royale. The Musée des Beaux-Arts, Place Ste Croix, is very nice with works from Velazquez, Van Dyck, Jan Brueghel, Tintoret,  and works of Rodin,Maillol, Picasso etc, really nice. admission is 3€ only for adults.open tuesdays to saturdays and sundays afternoons. Walk too the pont George V the oldest bridge in the city, built in 1751-1760 and runs for about 1,2 kms.

We stayed there at the Mercure hotel at 44-46 quai Barentin overlooking the river Loire and near pont George V.  http://www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-0581-mercure-orleans-centre/index.shtml , usual great service by the chain,pool and good resto. walking distance to the best and easy in and out of the city by car. However,there is plenty of accommodation in the city to choose for all budgets.

For eating we ate at Le Viking, 233-236 rue Bourgogne , gastronomic and French at its best, pavé de boeuf over slate roof tile!webpage  http://www.viking-resto.com/ .  the Mercure hotel resto Le Chaland was good too and cheaper at menus from 13,50€. For a drink or a night out try O’lodge, place de la republique, very simple meals of good value but the best is the bar at night with two floors and 6 rooms with different deco and ambiance, see the carte bar menu at webpage http://www.olodge.com/orleans/lodge-orleans-page.php?ID=5

for shopping try the Chocolaterie Royale at 51 rue Royale, tel+33 02 38 53 93 43, main road leading to jeanne d’Arc statue cant missed it. For shopping wines as always try to do everywhere I go ::) you should head for L’Ange Vins Cave at 43 rue du Poirier, webpage http://www.langevinscave.com/ . For groceries go to supermarket Intermarché at 47 rue du Faubourg Bannier ,webpage http://www.intermarche.com/magasin_infos_pratiques/fortitude-orleans-45000 or even bigger the Carrefour by Place d’Arc and train station webpage http://www.carrefour.fr/magasin/orleans

The tourist office for the city of Orléans is at http://www.tourisme-orleans.com/fr/accueil/index.php , and for English direct I give you the region Centre or Loire Valley tourist webpage here http://www.loirevalleytourism.com/index.html

Enjoy the city of Jeanne d’Arc. I did too ::)

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