The Renaissance in Orleans
In the heart of the Loire Valley
An intellectual movement started in Italy in the Quattrocento (15th century), the Renaissance spread far and wide, arriving in France, and the Loire Valley more specifically, in the early 16th century.
Orleans, a Renaissance city
A former royal city, Orleans was at that time a vibrant and prosperous place owing to its position on the Loire and close proximity to Paris.
It had a well-respected university attended by eminent intellectuals including Erasmus, Guillaume Budé, Rabelais, La Boétie, Théodore de Bèze and Calvin.
The city experienced a sweeping artistic revival, inspired by the Italian art of living that Francis I and others introduced.
Religious buildings were constructed, streets widened, and the wealthy middle classes commissioned large estates. Today, we can still admire their elegant architecture and refined, Italianate decoration, sculpted medallions and busts, as well as half-timbered façades combining stone and brickwork.
Hôtel Groslot, Hôtel Cabu, Hôtel des Créneaux, Maison de la Coquille, half-timbered houses… Orleans has a remarkable collection of original Renaissance monuments and buildings.
A radiant era
Following the Hundred Years’ War, Orleans expanded with the construction of its last city wall and became a vast construction site!
The University of Orleans was at the height of its influence and the architectural decoration gradually adopted Italianate motifs. Many 15th-16th century houses had timber-framed facades with Renaissance-style decoration.
In the 1540s and 50s, nobles and middle-class people built stone or brick houses decorated with classical motifs!
Renaissance gift collection
We offer you a new range of Renaissance-inspired products and souvenirs to discover in the Tourist Office shop and online.
The range was created by Orleans-based graphic designers.