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Loire ChateauThe 800 mile long River Loire runs through the region which has Brittany to its north-west and Normandy to its north-east, Poiutou-Charentes to its south, France Centre to its East and the Atlantic Sea to its west.  There are numerous - in fact hundreds of - chateaux and manor houses along its banks.  The Loire is said to be the most beautiful river in France. The beautiful Loire valley has vineyards producing wines such as Muscadet and Gros Plants.  There are orchards in abundance.  The coastal departments are Loire-Atlantique and Vendée.  Its capital, Nantes is picturesque but also a hive of industry, Le Mans is the venue for the famous 24 hour motor race and Angers is famous for its cathedral

 

The Loire Valley is a wonderful place. Rightfully famous for its famous Châteaux, there is a lot more to this beautiful valley. This was the home of the French Kings. As well as the Royal Palaces, there are many huge and wonderful châteaux. The Loire Valley is also known as the “Garden of France”, and some of the best food is served in the Loire Valley. The wine is also far more interesting than many people think. This is pretty far north for wine country, but there is a long tradition of winemaking in the Loire Valley including quality appellations such as Vouvray, Bonnezeaux, Saumur-Champigny and St Nicholas de Borgeuil

 

The river Loire is more than 1,000 km long. It is the longest river of France and is said to be the most beautiful river of France. The valley of Loire is in the patrimony of UNESCO.

 

Population 1,187,276 inhabitants

Surface 6,815 km2

133 km of coast and 68 km of beaches.

 

Departments

Loire-Atlantique (44),

Mayenne (53),

Sarthe (72),

Maine-et-Loire (49)

Vendée (85).

 

Capital Nantes 

 

Main Towns Angers, Le Mans

Angers is picturesque and has a beautiful chateau where many tapestries are on view and the Cathedrale Saint-Maurice,

 

 

Spécialités

Loire-Atlantique's particular feature is that it produces most of what it consumes. Both in quality and in taste, the vegetables and the fruits, the meat and the dairy products, just like the freshwater and sea fish, all merit this label of authenticity.

 

  • Le Sel de Guérande  collected in the salt marshes

  • Berlingots nantais  Typical sweets of Nantes

  • Gateau nantais  Typical cake of Nantes with a taste of Vanilla and rum

  • Petit beurre The famous biscuit born in 1886. (You can have a look at the LU factory which first producted les petits beurres)

 

The Wines of Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is a long way north for a wine region, but for centuries “the Garden of France” has produced vast quantities of wine. The only world class wines from the Loire are the “vins liquoreux” found among the Coteaux du Layon but there are wines of real interest and quality to be found in this region.

Saumur-Champigny is restricted to just 9 municipalities, but the appellation of Saumur is the largest producer of sparkling wines in the world outside Champagne. Some argue that this is where the “traditional method” was first discovered, and there are some wines of real quality produced under the appellation of Saumur Brut.

Another appellation is Vouvray, one of the most renowned appellations in France. Vine-growers in Vouvray can only produce white wine, and can only use the Chenin Blanc grape, but the variety of wines is surprising. There are bone-dry Vouvray Sec wines, and they range from off-dry to moelleux (not quite as sweet as a vin liquoreux). There are also sparkling wines and most unusually of all, Vouvray Pétillant - very slightly sparkling wine.  Also see Carte des Vins

 

 

Places to Visit and Things to Do 

 

Guérande 

The salt marshes  Classified as one of the 100 ‘Sites of Remarkable Taste’ in France, this magical place, where seawater circulates through a complex network of canals and basins, is the ride of Guérande.

Typical villages and ports Le Croisic, Piriac-sur-mer, Batz-sur-mer, la Turballe… 

The medieval town centre of Guérande Medieval center of town surrounded by 1.434 km of ramparts (15th/16th Century)

 

Le Parc de la Briere

At about 15km from Saint-Nazaire, la Briere is the second marshland of France. During a boat trip you can meet dukes, herons, etc… You can visit one of the little villages with thatched roof houses (typical in Briere). This park is especially to protect and emphasize this marshlands. 

 

Nantes 

Parc zoologique de la Boissiere du dore  500 animals Green Grapes

Planete sauvage  2000 animals free, 10 km tracks of safari. 

Cruise on the Erdre You can make a cruise on the most beautiful river of France. 

Several guided visits of places in Nantes   Tariff  7€, booking  0 892 464 044 

Chateau des ducs de Bretagne The castle has been built in the 13th Century on a Gallo-Roman wall.Open from 10.00 to 19.00 and possibility of audio guides in several languages.  

