Top to bottom, left to right: Rue Jeanne d'Arc and the Sainte-Croix Cathedral, place du Martroi, the equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, bridge George-V
|Region||Centre-Val de Loire|
|Canton||Orléans-1, 2, 3 and 4 and La Ferté-Saint-Aubin|
|o Mayor (2020-2026)||Serge Grouard (LR)|
|27.5 km2 (10.6 sq mi)|
| o Urban|
|334.3 km2 (129.1 sq mi)|
| o Metro|
|2,925 km2 (1,129 sq mi)|
|o Density||4,200/km2 (11,000/sq mi)|
| o Urban|
|o Urban density||860/km2 (2,200/sq mi)|
| o Metro|
|o Metro density||150/km2 (390/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||90-124 m (295-407 ft) |
(avg. 116 m or 381 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
Orléans (; , French: [le] ) is a prefecture and commune in north-central France, about 120 kilometres (74 miles) southwest of Paris. It is the capital of the Loiret department and of the Centre-Val de Loire region.
Orléans is located on the Loire River nestled in the heart of the Loire Valley, classified as a World Heritage Site, where the river curves south towards the Massif Central. In 2017, the city had 116,685 inhabitants within its municipal boundaries. Orléans is the center of Orléans Métropole that has a population of 286,257, the 20th largest in France. The larger metropolitan area has a population of 444,681.
The city owes its development from antiquity to the commercial exchanges resulting from the river. An important river trade port, it was the headquarters of the community of merchants frequenting the Loire River. It was the capital of the Kingdom of France during the Merovingian period and played an important role in the Hundred Years' War, particularly known for the role of Joan of Arc during the siege of Orléans. Every first week of May since 1432, the city pays homage to the "Maid of Orléans" during the Johannic Holidays which has been listed in the inventory of intangible cultural heritage in France. One of Europe's oldest universities was created in 1306 by Pope Clement V and re-founded in 1966 as the University of Orléans, hosting 19,000 students in 2019.
Orléans is located in the northern 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 kilometres southwest of Paris, is bordered to the north by the Beauce region, more specifically the Orléans Forest (French: forêt d'Orléans) and Orléans-la-Source neighbourhood, and the Sologne region to the south.
Five bridges in the city cross the Loire 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 and Pont de Vierzon (rail bridge).
To the north of the Loire (rive droite) is to be found a small hill (102 m (335 ft) at the pont Georges-V, 110 m (360 ft) at the Place du Martroi) which gently rises to 125 m (410 ft) at la Croix Fleury, at the limits of Fleury-les-Aubrais. Conversely, the south (on the rive gauche) has a gentle depression to about 95 m (312 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 neighbourhood 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 (330 to 360 ft).
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 to this point.
Boats on the river were traditionally flat-bottomed boats, with large but foldable masts so the sails could gather wind from above the river banks, but the masts could be lowered in order to allow the boats to pass under bridges. these vessels are known as gabarre, futreau, and so on, and may be viewed by 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.
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." There are plans to revive use of the canal for recreation and install a pleasure-boat port there.
Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the tribe of the Carnutes where the Druids held their annual assembly. The Carnutes were massacred and the city was destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC. In the late 3rd century AD, Roman Emperor Aurelian rebuilt the city and renamed it civitas Aurelianorum ("city of Aurelian") after himself. The name later evolved into Orléans.
In 442 Flavius Aetius, the Roman commander in Gaul, requested Goar, head of the Iranian tribe of Alans in the region to come to Orleans and control the rebellious natives and the Visigoths. 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. Goar established his capital in Orléans. His successors later took possession of the estates in the region between Orléans and Paris. 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. Also many places in the region bear names of Alan origin.
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, Louis VI of France became one of the few French monarchs to be crowned outside of Reims when he was crowned in Orléans cathedral by Daimbert, Archbishop of Sens.
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, but 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 lift the siege of the Plantagenets 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.
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, revitalising 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 its becoming fashionable for rich châtelains to travel along the Loire valley (a fashion begun by the king himself, whose royal domains included the nearby châteaus at 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 (and wrote part of his reforming theses during his stay), 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 after the death of Francis II of France, the eldest son of Catherine de Médicis and Henry II. He died 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 French 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. 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, King 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 General d'Aurelle de Paladines and based itself not far from Orléans at Beauce.
During the Second World War, the German army made the Orléans Fleury-les-Aubrais railway station one of their central logistical rail hubs. The Pont Georges V was renamed "pont des Tourelles". A transit camp for deportees was built at Beaune-la-Rolande. During the war, 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 had been 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.
The big city of former times 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 to attract businesses interested in reducing transport costs.
According to Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun in La France Illustrée, 1882, Orléans's arms are "gules, three caillous in coeurs de lys argent, and on a chief azure, three fleurs de lys Or." Charle Grandmaison, in the Dictionnaire Héraldique of 1861, states that it is "Or, with three hearts in gules", without the chief of France. Sometimes, in faulty designs, we find it described "gules, three fleurs de lys argent, and on a chief azure three fleurs de lys Or."
The design shown left shows 3 "coeurs de lys" (heart of a lily), seen from above. This "coeurs 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.
TAO manages buses and tram lines in Orléans. The first tram line was inaugurated November 20, 2000 and the second line on June 30, 2012. The network contains 29.3km of rail and transported 77,000 passengers in 2014.
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).
Orléans is served by two main railway stations: the central Gare d'Orléans and the Gare des Aubrais-Orléans, in the northern suburbs. Most long-distance trains call only at the Les Aubrais-Orléans station, which offers connections to Paris, Lille, Tours, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Nevers, and several regional destinations.
Orléans is the birthplace of:
o Many historical houses and mansions (hundreds) can still be admired in the city center which is one of the largest in France due to the great importance of the city until the 20th century. The historical center dating back to the 15th century extends far beyond the limits of the pedestrian sector that has been extensively restored in the past few years. In fact it corresponds to the portion of the modern city which is enclosed by the Boulevards. Many historical monuments remain in the non-pedestrian sectors of the city (for example, at rue Notre-Dame-de-Recouvrance, at rue des Carmes, at rue de la Bretonnerie, at Square Saint-Aignan).
Museums in Orléans:
Parks in Orléans:
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There is also a semi-professional rugby team, RC Orléans.
In 2012, Orléans hosted a stage finish of Paris-Nice.
|Climate data for Orléans, elevation: 123 m (404 ft), 1981-2010 normals, extremes 1938-present|
|Record high °C (°F)||16.6
|Average high °C (°F)||6.7
|Daily mean °C (°F)||3.9
|Average low °C (°F)||1.1
|Record low °C (°F)||-19.8
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||52.3
|Average precipitation days||10.7||9.4||9.8||9.7||10.6||7.6||7.5||6.9||8.2||10.5||10.5||10.7||112.0|
|Average relative humidity (%)||89||85||79||74||76||74||72||72||77||84||89||90||80|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||66.4||87.3||140.5||176.2||207.0||216.6||221.3||224.6||179.2||121.1||70.6||56.6||1,767.3|
|Source 1: Meteo France|
|Source 2: Infoclimat.fr (relative humidity 1961-1990)|