Embarquez pour le festival de Loire ©F-Charel

Board now for the
Loire Festival

The Loire Festival will be back from the 20th to the 24th of September and I, for one, am not going to miss it: for a few days, Orléans takes a step back in time to once more become the leading port supplying Paris. The event is held once every two years, so don't you miss it either!

The River Loire was once the leading commercial link across France and Orléans was a bustling and lively port near Paris.

However, with the advent of rail transport, the port's activity declined, then eventually disappeared. Since the 2000s, the Loire Valley's addition to Unesco's World Heritage List has contributed towards this new lease of life. Orléans has finally returned its gaze towards its river and has made an old dream come true: the dream to renovate its historic centre and port, and to enliven the banks of the Loire: a homecoming... back to the river!


Embarquez pour le festival de Loire © Christophe Lörsch

Embarquez pour le festival de Loire © Christophe Lörsch

Embarquez pour le festival de Loire © Christophe Lörsch

Embarquez pour le festival de Loire © Christophe Lörsch

Embarquez pour le festival de Loire © Christophe Lörsch

Embarquez pour le festival de Loire © Christophe Lörsch

Embarquez pour le festival de Loire © Christophe Lörsch

Embarquez pour le festival de Loire © Christophe Lörsch

Embarquez pour le festival de Loire © Christophe Lörsch

Embarquez pour le festival de Loire © Christophe Lörsch

Why you must go there

The festival is, first and foremost, Europe's leading inland marine gathering, reuniting over 200 boats from the River Loire and elsewhere. But it is also a five-day celebration of the River Loire, of its culture and its way of life - a celebration that is highly appreciated by its 650,000 visitors.
So, whether you are a boat lover, a sailor's song aficionado or simply like to enjoy a good concert or street performance, you are sure to appreciate!


Make sure you don't miss


1. The boats, of course! Those from the Loire and those from other rivers. The Ebro in Catalonia and the Basque Coast will be this year's honoured guests. Gabares, toues, barges and other traditional flat-bottomed vessels all have their own enthusiastic fans, who are delighted to offer a new lease of life to inland navigation.
Some boats, however, stay at the quayside, transformed into stages, where mariners sing typical songs. Others demonstrate navigational manoeuvres (towing, 'boat trains'...), or take you to the river for a boat trip amidst the small dams and the sandbanks.

2. On the old quays, once used to unload goods, craftworkers, shipwrights, rope makers, coopers and many more offer demonstrations of bygone skills. Each festival is a brand new opportunity to learn more about these old river trades.

4. Budding mariners can also make the most of the festivities over specially devised activities and workshops. Throughout the festival, street performers, joyful acrobats and fairground attractions are also there to entertain them.

3. Much to eat and drink
A long time ago, this was where barrels of wine were unloaded and stored ready to be sold to Parisian buyers (for the quality wines) or to vinegar makers (for the 'tart' ones), and where cane sugar and spices were imported from the French colonies.
Today, the festival is an excellent excuse for discovering and tasting both local specialities and those from invited regions, over the many festival stalls.  Here and there, long open-air tables and shaded terraces invite you to take a gourmet break amidst the festivities. What greater pleasure - the mariners themselves will agree - than a glass of Orléans pinot gris meunier (with due moderation!) or a glass of fresh apple juice, to the sound of the mariners' songs?

5. In the evening, the festival takes on an even livelier face with a varied programme of concerts in different venues throughout the town: what style would you prefer - soul, rock or some genuine 'chanson française'?
The Loire's boats, bridges and islands are illuminated for the event and the highly popular fireworks displays, organised on weekends, are always full of surprises.

Keep the festivities going

The festival is also the perfect opportunity to discover Orléans, in particular its historic quarter, between the cathedral and the Loire: Renaissance properties, colourful half-timbered houses, pretty boutiques... Orléans is perfect for a stroll, but don't forget to look skywards to appreciate its many surprises!

They are all part of the Orléans experience, and you can come back and admire them at any time of year:
-boat-restaurants on the quayside: the boat-wash house and the Inex, a miniature copy of the Inexplosible steamboat.
-open air balls and quayside entertainment throughout the summer.
-trips on traditional boats in Orléans, Sigloy.
-the Maison de Loire association in Jargeau.
-the Musée de la Marine de Loire in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire.



Où dormir à Orléans ?

Hôtels Chambres d’hôtes

Practical festival information

From Wednesday 20th to Sunday 24th September 2017. Highlights over the weekend. If you're not fond of the crowd, then we advise you stick to weekdays.

How to get here?
From Paris or Tours: A10 motorway
From the Gare d'Austerlitz station in Paris, 1 hour train journey then tramway to the Royale-Châtelet station.
The entire festival zone is for pedestrians only and is totally safe. Underground car parks nearby in the town centre.


Contact and information:

Orléans Tourist Office, Tel: 0033 (0)2 38 24 05 05