Cathedrale de Saint-Pierre Where you can see the graves of Francois II and Marguerite de Foix (Parents of Anne de Bretagne). This Cathedral is considered as a masterpiece of the French sculpture. 

Ile de Versailles This is a little Island in the centre of Nantes which was originally a swamp. Today l’ile de Versaille is a Japanese Garden with falls, ponds, water lilies and bamboos.

 

Saumur The city has no less than 54 listed monuments (the famous Fontevraud Abbey, cave dweller houses, and is dominated by the proud silhouette of its chateau.

 

Vendée  In Vendée there are several Castles (Chateau de Gilles de Rais a Tiffauges, Chateau d’Apremont, Château de Sigournais, Château de St Mesmin), Abbeys, Parks and Gardens (Le Jardin du vent in Notre-Dame-des-Monts offers an artistic, funny and instructive walk, medieval garden in Bazoges, Rose garden in Saint Réverend)

 

Le puy du fou The Park offers a travel in the past with animations like a reconstitution of a Viking battle. There are 4 reconstitutions of 3 villages from the 18th, 19th and a medieval city. Now you can stay the evening for a show by night. Adult  25€, Child  15€

 

Angers  Forteresse du Roi René A very beautiful castle where you can admire the “tapisseries de l’apocalypse” (tapestries of Apocalypse) (Nantes – Angers = 88km)

 

La Baule A famous seaside resort with the most beautiful beach of Europe (9km length).

 

Batz-sur-mer Little town situated in the mist of salt marshes the commune comprises the villages of Kermoisan, Kervalé, Roffiat and Trégaté.

 

Clisson There are several monuments in the valley of Clisson like the castle of Clisson, the Church of Notre-Dame, Templar’s Chapel etc…

 

Pornichet Sea-side resort with three Beaches, Country with walk an bike circuits

 

Pornic Famous sea-side resort with beaches, sport, but also walks around the castle.

 

La Plaine-sur-Mer The city of La-Plaine-sur-mer is located on Atlantic coast in South Brittany, 10 miles from the Loire estuary and 35 miles from the city of Nantes. This coast was named " Coast of Jade" after the because of the sea colours so particular and deep, oscillating from dark green to silvery blue.

 

Le Croisic Little beautiful town with a fishing port, 10km of beaches, a wild seacoast, the proximity of salt marshes and a wealthy architectural patrimony.

 

Mesquer Little town with old houses especially “the house of patrimony” which is now used for exhibitions. Mesquer was nicknamed in the past “The little capital of salt”.

 

Piriac-sur-Mer Little Sea-side resort. The centre of the town shelters old houses, some of them are aged of more of 300 years old.

 

La Turballe Is one of the most important port of France (the 5th) but also a beautiful sea-side resort with nice beaches.

 

Chateaux of the Loire

In the early 1400's the Burgandians were fighting for their independence and set fire to Paris.  The Dauphin (actually a Burgundian title which had been given to the Princes of France) was taken to the safety of the Castle at Chinon.  For the century that followed the French Court relocated to the Loire Valley as it was considered to be safer than Paris.  The noblemen built the chateaux, the lesser nobility built beautiful houses and there was much restoration work undertaken to the walled towns of the region. Eventually the court returned to Paris but their residences remained.  Some were the homes of the mistresses of the kings such as Maintenon" who was said to be the secret wife of Louis XIV lived in Montigny-le-Gannelon a chateau built on a steep hill to the north of the region.  Dianne de Poitiers, mistress of King Henry II was another inhabitant of the Loire.  Agnès Sorrel, mistress of Charles VII was so adorerd that she was given a Chateau for every child she bore him and in total there were four! The chateau of Loches is the largest

Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years at Clos-Lucé in Amboise - this chateau having been given to him by Francis I.  There was a strong Italian Renaissance influence regarding some of the Chateaux.

The Chateaux are a strong attraction for tourists with sons et lumière a frequent attraction.  Their magnificence is awe inspiring. Many of the wonderful gardens are preserved.  At 14th century, Aimay-le-Vieil, which is the southernmost castle,  over a thousand varieties of old roses flower.  Valencay which was the home of Talleyrand, Napolean's Prime Minister, has a deer park.

The chateau of Gien gives its name to ceramics, and is the location of a ceramics works commenced by an  Englishman Thomas Hulm who wanted to introduce English fine china into France.  The colour "Gien blue" is famous to this day.