Orléans is located on the banks of the mighty and slow-flowing Loire River, the longest river in France. The beloved city that Joan of Arc once saved is one of the lesser-known places in the UNESCO-recognized Loiret region, but certainly not because it lacks charm. Whether as part of a broader tour of the Loire Valley or to attend the annual Joan of Arc Festival, Orléans is a worthy side trip from the bustling metropolis of Paris 83 miles (133 kilometers) up the road. It takes about an hour by train or slightly longer by bus or car.
|Train||52 minutes||from $11||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Bus||1 hour, 40 minutes||from $6||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||1 hour, 30 minutes||83 miles (133 kilometers)||Exploring the local area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Paris to Orléans?
The cheapest way to get from Paris to Orléans is by taking the bus. FlixBus does an easy, straight-shot route that takes only an hour and 40 minutes and costs as little as $6. Be sure not to book the bus that takes upwards of three hours if you can help it. The bus departs several times a day either from Bercy Seine or Gallieni in Paris and arrives at the Avenue de la Libération bus station in Orléans, about 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) from the town center.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Paris to Orléans?
If speed is your priority, then the train is your best bet. Operated by the SNCF, this regional train can cover the distance in as little as 52 minutes, according to Rail Europe, but the average duration is one hour, nine minutes. Trains depart at least once an hour from Paris Austerlitz between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. daily. They arrive via Orléans' gare des Aubrais, a 40-minute walk from the city center. Tickets start at $11 and can be booked through Rail Europe.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
The drive from Paris to Orléans takes about an hour and a half in average traffic conditions. The most direct route is via the A10, which you can take nearly the entire way, but be prepared to pay up. According to ViaMichelin, the route will cost you about $30 in tolls. While having a car can indeed be handy for getting around the Loire Valley, it can also be an unnecessary burden when public transportation is just as convenient and perhaps even cheaper.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Orléans?
The best time to travel to Orléans and the Loire Valley in general is between April and June or September and October. During the summer, a mixture of international tourists and French vacationers make this place busy and, at times, expensive. In the shoulder season, you'll still get long days and warm temperatures but without all the crowds. The Loire Valley is charming in the winter, too, with its many Christmas markets running from the end of November through the New Year.
Try to avoid weekends and holidays, when the locals escape to this region for staycations, and if you can, travel outside of peak hours. FlixBus offers trips as early as 3 a.m. and they often sell for cheaper than afternoon departures.
What Is There to Do in Orléans?
Orléans is famous for being the city relieved by 17-year-old heroine Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years' War. It still celebrates her centuries later with an annual Joan of Arc Festival featuring a medieval market, a parade, games, dance parties, and more. Over the summer, you can see the Gothic Orléans Cathedral illuminated in a nightly sound and light show (beginning at 11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday).
Also worth checking out is the Parc Floral de la Source, an extensive garden designed around the source of the Loiret river. Orléans is a real gateway to much of the Loire Valley, whether you're going east to Gien, Cosne, and Nevers or west past the great Château de Chambord, Blois, and Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years.