Monday, 29 August 2011

Where exactly is the Loire Valley?

We are 'Experience Loire', dedicated to bring you information on the Loire Valley to allow you to make the most of your holiday/vacation in this delightful part of France.
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We have decided to start this blog to answer questions you may have and to keep you up to date with what we are up to with regards to our exploring and experiences while we live and work here.

We thought a good starting point would be in establishing exactly where the Loire valley or 'Val de Loire' is  within France.

To ask the question can open up a geographical debate.We thought we should give our take on this. 

Lets start with the river Loire itself --the longest in France--it has its source in springs on the mountain sides of the southern Cevennes hills within the department of the Ardeche. It  flows north to Orleans, west through Tours and on to the Atlantic coast  at Nantes.-- over 1000km . It would have been so much easier to have headed south for the Mediterranean!
Over such a distance it leaves its mark and valleys over a huge geographical area. The area commonly referred to as the 'Loire Valley 'or 'Val de Loire ' -- is the area along the river that takes in the majority of the famous chateaux -- and  became formalised with its inclusion on the list of world heritage sites in November 2000. This was identified as the area along the river Loire between Sully-sur-Loire in Loiret  and Chalonnes-sur-Loire in Maine-et -Loire (Anjou) a distance of 280km. It also takes in the Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Natural Park and the park at  chateau Chambord.

So the 'Loire Valley' as far as UNESCO is concerned takes in the departments of  Loiret, Loir-et-Cher,Indre-et-Loire (formerly Touraine) in the Centre region plus the department of Maine-et-Loire (formerly Anjou) in the Pays de la Loire region. The historical names Touraine and Anjou  have been chosen by the respective departments to market their tourism industry - where we can understand the desire to link to their rich heritage we wonder if it does not dilute their international marketing efforts.
 Even though the Loire river flows through four of its six departments the region of Centre, which contains most of the UNESCO site, failed to include the river in its name! This mistake had, in fact, been made at the assignation of names for the newly formed Regions (1982) as Centre, rather than  Pays de la Loire (with only two) had the stronger claim to have it included in its name. It has now incorporated it into its tourism marketing to great success as 'Centre-Val de Loire', promoting not only the UNESCO site but the whole of the region which includes the historic former provinces of Berry, Touraine and Orleanais.
 This area covered by our site,, 

The Loire river  gives its name to a number of departments of France as it flows towards the Atlantic: Loire (no connection with Val de Loire), Haute-Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Indre-et-Loire, Maine-et-Loire, and Saône-et-Loire.

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