The Loire Region
The region - The Loire Valley- the story of a river
The Loire Valley is more than just a wine region. This extensive region has many sub wine regions - Nantes, Anjou, Touraine, Chinon, Bourgueil, Vouvray, Valcay, Coteaux to name a few. With its rivers and hills, castles (chateaux) and immaculate gardens, it is arguably the most scenic of France’s wine regions. The Loire is largely limestone and this is reflected in the building material of choice for everything from the grandest chateaux to modest homes and down to primitive vineyard shelters and barns - all are built from creamy white limestone
A river of History
At 1020km in length from its source in the Massif Central to its destination in the Atlantic Ocean, the Loire is France's longest river. The Loire drains 116,550 sq km of land, more than a fifth of France, and there are many châteaux and vineyards along its banks. The Loire gives its name to the départements of Loire, Haute-Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Indre-et-Loire, Maine-et-Loire, and Saône-et-Loire. Its main tributaries include the Nièvre, Maine, and Erdre on the right bank, and the Allier, Cher, Indre, Vienne, and Sèvre Nantaise on the left bank.
Formerly the playground of kings, princes and the nobility, the Pays du Loire is still the wealthiest area of France. Entering it is like stepping back in time. Originally built as q fortress in the Middle Ages, its castles, hunting lodges and manor houses were gradually converted into lavish pleasure palaces:
LOIRE VALLEY – a VINEYARD from the ocean to the mountains
Named after the river that runs through its heart, the Loire is one of the most famous places in western France. The Loire Valley exemplifies the good things in life: a leisurely pace of life, a mild climate, fine wines and a gentle people. The region is one of rolling countryside; the rich river valley and its vineyards, the fertile arable land, the orchards and the forests. Timeless villages hidden off the beaten track, or lively local towns. There are themed tours to follow, marked walks, wine discovery and 'degustation' routes and national park areas.
What makes this a great area for wine and food lovers?
When it comes to food and cuisine in a region that goes from the mountains to the sea, the range of food and styles are incredible. In a land once populated by kings, with castles having some of the finest kitchens in France, there has developed a long heritage of fine dining that is reflected in today’s cuisine. Balance this with a ready supply of produce from the sea and the land and you have the Loire style.
Beyond the river, the world-renowned wines and the scenery the region boasts numerous attractions.
Chateaux – With over 1000 grand chateaux including household names like Blois, Amborise, Azay-le-Rideau and our favourite, Chenonceaux.
Villages - Special secret villages like Candes-St-Martin, the troglodyte dwellings of underground and cave houses in Troo, the canal villages such as Combreux.
Historical places - The historical places such as the abbeys and cathedrals that have their beginnings back before 1000 AD
Unique foods and cuisine, The unique foods like the cheeses of Sainte Maure de Touraine, and Tarte Tatin, arguably the most famous dessert in France.And to go with such cuisine, the wines of The Loire.- white, red, rose, still and sparkling, dry and sweet.
Then the towns
Angers – Angers, the capital of the Anjou region, is situated on the river Maine, a few kilometres before the Maine joins the Loire. It is a thriving university town with wide boulevards, modern shops, beautiful public gardens and narrow older streets evocative of its long history.
Fontevraud – The Abbey of Fontevraud is the ancient burial place of the Plantagenets who were the Counts of Anjou, Ducs of Normandie and Aquitaine and then for over three hundred years Kings of England.
Chinon – Chinon is a lovely old fortified town with cobbled streets and alleys which wind their way up and down and along the hillside. The town and region are famous for the 'Chinon' vineyards where superb red wines are produced.
Saumur – an impressive town overlooked by the splendid 14th-century chateau with its black slate turrets and white tuffeau walls. Narrow streets wind their way down from the chateau to the Place Saint Pierre where there are half-timbered houses and a medieval church.
Tours – this cathedral city has a mixture of the new and old. At the heart of the city is the medieval town 'Le Vieux Tours' which shows evidence of Roman ancestors and Renaissance architecture