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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the French commune of Orléans; for other meanings see Orleans (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 47°54′09″N 1°54′32″E / 47.9025°N 1.9090°E / 47.9025; 1.9090

Commune of Orléans

France Orleans panorama 01.jpg
Orléans and the Loire River
Orléans is located in France
Country France
Region Centre (capital)
Department Loiret (préfecture)
Arrondissement Orléans
Canton Chief town of 6 cantons
Intercommunality Orléans Val de Loire
Mayor Serge Grouard (RadicalUMP)
Elevation 90–124 m (300–410 ft)
(avg. 116 m/381 ft)
Land area1 27.48 km2 (10.61 sq mi)
Population2 116,490  (2009)
 - Density 4,239 /km2 (10,980 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 45234/ 45000
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Orléans (pronounced: [ɔʁleɑ̃]) is a city in north-central France, about 130 kilometres (81 mi) southwest of Paris. It is the capital of the Loiret department and of the Centre region.

Orléans is located on the Loire River where the river curves south towards the Massif Central.

The city of New Orleans (still called in French La Nouvelle-Orléans), in the United States is named after the commune of Orléans.



Orléans is located in the septentrional bend of the Loire, which crosses from east to west. Orléans belongs to the vallée de la Loire sector between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes-sur-Loire, which was in 2000 inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The capital of Orléanais, 120 kilomètres south-south-west of Paris, it is bordered to the north by the Beauce region and the forêt d'Orléans, and the Orléans-la-Source neighborhood and the Sologne region to the south.

Five bridges in the town cross the river :

  • Pont de l'Europe
  • Pont du Maréchal Joffre (also called pont Neuf)
  • Pont George-V (also called pont Royal), carrying the commune tramway
  • Pont René-Thinat
  • Pont de Vierzon (rail bridge)

To the south of the Loire (on the "rive gauche") is to be found a small hill (102 m (334.65 ft) at the pont Georges-V, 110 m (360.89 ft) at the place du Martroi) which gently rises to 125 m (410.10 ft) at la Croix Fleury, at the limits of Fleury-les-Aubrais.

Conversely, the north (on the "rive droite") has a gentle depression to about 95 m (311.68 ft) above sea level (at Saint-Marceau) between the Loire and the Loiret, designated a "zone inondable" (flood-risk zone).

At the end of the 1960s the Orléans-la-Source quarter was created, 12 kilometres (7 mi)to the south of the original commune and separated from it by the Val d'Orléans and the Loiret River (whose source is in the Parc Floral de la Source). This quarter's altitude varies from about 100 to 110 m (328.08 to 360.89 ft).

Orléans is an autoroute intersection : the A10 (linking Paris to Bordeaux) links to the commune outskirts, and A71 (whose bridge over the Loire is outside the commune limits) begins here, heading for the Mediterranean via Clermont-Ferrand (where it becomes the A75).


The Loire and navigation

The Loire bursting its banks at Orléans

In Orléans, the Loire is separated by a submerged dike known as the dhuis into the Grande Loire to the north, no longer navigable, and the Petite Loire to the south. This dike is just one part of a vast system of construction that previously allowed the Loire to remain navigable.

The Loire was formerly an important navigation and trading route, but now large ships can only navigate the estuary up to about Nantes.

Boats on the river were traditionally flat-bottomed boats, with large but foldable masts to gather wind from above the river banks but also to allow them to pass under bridges – they are known as gabarre, futreau, and so on, still on view for tourists near pont Royal.

The river's irregular flow strongly limits traffic on it, in particular at its ascent, though this can be overcome by boats being given a tow.

An "Inexplosible"-type paddle steamer owned by the mairie was put in place in August 2007, facing place de la Loire and containing a bar.

Every two years, the Festival de Loire recalls the role played by the river in the commune's history.

Joined to it, on the river's north bank near the town centre, is the Canal d'Orléans, which connects to the Canal du Loing and the Canal de Briare at Buges near Montargis. The canal is no longer used along its whole length. Its route within Orléans runs parallel to the river, separated from it by a wall or muret, with a promenade along the top. Its last pound was transformed into an outdoor swimming pool in the 1960s, then filled in. It was reopened in 2007 for the "fêtes de Loire", with the intention of reviving it and installing a pleasure-boat port there.


Orléans experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb), similar to much of central France.

Climate data for Orléans
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.4
Average low °C (°F) .9
Precipitation mm (inches) 52
Sunshine hours 65 88 136 160 211 195 217 237 166 113 73 49 1,710
Source: Météo France [1] 2010-01-17


See also fr:Histoire d'Orléans.

Prehistory and Roman

See also Cenabum.

Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire. The emperor Aurelian rebuilt the city, renaming it Aurelianum, "city of Aurelian" (cité d'Aurélien), which evolved into Orléans.[2]

Accompanying the Vandals, the Alans crossed the Loire in 408. One of their groups, under Goar, joined the Roman forces of Flavius Aetius to fight Attila when he invaded Gaul in 451, taking part in the Battle of Châlons under their king Sangiban. Installed in Orléans and along the Loire, they were unruly (killing the town's senators when they felt they had been paid too slowly or too little) and resented by the local inhabitants. Many inhabitants around the present city have names bearing witness to the Alan presence – Allaines, Allainville, etc.

Early Middle Ages

In the Merovingian era, the city was capital of the kingdom of Orléans following Clovis I's division of the kingdom, then under the Capetians it became the capital of a county then duchy held in appanage by the house of Valois-Orléans. The Valois-Orléans family later acceded to the throne of France via Louis XII then Francis I. In 1108, one of the few consecrations of a French monarch to occur outside of Reims occurred at Orléans, when Louis VI the Fat was consecrated in Orléans cathedral by Daimbert, archbishop of Sens.

High Middle Ages

Orléans in September 1428, the time of the Siege of Orléans.

The city was always a strategic point on the Loire, for it was sited at the river's most northerly point, and thus its closest point to Paris. There were few bridges over the dangerous river Loire, and Orléans had one of them, and so became – with Rouen and Paris – one of medieval France's three richest cities.

On the south bank the "châtelet des Tourelles" protected access to the bridge. This was the site of the battle on 8 May 1429 which allowed Joan of Arc to enter and liberate the city from the English during the Hundred Years' War, with the help of the royal generals Dunois and Florent d'Illiers. The city's inhabitants have continued to remain faithful and grateful to her to this day, calling her "la pucelle d'Orléans" (the maid of Orléans), offering her a middle-class house in the city, and contributing to her ransom when she was taken prisoner (though this ransom was sequestred by Charles VII and Joan was never released).

1453 to 1699

Once the Hundred Years' War was over, the city recovered its former prosperity. The bridge brought in tolls and taxes, as did the merchants passing through the city. King Louis XI also greatly contributed to its prosperity, revitalizing agriculture in the surrounding area (particularly the exceptionally fertile land around Beauce) and relaunching saffron farming at Pithiviers. Later, during the Renaissance, the city benefited from it becoming fashionable for rich châtelains to travel along the val-de-Loire (a fashion begun by the king himself, whose royal domains included the nearby Chambord, Amboise, Blois, and Chenonceau).

The University of Orléans also contributed to the city's prestige. Specializing in law, it was highly regarded throughout Europe. John Calvin was received and accommodated there (during which time he wrote part of his reforming theses) and in return Henry VIII of England (who had drawn on Calvin's work in his separation from Rome) offered to fund a scholarship at the University. Many other Protestants were sheltered by the city. Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known by his pseudonym Molière, also studied law at the University, but was expelled for attending a carnival contrary to University rules.

From 13 December 1560 to 31 January 1561, the French States-General met here. This was just after the death of Francis II of France, the eldest son of Catherine de Médicis and Henry II, on 5 December 1560 in the Hôtel Groslot in Orléans, with his queen Mary at his side.

The cathedral was rebuilt several times. The present structure had its first stone laid by Henry IV, and work on it took a century. It thus is a mix of late Renaissance and early Louis XIV styles, and one of the last cathedrals to be built in France.


When France colonised America, the territory it conquered was immense, including the whole Mississippi River (whose first European name was the River Colbert), from its mouth to its source at the borders of Canada. Its capital was named "la Nouvelle-Orléans" in honour of Louis XV's regent, the duke of Orléans, and was settled with 8000 French and Cajun inhabitants against the threat from British troops to the north-east.

The Dukes of Orléans hardly ever visited their city since, as brothers or cousins of the king, they took such a major role in court life that they could hardly ever leave. Officially their castle was that at Blois. The duchy of Orléans was the largest of the French duchies, starting at Arpajon, continuing to Chartres, Vendôme, Blois, Vierzon, and Montargis. The duke's son bore the title duke of Chartres. Inheritances from great families and marriage alliances allowed them to accumulate huge wealth, and one of them – Philippe Égalité is sometimes said to have been the richest man in the world at the time. His son, Louis-Philippe I, inherited the Penthièvre and Condé family fortunes.

1852 saw the creation of the "Compagnies ferroviaires Paris-Orléans" and its famous gare d'Orsay in Paris. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the city again became strategically important thanks to its geographical position, and was occupied by the Prussians on 13 October that year. The armée de la Loire was formed under the orders of général d'Aurelle de Paladines and based itself not far from Orléans at Beauce.

