Orléans, France, the capital of Loiret Department. The city is on the Loire River, 70 miles (113 km) south-southwest of Paris. Orleans is a rail center and inland port, connected with the Seine River by a short canal and the Loing River. Products include clothing, automobile equipment, farm machinery, chemicals, wines, and processed food. Orleans is the gateway to the nearby “château country,” where there are many mansions and parks of French nobles of bygone days.
Orléans was the ancient Gallic city of Genabum. It was burned by Julius Caesar in 52 B.C. and rebuilt by Emperor Aurelian, after whom it is named, about 272 A.D. An attack by Attila was repulsed in 451, but the city fell to Clovis in 498. It became an important Frankish city. In 1429 Joan of Arc lifted the English siege of Orleans and turned the tide of the Hundred Years' War. A monument to her is in Orléans. During the religious wars of the 16th century, the city was headquarters of the Huguenots. Orléans was occupied by the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War and World War II. It was heavily damaged by bombs in 1940 and 1944.