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Top DestinationsParis Bordeaux Cannes Orleans Provence Strasbourg
Mountain ResortsChamonix Courchevel Grenoble Megeve
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RegionsAlps Alsace Brittany Corsica Champagne Cote d'Azur Loire Valley Monaco Normandy Provence
The Capital of the Loire Valley is famous for Joan of Arc and the many magnificent castles in the region. Situated in the heart of France, just an hour by train from Paris, Orleans is a perfect destination to stay for a few days to discover the city of Joan of Arc and the surrounding region with its many castles.
Named after Aurelianus, a Roman Emperor, and the founder of the city, Orleans has been famous and wealthy for centuries. Its ideal location on the river Loire made it an important port and trading center. Goods and passengers sailing up the Loire would disembark in Orleans and proceed over land to the Capital of France, Paris.
During the Hundred Years War, the Northern part of France was invaded by the British. Orleans was besieged by the their army and the citizens were suffering from hunger. A 17 year old peasant girl, named Jean of Arc, claimed to hear voices which told her to free her country. She managed to convince Charles VII, the heir to the French throne, of the need to get his kingdom back. Then with a small army she freed the city of Orleans. This was the turning point in the Hundred Years War. The victory had a very positive effect on the moral of the troops and soon after that Joan went to Paris. There she was defeated, capture and judged for sorcery. On May 30th 1431 Joan was executed and burned on a public bonfire. In 1456, 24 years later, the judgment was broken by the Pope and she was declared innocent and a martyr and symbol of the unity of France. In 1909 she was beatified and another 11 years later she was canonized and proclaimed the Patron Saint of France.
In 2000 the UNESCO has declared the Loire Valley including Orleans, a World Heritage Site. With 800 square kilometers (300 square miles) this is one of the biggest areas ever accepted by the UNESCO.