Orléans, France

Orléans (pics), namesake for that lovely US city at the mouth of the Mississippi River, marks the eastern end of the Loire Valley.  Naturally, it is located along the banks of the Loire River and is only about 110 km southwest of Paris.

Place du Martroi

Orléans has a very lovely historical center and has (go figure) one of France’s most flamboyant Gothic cathedrals, the 13th century Cathédrale Ste-Croix.  Orléans’ place in history was really set in 1429 when the young peasant girl, Joan of Arc rallied the armies of Charles VII to stage a rout of the invading English forces, a turning point in the Hundred Years War.  All around town you will find plaques and monuments dedicated to her, most notably the statue in the middle of Place du Martroi.