19 Best Things to Do in Orleans, France

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Located within the Loire Valley, Orleans is a perfect little stop between Paris and the many chateaux around this part of the country. This smaller city packs a big punch when it comes to activities for visitors, which is why I had to write all about the best things to do in Orleans, France!

I had the pleasure of visiting this charming city after spending 3 days exploring the Loire Valley castles. I must say- it was a lovely way to break up our trip back to Paris! 

For starters, I’ve heard about Orleans, particularly as a history lover. Orleans is famous for Joan of Arc (or Jeanne d’Arc in French) coming to save the city from the English siege in 1429. Yes, while in Orleans for a brief stint, she led soldiers to victory and got the city back under French control.

Flags on Rue Jeanne d'Arc 2

So visiting Orleans is a perfect opportunity to discover more about France’s famous heroine’s life and sad end. 

Aside from that, though, there are plenty of other tourist attractions in Orleans France to entice visitors. So whether you’re here for Joan of Arc history, want to visit nearby castles, or want to enjoy some culinary delights, Orleans is a unique place to visit during your time in France.

19 Best Things to Do in Orleans France

Place du Martroi

Is Orleans, France worth visiting? I’m hoping with these 19 amazing things to see in Orleans, France, you’ll want to start packing your bags to visit ASAP!

1. Maison Jeanne d’Arc, or the Joan of Arc House

3 Pl. du Général de Gaulle

Maison Jeanne d'Arc 2

This lovely half-timbered house lies in the heart of the city of Orleans. And sadly, it is a replica of the former house where Joan of Arc stayed while here to liberate the city. 

It was actually standing up until 1940 when it became a causality of bombings during WWII. However, 25 years later, the former home of the Duke of Orleans’ treasurer, Jacques Boucher, was rebuilt to look as it did when he hosted Joan of Arc.

Inside the house today, you can find a multimedia room where you can watch a video all about Joan of Arc and her life, the beginnings of her visions from God, how she led the soldiers to victory in Orleans, her later trial, and then her sad end of being burned at the stake. 

Sign at Maison Jeanne d'Arc

The video also discusses when she was sainted and how the city of Orleans celebrates her every year with a festival. 

The house also has many books and artifacts of her life on other floors, but these can only be accessed by appointment and not as a part of general admission to the house. 

If you want to learn more about Joan of Arc history in Orleans, this is a great place to go! The video is played every 30 minutes and you can listen with a headset in other languages aside from French. 

Maison Jeanne D’Arc Hours: May 1-September 30: Tuesday-Sunday from 10 am-1 pm and 2-6 pm. October 1-April 30: Tuesday-Sunday from 2-6 pm. 

Maison Jeanne D’Arc Admission Price: €8 but includes entry to the Museum of Fine Arts, the MOBE Museum (Museum for Biodiversity and the Environment in Orleans), and the Museum of History and Archeology as well as the Maison Jeanne d’Arc. The ticket is valid for one day.

2. Cathedrale Sainte-Croix d’Orleans

Pl. Sainte-Croix

Cathedrale de Sainte-Croix d'Orleans

This Gothic church was built in the late 13th century into the early 14th century. It sits at the end of Rue Jeanne d’Arc, and it was a place frequented by Joan of Arc herself during the Siege.

Now, you can find stained glass windows depicting Joan of Arc and the siege inside which are really cool to see. 

You can also enjoy the many crests, flags, and just the overall beauty of this Gothic cathedral. 

Christ statue at Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orléans
Jeanne d'Arc stained glass at Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orléans
Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orléans Joan of Arc stained glass

Cathedrale Sainte-Croix d’Orleans Hours: Opens every day at 9 am. Closes from November to March at 6 pm, and from April through October at 7 pm. Mass takes place on Sundays and holidays at 10:30 am and on Saturdays at 6:30 pm. 

Cathedrale Sainte-Croix d’Orleans Admission: Free.

3. Statue de Jeanne d’Arc is Among the Orleans Tourist Attractions

20 Pl. du Martroi

Joan of Arc statue in Orleans

It is safe to say that Joan of Arc was a boss. And as a young boss lady who did amazing things (but sadly lived in a time where women doing amazing things was unacceptable so she was sadly killed), it is fitting she has a statue memorializing her in the city center.

At the Place du Martroi, you’ll find Joan perched atop her horse while wearing armor and holding a sword. 

It is definitely a great spot for a photo op and a wonderful statue of Joan of Arc in Orleans.

Fun fact: You can find another statue of Joan of Arc atop her horse in New Orleans, Louisiana at the Place de France! 

