Johanna comes again. Every year at the beginning of May, when she marches with her entourage to Place Sainte Croix, the crowds in Orleans cheer for her. But she has been dead for more than 500 years.
Of course it is not the real Johanna who is celebrated as a heroine. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431, not at all heroic, after she helped the royal heir to the throne win against the English and Burgundians.
The whole story of Joan of Arc is told by the mosaics in the windows of the Cathedrale Ste-Croix.
The cathedral is also popular from the outside, as a backdrop for wedding photos, for example. From the garden behind the town hall across the street, the view is especially beautiful, says Sonia, who is showing us around her town.
Hungry? First look at the maps of the restaurants of Orleans!
We turn a few steps further south into Rue de Bourgogne. The oldest street in Orleans is the gastronomic promenade. Restaurants are lined up door to door.
Finding a place for dinner can take a while. Not because there is no place, but because you first walk up and down the whole street – studying every map, what you feel like at the moment. Everyone does it in Orleans, says Sonia.
We are not in a hurry and stroll a bit through the old town of Orleans with its pretty narrow half-timbered houses from the 14th century./15. Century. Their wooden beams are stained in color – the latest fashion in the baroque era.
Originally, the city spread out from the Loire Valley to the north, its higher location protecting it from flooding. Orleans was once the most important port for the supply of the Parisians. With the construction of the railroad, the center shifts toward the train station and grows unceasingly: 120.000 people live in Orleans today.
Port, storage area, parking lot, the Loire shore was many things but touristy. This changed.
France vacation with many options
Every two years in September, the Festival Loire takes place with concerts and readings. The ships anchored on the river, however, have to be transported by truck.
The Loire is no longer a navigable river. Only a few canoe trips for tourists are possible in the shallow water. Even swimming is forbidden, too dangerous due to currents and sandbanks moving around.
Cycling, on the other hand, is no problem: the 800 km Loire Cycle Path from Burgundy to the Atlantic runs right through Orleans – also a popular activity on a France vacation.
The former port area around the Place de Loire has been transformed into a leisure zone with boutiques, bars and a movie theater with a public garden on its roof.
Right next door: Les Halles, the shopping and business center of the city.
Short stop at the Epicerie at Place du Chatelet. I like these little stores crammed with specialties. A culinary souvenir fits into the fullest suitcase.
This time: vinegar and mustard by Martin Pouret. The vinegar factory is the last one still in production. There used to be a proud 200. That Orleans became the vinegar bastion was obvious. Every now and then, a consignment of wine that was to be shipped to Paris "tipped over" – and was only good for use as vinegar.
So that no misunderstanding arises: Loire wines enjoy, then as today, an excellent reputation. And the transport routes have been optimized.
Culinary souvenir: Loire wines
Right next to the delicatessen, at Les Becs A Vin, the test to the example. The wines on tap are mainly from the Cheverny and Touraine regions, with most other Loire growths on the menu as bottled wines. We order a small carafe of Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine and a sausage board. Nothing big, but a good start.
And a good basis for a stroll in the Rue de Bourgogne.
The trip was partly supported by Atout France and CRT Centre-Val de Loire.