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Best things to do in Orleans

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Where in the world: Europe  /  France  /  Centre-Val de Loire  /  Loiret  /  Orleans

Top 15 things to do in Orleans

1. Orléans Cathedral

The stained glass windows at Orléans Cathedral depict the story of Joan of Arc who attended evening Mass in this cathedral on May 2, 1429 while in the city to lift the siege. Built in the Gothic architectural style from 1278 to 1329 and partially destroyed in 1568, the cathedral was moderately rebuilt from 1601-1829. Despite renovations, some ancient remains that date back to the fourth century can still be seen in the crypt.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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2. Chateau de Chambord, Chambord

Chateau de Chambord is the quintessential monument to the flamboyance of French kings; all the grandeur with a dash of delightful whimsy. A dreamscape of turrets and towers rises from the terrace, resulting in its trademark silhouette that has often been likened to the skyline of a city. François I built it to serve as his hunting lodge and it is surrounded by forests that serve as a perfect lead-in to the jaw-dropping first glimpse. The Castle is a perfect example of sixteenth-century Renaissance architecture. When inside, don't miss the famed double helix stairways, rumored to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Explore its vaulted hallways, 400 palatial rooms, decorative staircases, and end your visit by taking a walk in the sprawling gardens.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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3. ZooParc de Beauval, Saint-Aignan

Not only is this zoo dedicated to protecting endangered species, ZooParc de Beauval is ranked among the top 15 beautiful zoos in the world. Bring the whole family to learn about conservation and the facility's endangered species breeding program that sends animals to other zoos around the world. Then, visit the tropical greenhouse that houses a rainbow of tropical birds. The raptor show features 20 large birds of prey, with a starring Andean condor with a wingspan over 3 m (9.8 ft) wide. More than 4,600 animals are featured here, including white lions, manatees, tigers, kangaroos, koalas, and giant pandas.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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4. Chateau de Cheverny, Cheverny

Renowned for magnificent interiors and the collection of furniture, tapestries, and objets d'art, Chateau de Cheverny has belonged to the same family for over six centuries. They own a pack of about seventy hunting dogs that live on the grounds, and you can watch them being fed on the live video feed. Guided tours offer added fun as you drive an electric car or boat to discover the grounds. A walk down to the guardroom leads you to a collection of arms and armor, while venturing further brings you to the Chambre du Roi that is richly hung with five Parisian tapestries designed by Simon Vouet to represent the story of Ulysses. Your visit to the castle includes a look at the fictional castle by author and illustrator, Hergé, the creator of the "Adventures of Tintin," who used Cheverny as his inspiration.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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5. Parc Floral de La Source

Stroll freely through whimsical gardens with themed trails at Parc Floral de La Source to view natural and man-made waterways and plants from faraway places. Your children will love the menagerie and the playground, as well as a butterfly garden in the greenhouse. Compare and contrast elements of the twelve flower gardens with displays of colorful dahlias and irises, the rose garden with a mirror pool, and the rock garden. Journey through the light, watery mist in the garden of the source, featuring botanical beauties that thrive in wet environments, such as butterburs, bamboo, and Tasmanian tree ferns.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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6. Chateau Royal de Blois, Blois

With several wings to explore, Chateau Royal de Blois is sure to peek your curiosity about everything from archaeological texts from the Middle Ages to the massive collection of restored murals. Discover French architecture from the Middle Ages to the 17th century, then visit the chamber of secrets, whispered to be Catherine de Médici's secret hiding place for poisons.

As the residence of several French kings, in 1429, the Archbishop of Reims blessed Joan of Arc before she departed with her army to drive the English from Orléans. Your visit is complete with an audio tour, in English available for download to your mp3 player, of the on-site Museum of Fine Arts. It is located in the royal apartments of François I and the Louis XII wing and contains more than 30,000 works.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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7. Chartres Cathedral, Chartres

Considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic cathedral architecture, Chartres Cathedral still has the majority of original stained glass windows intact, while the architecture has had only minor changes since the early 13th century. Come to venerate its most famous relic, the "Sancta Camisa," alleged to be the tunic worn by the Virgin Mary during Christ's birth.

The building's exterior is dominated by heavy flying buttresses with large the windows, while the west end is dominated by two contrasting spires: a 105 m (349 ft) plain pyramid completed in 1160 CE and a 113 m (377 ft) early 16th-century flamboyant spire on top of an older tower. Equally notable are the three façades, each adorned with hundreds of sculpted figures illustrating key theological themes.
Suggested duration: 4h 30 min
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8. Room Escape Games

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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9. Place du Martroi

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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10. Hotel Groslot

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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12. Centre-ville

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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13. La Paillote

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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14. Chateau de Fontainebleau, Fontainebleau

Unlike at busy Château de Versailles, the lack of crowds at Chateau de Fontainebleau means you're free to enjoy this palace almost as its inhabitants did in centuries past. This was the preferred residence of French kings and emperors for seven centuries. François I made the palace his permanent residence in 1527--breathing new life into the ruins with origins dating back to 1137. A succession of kings worked to further rehabilitate the castle, which is where Marie de Medici delivered her baby, who later became King Louis XIII. See where Napoléon I addressed his subjects after the French Revolution as you step into the Emperor's Throne Room. Italian artists Rosso and Primatice decorated the interior with frescoes, which you can still view today.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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15. Jardin des Plantes

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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