Tuesday 24 July 2007

Orleans, France

Cobbled streets, elegant nineteenth century boulevards, an ornate Neogothic cathedral, walks along the banks of the fast-flowing Loire, a mostly pedestrianised square with fountains and a substantial statue of Joan of Arc on horseback. Orleans is an enticing city that can easily justify a day of loafing and wandering, marred only by the need to dodge dog poo and the occasional motorbike. If you haven't much time, walk past the grand four-storey cream terraces on the rue Jeanne D'Arc towards the Cathedrale Ste-Croix. Up close, you can study the bewildering array of carving, including some grisly leering gargoyles, that adorn all four sides of this towering church. Pop inside to admire the stain glass windows before strolling round the historic back streets that lead down to the river and host numerous bars and restaurants. 7/10