Must see attractions in Orléans

  • Top ChoiceSights in Orléans

    Cathédrale Ste-Croix

    In a country of jaw-dropping churches, Gothic-style Cathédrale Ste-Croix still raises a gasp. Originally built in the 13th century, it underwent tinkering by successive monarchs after being partly destroyed by Protestants in 1568. Joan of Arc prayed here on 8 May 1429 and was greeted with a procession of thanks for saving the town; 10 extraordinarily vivid stained-glass windows (1893) illustrate her life. The most picturesque way to approach the 130m-long cathedral is along rue Jeanne d'Arc.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Orléans

    Musée des Beaux-Arts

    Orléans’ five-level fine-arts museum is a treat, with an excellent collection of Italian, Flemish and Dutch paintings (including works by Correggio, Velázquez and Bruegel) as well as a huge collection of work by French artists such as Léon Cogniet (1794–1880), Orléans-born Alexandre Antigna (1817–78) and Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), who spent some of his youth here. Other rare treasures include a set of 18th-century pastels by Maurice Quentin de la Tour and a self-portrait by Jean-Baptiste Chardin.

  • Sights in Orléans

    CERCIL – Musée-Mémorial des Enfants du Vel d'Hiv

    Between 1941 and 1943, more than 16,000 Jews were interned in two camps about 50km northeast of Orléans, Beaune-la-Rolande and Pithiviers. The adults were deported first, and only after authorisation had arrived from Berlin were 4400 parent-less, terrified children loaded onto trains and sent to Auschwitz and Sobibor; only 26, all adolescents, survived. Exhibits (in French) document the deportation and serve as a moving memorial for the children. A detailed booklet in English is available.

  • Sights in Orléans

    Hôtel Groslot

    The Renaissance-style Hôtel Groslot was built between 1530 and 1550 as a private mansion for lawyer and bailiff Jacques Groslot; it became Orléans’ city hall during the Revolution. The neo-Renaissance interior decor (1850s) is extravagant, especially the ornate bedroom – now used for weddings – in which 17-year-old François II died in 1560. Salle Jeanne d'Arc is richly decorated with images of St Joan. The gardens behind the building are lovely.

  • Sights in Orléans

    Musée d'Histoire et d'Archéologie

    The centrepiece of this history museum, in the Renaissance-style Hôtel Cabu, is an extraordinary collection of Celtic and Gallo-Roman bronzes, recovered from the Loire’s sandy bottom. Our favourites: an almost-life-size horse and wild boar. Another room is dedicated to rare Orléans-made porcelain from the 18th and 19th centuries. Plasticised sheets in each room provide information in English.

  • Sights in Orléans

    Place du Martroi

    In the centre of Orléans' main square, a bronze statue (1855) depicts Joan of Arc atop a prancing steed; nearby there's a carousel (merry-go-round). A food market sets up here on Friday evening from about 4pm to 10pm.

  • Sights in Orléans

    Maison de Jeanne d’Arc

    An excellent 15-minute film (in French or English) tracing Joan of Arc's origins, accomplishments and historical impact is the main attraction at the Maison de Jeanne d'Arc, a 1960s reconstruction of the 15th-century house that hosted her between April and May 1429 (the original was destroyed by German bombing in 1940). The world’s largest Joan of Arc research centre is upstairs.

  • Sights in Orléans

    Joan of Arc Statue

    Depicting St Joan atop a prancing steed, this huge bronze statue (1855) by Denis Foyatier is in the centre of place du Martroi.