Guide to the Loire regions

Orléans and Orléans-Cléry


Basilica Notre-Dame-de-Cléry
T: + 33 2 38 45 70 05
F: + 33 2 38 45 98 01
Situated a few kilometres west of Orléans, this is the village from which the wine appellation of Orléans-Cléry takes its name; its Basilica being the main point of interest around the immediate area. It was founded in 1280 by Philippe IV although the original Basilica was destroyed during the Hundred Years War. It was rebuilt by Charles II and Louis XI and is a dominant feature on the local landscape. It is a place of pilgrimage for French Royalists as it contains the tomb of Louis XI who died in August 1483 and was interred here with his wife, Charlotte, who died just a few months after the King.


Whilst Orléans might present itself as the obvious place to use as a base for visiting the region, there are relatively few quality hotels, although plenty of the more ubiquitous bed-factory types that help to soak up custom from the healthy conference business that is attracted to the city. Beaugency, some 20 kilometres downstream, offers a quieter, but no less distinguished option. The town’s history is equally as rich as that of Orléans and there are plenty of attractions for the tourist.

Most impressive, perhaps, is the 435 metre medieval 23-arched bridge across the Loire. It’s worth walking across just to see the view of the town offered from the opposite bank. The town was the centre of one of the battles of Jeanne d’Arc which took place on the 16th and 17th June 1429, shortly after the relieving of the siege at Orléans. Other attractions are the 11th Century Donjon, La Tour César which is an impressive example of Romanesque military architecture; the 12th Century église abbatiale, which on 11th March 1152 was host to the council meeting that announced the annulment of the marriage of Louis XII and Eleanor of Aquitaine - the decision allowed Eleanor to marry Henri II, who went on to become Henri Plantagenet, the future king of England.


Despite my reservations about using the city as a base, it is still worth a detour, as it holds many attractions for the occasional visitor. Orléans cathedral is one of the biggest draws. It dates from the late Renaissance period and is one of the last to be built in France, with Henri IV laying the first stone in 1601. The old town was badly damaged during the Second World War, but has been largely restored in the original half-timbered style.  


Offices de Tourisme
2 Place de l’Etape
T: + 33 2 38 24 05 05

3 Place du Dr Hyvernaud
T: + 33 2 38 44 54 42
F: + 33 2 38 46 45 31


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