4. Place du Martroi

Carousel at Orleans

Speaking of Place du Martroi, this is a fun city square to just relax, grab a bite to eat/some coffee, and enjoy. 

There is a charming carousel where you’ll spot children enjoying the ride. There are also fountains to play in during the summer, an ice rink in the winter, and yes, there is even a Christmas market here during the holiday season! 

5. Musee Historique et Archeologique de l’Orleanais

1, square Abbé Desnoyers

Orleans History Museum 3

Want to learn more about Orleans’ ancient Gallic and Gallo-Roman history? What about its history when it comes to making wine vinegar? Either way, you can discover this and more at the History and Archeological Museum of Orleans

This place is located in the former Cabu Hotel, which is a lovely Renaissance building. This lovely museum features anything from bronze statues and reliefs from Gallo-Roman times to even plenty of information about the history of wine vinegar making in the city. 

History Museum in Orleans

There is also a little room dedicated to Joan of Arc with some art, books, and posters from the annual Joan of Arc Festival. 

Musee Historique et Archeologique de l’Orleanais Hours: May 1-September 30: Tuesday-Sunday from 10 am-1 pm and 2-6 pm. October 1-April 30: Tuesday-Sunday from 1-6 pm. 

Musee Historique et Archeologique de l’Orleanais Admission: €8 but is a combined ticket with the Museum of Fine Arts, the MOBE (Orleans Museum for Biodiversity and the Environment), and the Maison Jeanne d’Arc. The ticket is valid for one day. Free on the 1st Sunday of the month. 

Artifacts at the Orleans History Museum

6. Collegiale Saint-Aignan

Rue Neuve Saint-Aignan

This church, while only built in the 1400s and 1500s, actually sits in the spot where a church has been dating back to the 6th century. Many churches have had to have been built and rebuilt here over the years since the 6th century due to fires, floods, and damage from humans.

The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Aignan, who helped Orleans significantly when he saved the town from an invasion of the Huns in 451 while serving as bishop in the city. 

Enjoy this stunning cathedral and spot Saint Aignan on a stained glass window!

Collegiale Saint-Aignan Hours: Open at 9:15 am.

Collegiale Saint-Aignan Admission: Free.

Jeanne d'Arc statue at Place du Martroi in Orleans 3

7. Hotel Groslot is Another of the Great Orleans Attractions

2 Pl. de l’Étape

This Neo-Renaissance residence was built for the Groslot family during the 1500s. It was here that King Charles IX, King Francois II, and Catherine de Medici were hosted!

In fact, both King Francois II and King Charles IX have lived here with their court for a time. 

It became the town hall in the late 1700s and today you can visit this place for free and see some of its grand rooms with plush furnishings and beautiful tapestries. 

Hotel Groslot Hours: October-June open daily. Weekdays and Sundays from 10 am-12 pm and 2-6 pm. Open Saturdays until 7 pm. July through September open daily from 9 am-7 pm.  

Hotel Groslot Admission: Free.

Kat with the Orleans sign

8. Musee des Beaux-Arts d’Orleans

1 rue Fernand Rabier

Most cities in France will, of course, have a fine arts museum. With no shortage of stunning artwork to be found around the country, it makes sense that Orleans would also have its own fine arts museum. 

Here at the Musee des Beaux-Arts, you can find several European artworks from the 15th-20th centuries. 

Fun fact: this place has the largest collection of pastels in France just after the Louvre!

Musee des Beaux-Arts d’Orleans Hours: Tuesday-Saturday from 10 am-6 pm. Sunday from 1-6 pm. Open on Thursdays until 8 pm. 

Musee des Beaux-Arts d’Orleans Admission: €8 including admission to Maison Jeanne d’Arc, the MOBE Museum (Museum for Biodiversity and the Environment in Orleans), and the Museum of History and Archeology. The ticket is valid for one day.

Joan of Arc statue at Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orléans 3

9. What to Do in Orleans France: Find the Fun Street Mosaics

Joan of Arc art at Rue Jeanne d'Arc

All around Orleans, you’ll spot these little video-game-like mosaics above street signs. These are actually created by the street artist MifaMosa! 

The coolest one I saw was, of course, the one of Joan of Arc on her horse with a flag located on Rue Jeanne d’Arc. However, in places like Royal Street, there is a crown, and Rue de Bourgogne has a glass of wine. 

I’m also pretty sure I found a Waldo from Where’s Waldo ceramic piece in the city too! 

