Pays de la Loire
Information and Tourism
Situated in the west of France, Pays de la Loire used to be part of Brittany. Then, several decades ago, the powers-that-be created a purpose-built administrative region for the city of Nantes. Name change aside, when it comes to customs, celebrations and culture in general, there is no disputing that some parts of the region harbour a distinctly Celtic influence.
In recent years, Nantes has reinvented itself as a lively student haunt, with a youthful population and alternative music and cultural vibes. It wears its Breton heritage on its sleeve for all to see, from its magnificent medieval chateau to its reinvented shipyards. Heading away from Nantes and towards the sea are the misty marshes of the Grande-Brière Natural Park and the town of Guèrande, famous for the salt pans that once made this part of France the salt store of Europe.
Pays de la Loire boasts its own stretch of seaside, with mile upon mile of sandy beaches, rugged coastline, hidden coves and picturesque fishing ports, like Piriac-sur-Mer. For beach life at its best, head to La Baule, a traditional 'station balnéaire' (seaside resort) with golden sands that seem to go on forever. It is been entertaining visitors since the late 19th century.
The Loire River is the backbone of the Pays de la Loire region. Often thought of as the last wild and free-flowing river in France, it used to be a hive of commercial industry. Nowadays, it is content to settle for a less energetic life transporting tourists on river cruises. The banks of the Loire are dotted with elegant chateaux and scenes of wild beauty.
The Loire runs to the south of Angers, the capital of the historic county of Anjou. Its fortress-like chateau is a far cry from the more fairytale versions found to the east, but it is no less imposing. Within its stone walls is the medieval Apocalypse tapestry, where advance knowledge of the Bible definitely comes in handy if you are to follow the story through to the end.
North of the Loire Valley is Le Mans, a busy modern city best known for a race that takes place here each year, in June. Tourists and locals are gripped in an automotive-themed frenzy for 24 hours. Otherwise, Le Mans is a fairly sedate place to while away an afternoon.
Pays de la Loire Information and Fast Facts
- Country: France
- Main city or administrative centre: Nantes
- Population: approximately 3.8 million
- Language: French
- Area: 12,390 square miles / 32,090 square kilometres
Map of France