The Loire Valley Offers a Diversity

By: Douglas Scott

The Loire valley offers great diversity, stemming from the wealth of history and culture synonymous with the region, which can be seen in the numerous chateaux on the banks of the two main rivers.

The countryside is lush and green with opportunities for bird watching near the sand banks and islands on the rivers Loir and Loire. Guided boat trips are available. Many specialist bicycle and walking trails are being created.

The region has a temperate climate due to Atlantic influences. The summers are generally hot, but in the spring and autumn, temperatures are considerably lower.

Renowned for its sumptuous chateaux, the relics of royal days gone by, the glorious valley of the Loire is rich in both history and architecture. Like the river Loire, this vast region runs through the heart of French life. Its sophisticated cities, luxuriant landscape and magnificent food and wine add up to a bourgeois paradise. The lush Loire valley is supremely regal.

Orleans was Frances intellectual capital in the 13th century, attracting artists, poets and troubadours to the royal court. But the medieval court never stayed in one place for long, which led to the building of magnificent chateaux all along the Loire.
Chambord and Chenonceaux, the two greatest Renaissance chateaux remain prestigious symbols of royal rule, resplendent with their ornamental gardens.

Due to its central location, culture and fine cuisine, Tours is the natural visitors capital.

Angers is a close second, but more authentic are the historic towns of Amboise, Blois, Saumur and Beaugency, strung out like jewels along the river.

This is the classic Loire valley, a chateau trail which embraces the Renaissance gardens of Villandry and the fairytale turrets of Azay le Rideau.

Venture northwards and the cathedral cities of Le Mans and Chartres reign supreme, their medieval centres bordered by Gallo Roman walls.Nantes in the west is a breezy, forward looking port and gateway to the Atlantic. Southwards, the windswept Vendee is edged by a wild, sandy coastline that is perfect for windsurfers and nature lovers alike.Inland, the Loires more peaceful tributaries and the watery Sologne beg to be explored.

Also ripe for discovery are the troglodyte caves, sleepy hamlets, and small Romanesque churches decorated with frescoes.

Inviting inns offer game, fish and abundant fresh vegetables to be lingered over with light white Vouvray wine, or full bodied Bourgueil.

Overindulgence is no sin in this rich region. The river Loire at Montsoreau, southeast of Saumur.
The fairytale chateau de Saumur towering above the town and the river Loire.

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