1900 to present

During the Second World War, the Nazis made the d'Orléans Fleury-les-Aubrais railway station one of their central logistical rail hubs. The Pont Georges V was renamed "pont des Tourelles"[3]. A transit camp for deportatees was built at Beaune-la-Rolande. During the Liberation, the American Air Force heavily bombed the city and the train station, causing much damage. The city was one of the first to be rebuilt after the war: the reconstruction plan and city improvement initiated by Jean Kérisel and Jean Royer was adopted as early as 1943 and work began as early as the start of 1945. This reconstruction in part identically reproduced what was lost, such as Royale and its arcades, but also used innovative prefabrication techniques, such as îlot 4 under the direction of the architect Pol Abraham[4].

The big city of former time is today an average-sized city of 250,000 inhabitants. It is still using its strategically central position less than an hour from the French capital in attracting businesses interested in reducing transport costs.


Orléans's coat of arms

According to Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun in La France Illustrée, 1882, Orléans's arms are "gules, with three caillous in cœurs de lys of argent, two and one, at the top azure, charged with three fleur de lys or. Charle Grandmaison, in the Dictionnaire Héraldique of 1861, states that it is "Or, with three hearts in gules", without the azure top. Sometimes, in faulty designs, we find it described "gules, with three fleurs de lys of argent, azure at the top charged with three fleurs de lys, or.[5]

It is to be noted that the design shown left shows three "cœurs de lys" (heart of a lily), seen from above. This "cœurs de lys" is therefore not a true lily, which would have 6 tepals, but a hypothetical aerial view of a symbolic lily. It has probably also been stylised more and more in heraldry, as in the heart in a pack of cards. Certain authors solve the problem by calling this symbol a "tiercefeuille", defined as a stemless clover leaf, with one leaf at the top and two below, thus making this coat of arms "gules, with three reversed tiercefeuilles in argent, etc".


"Hoc vernant lilia corde" (granted by Louis XII, then duke of Orléans), meaning "It is by this heart that lilies flourish" or "This heart makes lilies flourish", referring to the fleur de lys, symbol of the French royal family.



Commune transport

SEMTAO manage buses and tram lines in Orléans. the tram line was inaugurated 20 November 2000 [6].

2 SNCF stations : Fleury les Aubrais and Orléans Center

Roads and Highway


Orléans is the patrie (birthplace) of:

Main sights

Museums [7]

  • Charles Peguy Center
  • Joan of Arc's House
  • Fine Arts Museum
  • City's Historical and Archeological Museum
  • Natural Sciences Museum

Parks [8]

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Orléans is twinned with:



The University campus is in the La Source area in southern part of the commune, and has 15000 students, 879 lecturers and researchers, 39 public laboratories, and 52 private laboratories.[citation needed]

See also

Sources and external links

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Albi" (in French). Météo France. Retrieved 2010-01-17. 
  2. ^ For an exact etymology, see Cenabum, Aurelianis, Orléans de Jacques Debal (Coll. Galliae civitates, Lyon, PUL, 1996)
  3. ^ World-wide current events of May 16, 1941, available on the site of the INA (direct link).
  4. ^ Joseph Abram, L'architecture moderne en France, du chaos à la croissance, tome 2, éd. Picard, 1999, pp. 28 et 37-38
  5. ^ Grand Larousse encyclopédique in 10 volumes, 163
  6. ^ History of buses and tram line in Orleans
  7. ^ List of Museum of Orleans Tourism Office (in English)
  8. ^ Park and Gardens in Orléans
  9. ^ Embassy of France in Moscow – sister cities
  10. ^ "Kraków otwarty na świat". Retrieved 2009-07-19. 

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

For other places with the same name, see Orleans (disambiguation).

Orleans (French, Orléans) [1] is the capital of the Centre-Val de Loire region of north-central France, located some 120 km (75 miles) south-west of the French capital Paris.

Get in

By plane

The best way to get to Orleans by plane is to fly into either one of the two Paris Airports. Most international carriers will service Charles De Gaule (CDG), but most low-cost carriers will service Orly. Orly airport is slightly closer to Orleans if you are driving, but neither airport provides direct services to Orleans and one will most likely have to transfer in Paris.

By train

Many trains serve the sizeable railway station near Place Jean d'Arc, from Paris, which takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

From Paris take a SNCF train from Paris's Gare d'Austerlitz to the Gare d'Orleans

By car

Take the A10 motorway south-west from Paris. The trip will only be slightly more than and hour, but in rush hour the hour trip can easily become a 3 hour endeavor.

