Revisiting Orléans after 25 years
During my recent holiday in Paris, my wife and I paid a visit to Orléans, 110 km to the south of the capital and made famous by its connection with Joan of Arc. It was my first time back in the city for 25 years; I left in June 1993 at the end of a half-year working there as a teaching assistant in two secondary schools.
So what had changed? Most obviously, the traffic has largely been banished from the city centre. As well as extensive pedestrianisation, tramways from north to south and east to west now bisect the city.
Orleans was a prosperous-looking place back in the 90s and it still is today. These colonnades were welcome on the humid afternoon of our visit:
Jeanne is still there on her horse in the central Place d’Arc (I wonder what they think of us English people around here nowadays?):
The cathedral, with its unusual rounded towers crowning its west front, continues to dominate the Rue Jeanne D’Arc:
Inside, it looks much less forlorn than I recall from all those years ago. I understand it’s still closed during the winter because they can’t afford to heat it. We were therefore lucky to return in the summer and admire it in all its glory. The nave is much lighter than many French cathedrals, such as Notre Dame in Paris.
It’s Cavaillé-Coll organ sounded splendid. We were lucky to hear it being put through its paces by a student at the local conservatoire taking an exam, so I was told when I enquired.
As ever, it’s such a pity that Orléans Cathedral doesn’t boast a choir on British lines; although expensive to run, they take worship to an entirely different level.
After our visit to the cathedral and an ice cream at a café opposite, we took a tram across the river to admire the view northwards.
What sentimental journey would you like to make, or have you made? Tell me about it in the comments below.