Where's Waldo street art in Orleans

10. Purchase Local Delights

Want to purchase some local products? Definitely check out the wine vinegar, which is perfect for making dressings, dips, and marinades. 

They also make their own kind of mustard here! The mustard seeds are soaked in wine vinegar before being made into mustard. So why not give it a try? Or better, yet, you can enjoy some of these culinary delights in dishes at various restaurants in the city! 

Poulet Jaune in Orleans

I for one really loved the poulet jaune made with Orleans vinegar at Brin de Zinc!

Of course, being in the Loire Valley, you can also purchase delights like local wine and perhaps some goat cheese!

11. Parc Floral de la Source

Av. du Parc Floral

Orange flower at Chateau de Villandry

For a romantic and fun place to explore during your time in Orleans, check out the Parc Floral de la Source. Complete with a rock garden, rose garden, iris garden, dahlia garden, Asian garden, tropical garden, and more, if you love flowers and plants, this is the place for you! 

Plus, there is also a butterfly house to enjoy as well as a mini-farm for kids to spot farm animals. In addition, you can spot fun birds in the park like the resident flamingos and peacocks! 

Parc Floral de la Source Hours: March 20-September 29 from 10 am-7 pm and from September 30-November 3 from 10 am-6 pm. 

Parc Floral de la Source Admission: €6.50 for adults, €4.50 for children aged 6-16, free for children under 6, and €20 for a family ticket including 2 adults and 2 children between ages 6-16. 

Purple flowers at Chateau de Chaumont

12. Jardin des Plantes

Place du Jardin des Plantes – Avenue de Saint-Mesmin

For another amazing outdoor adventure, check out the city’s beautiful botanical garden. This is a cool place because gardeners use this place to test and observe plant experimentation and other techniques, particularly for helping the environment. 

There are also fun gardens to enjoy around this area including the stunning rose garden, a palm grove, and climatic gardens such as an alpine garden, exotic vegetable garden, etc. 

The rose garden is a favorite, especially as Orleans was once the rose capital and supplied more than a quarter of France’s roses. There is even an International Rose Competition held in Orleans! 

Jardin des Plantes Hours: February-March: Daily from 7:30 am-6:30 pm. April-September: Daily from 7:30 am-8 pm. October: Daily from 7:30 am-6:30 pm. November-January: Daily from 8 am-5:30 pm. 

Jardin des Plantes Admission: Free.

Streets of Orleans

13. L’Ile Charlemagne

Levée de la Chevauchée, Saint-Jean-le-Blanc

For a fun day out with friends or family, you’ll love visiting L’Ile Charlemagne. This is essentially an island with a giant lake in it on the Loire River. But the lake is massive and perfect for swimming (in designated areas), boating, kayaking, and more!

Enjoy a day out here playing beach volleyball, cycling, swimming, or just relaxing in the sunshine on a warm summer day. The area also boasts things like an adventure park, a playground, and more! 

Orleans Aurelianis Cenebum sign

14. Hippodrome Orleans

Avenue du Champ de Mars

While I discuss horse racing in places like Deauville in Normandy, there is also a racecourse in Orleans to check out too! This place hosts horse racing 5 times a year. So for horse lovers, this is a great place to come when the races are going! 

Candles at Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orléans

15. Cercil Musee-Memorial des Enfants du Vel d’Hiv

45 Rue du Bourdon Blanc

This sad and sobering museum recalls the history of the internment camps located in the Loiret during WWII. There is also a memorial here dedicated to the children who were imprisoned there during that time. 

Cercil Musee-Memorial des Enfants du Vel d’Hiv Hours: Open Monday-Friday from 10 am-12:30 pm and 2-5 pm. Open on Tuesdays until 8 pm. Open on Sunday from 2-6 pm. During school holidays, open Monday-Friday from 11 am-6 pm, and other hours remain the same. 

Cercil Musee-Memorial des Enfants du Vel d’Hiv Admission: €4 for adults, free under 18. 


16. For the Sporty Travelers: Go Cycling Around Orleans

Orleans is an idyllic place for cyclists, especially as the area contains 428 km of bike paths. There are the VELO+ self-service bike rentals where you can get a bike at one of many stations around the city. 

There are also other places to rent bikes around Orleans and go cycling around the city and countryside!

If you really want to, you can also follow the Loire a Velo path, which is a 900-km route that stretches all across the Loire from Cuffy all the way to the Loire-Atlantique! 

Check out places to rent a bike here!

Jeanne d'Arc art at the history museum

17. Attend the Annual Joan of Arc Festival

As you can probably tell, Orleans loves some Joan of Arc and finds many ways to celebrate her. 