  • Semtao Tramline and buses run throughout the city of Orleans and the town of Fleury-lès-Aubrais. [2]

Within Orleans the tram runs from the city center down main street to the outlying small towns and suburbs. This does not provide much help to tourists.

The best way to travel is by foot or bike. The city is not large so by foot is the best way. Many bike rental stations allow you to use a bike from point A to B at low fares.

  • Ste-Croix Cathedral (La Cathédrale Sainte-Croix)[3]
  • the House of Joan of Arc (La Maison de Jeanne d’Arc) [4]. Most of Orleans in devoted to Jean d'Arc as she liberated the town in medival times. Its hard to walk through the town without seeing Jean d'arc related stuff quite frequently. The house is definately worth seeing.
  • the Parc Floral (10 km south of down town) [5]
  • the Musée historique et archéologique de l'Orléanais [6]
  • the Musée des Beaux Arts [7]
  • the "Europe Bridge" [8]
  • the Hotel de Ville (City Hall). Where everyone in the city is required to get married, the hotel de ville has breathtaking rooms filled with royal curtains and gold drippings.
  • the Cathedral. With a similar design to Notre Dame in Paris, a visit to Orleans would not be complete without a stop. The Cathedral which can been seen above the buildings in most of the town.



Walk around the center of town, or along the banks of the river Loire. Barhop. Visit some of the city's great boulangeries.

The city celebrates Joan of Arc during the first week of May with parades, demonstrations, a "medieval market" and sound and light shows.

  • l'Astrolabe 1 Rue Alexandre Avisse, 45000 Orleans. Concert hall dedicated to Modern Music, Reggae, Percus, Techno, French Song, also includes an Ice-skating ring and Dojo. [9]

Billards (pool) can be a fun way to unwind from a busy day. Orleans has many pool salons and even the bowling alley also has a billards section. Billards is popular among teenagers on fridays after school, but finding an open table shouldn't be a problem.


The université d'Orléans (10 miles south of downtown- well served by the tram line) has partnerships with many foreign universities. French classes for foreigners are available during a semester, year, or summer program. Information at


With the Euro strong right now shopping ANYWHERE in Europe will be expensive. Most stores do accept credit cards which will save you the hassle of exchanging money numerous times. The local chocolate factory, Chocolaterie Royale, makes many interesting and delicious souvenirs. Even if you aren't in the mode to buy chocolate, stopping by their store near the town square will amaze you at the way they can mold chocolate.

Many large French and international stores fill Orleans including H&M and Le Galarie Lafayette.

  • Pizzeria Capri 103bis, Rue du Faubourg Madeleine , 45000 Orléans. Great Service, excellent pizza and pasta.
  • Tokyo 14, Place du Chatelet, 45000 Orléans. Really good Sushi. $15-30
  • El Tio, 34 rue ND de Recouvrance, +33-(0)2-38-77-16-99, [10]. Tu-Sa 12PM-2PM 7PM-10.30PM S 12PM-2PM. Fine Spanish food and wines, great service. Also sell Spanish products (spices, sweets, ham...).  edit


The Rue de Bourgogne is home to the majority of bars, pubs and nightlife of Orleans. Le bord de la Loire (the Loir river bank) is populare among young highschool students as a place for weekend drinking. Their are also several concerts held along the Loire River during the summer.

  • Le Petit Barcelone 218, Rue de Bourgogne. Relaxed atmosphere, plenty of tables for sitting around with friends and having drinks.
  • Havana Cafe 28, Place du Chatelet. Indoor and outdoor seating, good place to have drinks with friends.
  • Le Paxton's Head Rue de Bourgogne. Karaoke
  • L'Amazone 105 bis, Rue de Faubourg Madeleine. Night club playing African Zouk, Reggae and Hip Hop music.
The Parc des Alicourts campsite and spa
The Parc des Alicourts campsite and spa


Around 40km south of Orleans on the way to Bourges is the Parc des Alicourts 4-star campsite and spa, a holiday centre with a fishing lake, an aqua park with 4 pools, a plush health spa with hydrotherapy centre, camping pitches, chalets, cottages and a villa for rent.

Within easy reach of the chateaux and attractions of the Loire Valley, offering special offers on family holidays, camping weekends and spa breaks.

NEW FOR 2009: Stay in a treehouse The Parc des Alicourts has several new treehouses for 2009, some suitable for family holidays, some for cozy couple weekends. Ideal for getting away from it all.

Get out

Visiting the castles and houses along the Loire river is a great day trip from Orleans. A must see is Chambord.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:



  1. a city on the Loire river in northern-central France



French Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia fr


Proper noun


  1. Orleans (a city in France)


Simple English

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