Photo: CRT Western Loire
Western Loire, one of France's most popular province, stretches from the borders of the Ile-de-France to the Atlantic coast, covering 33,000 sq.kms. It is well known for the impressive river Loire, its magnificent châteaux and beaches of the Vendée. The five departments of the Loire-Atlantique, Anjou, Mayenne, Sarthe and Vendée make up this highly historical, cultural and spiritual region.
Navigate along the beautiful rivers through the departments of Sarthe or Mayenne where the pace of intimate villages is so quiet and peaceful, and discover the far stretching scenery crossed by beautiful stretches of water. Cycling along the banks of the Loire towards the sea is very pleasurable, especially as the countryside is not too hilly. From the sophisticated La Baule, the most beautiful bay in Europe with golden fine sandy beach nearly 9 km long, to the child friendly dunes of 'Les Sables-d'Olonne' and through its many amazing castles, the Western Loire has so much to offer.
No other destination offers such a variety of extraordinary sites as the Valley of the Kings. It once was the favourite area of French Kings where the 'Capétians' established their dynasty before settling for Paris. Travel around the old cities of Orléans and Bourges in eastern Loire, take a trip to the west towards Angers and Nantes (Jules Verne's birth place) and do not miss a trip to Le Puy du Fou, a remarkable medieval theme park planted on almost 90 acres of land. Further south is Saumur, home of the tasty sparkling wine and in close proximity to Fontevraud Abbey, the biggest monastery in Europe and final resting place of King Richard the Lionheart.
Many of the regions' châteaux and their beautiful gardens are open to visit, and one should experience one of their many sound, light and fireworks displays in the evening, or enjoy some of the very popular outdoors summer music festivals.
In Western Loire the climate is mild; by the sea, once the Atlantic's clean and refreshing air has opened your appetite, try the local specialities such as fresh apple juice, toasts with rillettes, seafood, various cakes and other 'gourmet' food. Taste the many fruity wines and don't forget to stock up! Click on the links on the left to learn about a specific department.