And if you want to do the same, then you’re definitely going to want to check out the Joan of Arc Festival in Orleans! This takes place from April 29 to May 8. 

May 8th was when Orleans was liberated! These 10 days are filled with fun ways to celebrate from sound and light shows to a horse show to entertainment from the Middle Ages and more. 

Of course, there is also a parade where Joan of Arc is dressed in her armor and rides through the town on horseback! 


18. Go Wine Tasting

Wine tasting with person pouring red wine into glass at Caves Ambacia

Orleans is in the Loire Valley, which means it isn’t far from many great vineyards. Book a tasting at places like Domaine de Montcy, Domaine du Vardet, or even Domaine Poupat et Fils to try some local wines, or head to a wine bar in the city like La Chopine, Les Becs a Vin, or L’Alchimie to try delicious French wine! 

Either way, you can’t miss a chance to enjoy the local vino of this area of France! 

19. For Epic Day Trips From Orleans, France: Visit the Famous Chateaux

Loire Valley Itinerary in 3 Days | Chateau de Chenonceau Wide Angle

The Loire Valley is home to over 300 chateaux! While this isn’t the only place to find castles in France, it is certainly the most heavily concentrated.

This is because royalty would escape the city of Paris and bring their court to this lovely area. 

Now, you can visit many of these chateaux either by car, via a tour, or even by taking the train to some places. 

For example, from Orleans, you can take a train to see Chateau Royal de Blois, Chateau Royal d’Amboise, and Chateau de Tours.

Yellow iris at Chateau de Valencay

If you have a car, you can hit up many amazing chateaux including Chateau de Chambord, Chateau de Chenonceau, Chateau de Chaumont, Chateau de Valencay, and more!

While few group tours leave from Orleans, you can take the train into Tours and go on some chateau group tours!

Where to Stay in Orleans

Orleans sign at Place du Martroi

Here are some great hotels to check out during your stay in Orleans! 

Hotel d’Orleans: This is where we stayed and we really enjoyed it! It is located right in the heart of Orleans and is within steps of the Place du Martroi and the Joan of Arc Statue. This place has A/C and even a little bar on site. 

Book it here!

Hotel de l’Abeille: Located close to many attractions in the area, this boutique hotel is in a quiet spot. Rooms here have a cozy and classic feel, and you’ll enjoy the tea room with lovely works of art. Plus, this place has a small boutique selling honey and other local goods, a fitness room, and even a rooftop garden terrace.

Book it here!

Empreinte Hotel: Along the banks of the Loire River, this hotel has stylish rooms, a spa, a lounge, and a terrace to enjoy. For a little relaxation and pampering between exploring, this is the place to be. 

Book it here!

Getting to Orleans, France and Getting Around

Ville d'Orleans crest at Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orléans

Getting to Orleans is pretty easy, as it has a train station. From Gare d’Austerlitz in Paris, it is about a 1 hour and 15 minute journey. 

The other option is to rent a car. From Paris, it takes about 2 hours depending on traffic to get to Orleans. I check Auto Europe for great deals!

Once in Orleans, the main part of the city with most of the museums, and Joan of Arc things are pretty walkable from each other. 

However, Orleans also has its bike share program as well as a tram and bus network for getting around.

When to Visit Orleans

Rue Jeanne d'Arc

Orleans isn’t a super touristy city to visit, so you can really come anytime and have a great time! However, if you want to partake in the Joan of Arc festival, then you’ll want to visit from April 29-May 8! 

For other events like the Christmas market, you’ll want to visit in the month of December. 

As far as the best time to visit for the weather, anytime between May through September is good! This is a perfect time of year to enjoy the flowers in parks, partake in fun summertime activities, and even enjoy visiting the nearby vineyards and chateaux!

Is Orleans, France Worth Visiting?

Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orléans Joan of Arc stained glass 2

I certainly think so! With some really interesting museums, amazing Joan of Arc history, and close proximity to several vineyards and chateaux, you’ll love visiting Orleans! 

If you want to enjoy just the town of Orleans, spending a day or two here is totally worth it! You can also stay for several days to explore the nearby wineries and chateaux. 

I also think it is a great way to break up the journey back to Paris from the heart of the Loire Valley chateaux near places like Chinon and Amboise. 

As a history fan, I particularly was fascinated with all of the Joan of Arc history in Orleans. They don’t call her the Maid of Orleans for nothing! 

I hope these 19 fun activities in and around Orleans have convinced you to visit this vibrant town! 

Would you visit Orleans? 

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