Pays-de-la-Loire

General Info

Regional Map
Conseil Régional
Tourism: Western Loire Tourisme
Capital: Nantes
Departments: Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe, and Vendée
Arrondissements-17, Cantons-192, Communes-1,503
Population: 3,499,830 (2008 est.)
France Pays-de-la-Loire  Region Departments Map

Overview

Pays de la Loire Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
Pays-de-la-Loire is in the western part of the Loire Valley in the former provinces of Anjou (Angers), Maine (LeMans), and the Vendé. The area is famous for beautiful green valleys, curvy rivers, and many châteaux positioned along the Loire river. Along the coast in Vendée are windswept sandy coastlines and at the east side of the region are the curious troglodyte caves in Saumur. The 634 mile (1020 km) Loire is the country's longest and most regal river and cuts a wide, flat valley through beautiful countryside. It starts from the Massif Central through going Bourgogne, Orléanais, Blésois, Touraine, and Anjou then into the Atlantic.
During the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) the Loire river marked the boundary between the French and English. Nantes, the regional capital, was the traditional seat of the Dukes of Bretagne, but in 1962 ceased to be part of that region. Today, hot-air ballooning is popular here as it affords spectacular aerial views of the Loire Valley and all its masterpieces.

Pays-de-la-Loire Departmental Information

Notable Towns and Sights in the Pays-de-la-Loire Region

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud (Maine-et-Loire) is located in the village of Fontevraud-l'Abbaye near Chinon and is the largest and best-preserved medieval abbey in Europe. It was founded in the 12th-century and was a double Benedictine monastery, with monks, nuns, and nobles all on the same site. The abbey was formerly the site of the tombs of King Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their son King Richard I of England. During the French Revolution, the order was dissolved and their tombs destroyed. The abbey restoration was completed in 1906. France Pays-de-la-Loire Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
Angers (Maine-et-Loire) lies along both banks of the Maine river and was once an administrative capital under the Romans. It is a gateway to the Loire Valley and has several worthwhile sights including the massive 13th-century Château d'Angers which houses the longest and finest medieval tapestry in the world. L'Apocalypse is 338 feet (103m) long depicting 68 medieval scenes of battles between hydras and angels, and was commissioned by Louis I in 1375. Nearby is the 12th-13th century Cathédrale Saint Maurice noted for its façade and 13th-century stained-glass windows. The Musée David d'Angers gallery is housed in the 11th-century abbey, Cloître Toussaint, and has a glass roof for natural light to enter. Also in Angers is the Musée Jean Lurçat et de la Tapisserie Contemporaine which houses ten monumental tapestries from 1960 by Lurçat depicting human destruction. The Musée Cointreau is where the famous orange liqueur is made from a top-secret recipe producing about 30 million bottles a year. France Pays-de-la-Loire Agers Château d'Angers
Château de Brissac (Maine-et-Loire) was originally built as a fortified castle by the Counts of Anjou in the 11th-century. Today, the Château Brissac is still owned by a de Cossé family member. It has seven stories altogether, making it the tallest château in the Loire Valley. It is open to tours and its luxurious gilded theater hosts the annual Val de Loire festival. It also offers overnight accomodation with two suites and two historical lavishly-decorated bedrooms. France Pays-de-la-Loire Château de Brissac
Ile de Yeu (Vendée) is a French island just off the Vendée coast and has two harbours, Port-Joinville, and La Meule. The 14th-century Vieux-château de l'Île d'Yeu was built with the aim of protecting the islanders in the event of foreign invasion. During the Renaissance, Jean V de Rieux, master of the isle, erected towered-walls around the castle. The Château became obsolete upon introduction of Vauban's new architectural designs for coastal forts. It was demolished at the end of the 17th-century along with several other ancient castles on the French coast by order of Louis XIV who worried that they could be taken by an enemy and used as strongholds. The Vieux-château has been classified as a Monument historique since 1890. Map France Pays-de-la-Loire Vieux Château de l'Île d'Yeu
Le Mans (Sarthe) is located on the Sarthe river and has a well-preserved old town, Vieux Mans, with some of its Gallo-Roman walls still surrounding it as well as Renaissance mansions and half-timbered houses. The town's name is equated with motor sports and there are two separate racetracks here, the Bugatti Circuit and the longer and better-known Circuit de la Sarthe which actually uses part of the public road. The famous 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race has been here since 1923. Other sights include the Gothic Cathédrale Saint Julien, dedicated to Saint Julian of Le Mans, the city's first bishop. Also here is the Musée de l'Automobile. France Pays-de-la-Loire Le Mans Audi race car
Le Puy du Fou (Vendée) is an historical theme park in Les Epesses and brings in some 1.2 million visitors every year, making it the second most popular attraction in France after Euro Disney. The theme park was started in 1977 when the local archaeological club discovered the ruins of a castle that had been destroyed during the Revolt in the Vendée. The park is split into five separate attractions, each running for approximately 30-40 minutes: The Battle of the Keep, The Vikings, Gladiators,, Phantom Birds Dance, and Richeulieu's Musketeers. France Pays-de-la-Loire Le Puy du Fou theme park
Nantes (Loire-Atlantique) is a university city and was formerly the capital of Brittany. It has well-tended parks, plenty of cafés and restaurants, and fine museums. Sights here include the recently restored Château des Ducs de Bretagne where the Edict of Nantes was signed in 1598 by Henry IV. The Flamboyant Gothic Cathédrale Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul (photo) has the tomb of François II and his wife and is considered a Renaissance masterpiece. Museums here include the renowned Musée des Beaux-Arts with one of the finest collections of French works outside of Paris with a range of works by La Tour, Ingres, and Monet to those of Picasso and Kandinsky. Also worthwhile are the Musée Dobrée (medieval artifacts and Renaissance furniture) and the Musée Jules Verne with items associated with the visionary science-fiction writer who was born in Nantes in 1828. France Pays-de-la-Loire Château des Ducs de Bretagne
Saumur (Maine-et-Loire) lies on the Loire river and is home to the Cadre Noir, the École Nationale d'Équitation (National School of Horsemanship), known for its annual horse shows, as well as the officer school for armored forces. Overlooking the town is the spectacular 14th-century Château de Saumur built by Louis XI in 1246 and now housing two museums, for horses and medieval decorative arts. The tank museum here, Musée des Blindés, has more than 150 armored vehicles, wheeled or tracked. Saumur is also known for its Troglodytes which are caves hollowed into the chalky limestone (tufa) cliff faces and are now used to store wine, grow mushrooms, and baking fouaces, a pita bread typical of the area. South of Saumur is the Gothic Château de Montreuil-Bellay from 1025 which has thirteen interlocking towers and ramparts, ancient wine cellars, and 15th-century frescoes in the oratory. France Pays-de-la-Loire Château de Saumur

Solesmes (Sarthe) is a commune that is almost entirely agricultural, but is notable as the site of the Benedictine St. Peter's Abbey (photo), originally founded in 1010 AD and re-established by Dom Prosper Guéranger in 1833. A second abbey for women, St. Cecilia's Abbey, is also located here. France Pays-de-la-Loire Solesmes Saint Peter's Abbey

Les Plus Beaux Villages in the Pays-de-la-Loire Region

Loire-Atlantique

Mayenne

Maine-et-Loire

Montsoreau

Sarthe

Vendée

Vouvant
France Centre region
Complete List of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

Natural Parks in the Nord-Pas de Calais Region

Additional Resources for the Pays-de-la-Loire Region

Average Monthly Temperatures in the Pays-de-la-Loire Region

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