Armed with a Prius and a sense of adventure, my tribe headed to Orléans. King Louis XII felt that town was the “heart” of the French royalty, a treasure to be protected. In my humble opinion, it still is such a treasure. Situated on the Loire, Orléans is both scenic and a large enough town to be respectfully populated by stores, transportation, restaurants, and other amenities. The best part for me, though, was the lack of massive groups of tourists cramming the sidewalks and jockeying for the best position to get somewhere touristy. The people in Orléans were also extremely pleasant, and much friendlier than the folks in Paris.
There is plenty to see in Orléans, too (see here and here). I would consider visiting here before visiting Paris again. Sure, there is lots to do in Paris, but for a calmer vacation and relaxation, I think Orléans may just fit the bill.
One other thing: Joan of Arc. She is known as the “Maid of Orléans,” and led the people of the area to battle against the British, who were in the process of fighting on French soil as part of the Hundred Years’ War. She was tried for heresy in a bit of a kangaroo court, and burned at the stake. Although declared innocent in a subsequent, but sadly posthumous, trial, she still was a pawn in the powers of the government at the time.