No. 7: Orléans
For the past 4 years, we have been listening to the Pimsleur Language Series on our iPods trying, with varying degrees of success, to improve our French. The characters in the lessons are always talking about traveling to Orléans. So finally, we took out a map and decided to find out what the people at Pimsleur were buzzing about.
Well, it just so happens to be a pretty swag city, and an hour away by train from Paris. If you catch the 8h30 train you can have a mini-vacation and be back in time for dinner.
Orléans is located on the Loire River and for some travelers this is the jumping off point to tour the Loire Valley. We like to go just for the pleasure of hanging out in the historic city, biking on the fabulous Loire à Vélo trail (a subject for another post), and for the endearing riverside cafés and half-timbered houses. (The NY Times has also cited Orléans for its “alternative” nightlife, trendy restaurants, including a relatively new, Michelin starred resto—might it be time to head back?)
And of course, you can’t step foot tin Orléans without hearing a whole lot about Jeanne d’Arc. If you are a lapsed history buff like me, you might need a refresher on who exactly Joan of Arc was. She was the little lassie who threw on her armor in Orléans and stood against the British invaders during the Hundred Years War. Her devotion to God stirred the French to victory, and Orléans was liberated; of course, as these things never do seem to end well, the English later burned her at the stake for heresy.
(You can thank the handsome tour guide at the Maison de Jeanne d’Arc Museum for this history lesson, along with this little know fact: the Jeanne d’Arc’s pageboy haircut was also the inspiration for the ubiquitous bob haircut, which was so popular in Paris in the early 1900s!)