Experience the Loire Valley Home Page

River Loire - Loire Valley

Of the major cultural landscapes featuring river valleys in Europe perhaps the Loire Valley is the most famous. If it is the glorious chateaux that bring the tourists here, it has to be remembered it is the river Loire that is responsible for their very existence. Like most rivers it had became a place of settlement and trade since prehistory when Neanderthal man fashioned boats from tree trunks with their flint tools (see Le Grand Pressigny) to navigate the river.

It was the Romans however who first established major settlements on its shores that would eventually become its now famous historical towns and cities. Places such as Amboise, Angers, Blois, Orleans and Tours are steeped in history that can still be appreciated today.

River Loire at Montsoreau

The temperate climate along the Loire river valley is due to Atlantic influences and this provides the remarkably diverse range of wildlife and fauna which exist today. It also provides the ideal environment that has established France’s third largest wine region.


map of the Loire river within the Loire Valley


It was its popularity with the French Royal Families that left the wonderful legacy in the form of its glorious chateaux, gardens and parks. This influence and the areas natural beauty made UNESCO designate the stretch of the river (as shown above) and its monuments a world heritage site in November 2000.

Schools might want to visit baladeloire.corela.org - this very informative site on the Loire River using the themes of ‘Water’ ‘Land’ and ‘Development’. It includes panoramic photographs and good detail that will immerse each visitor in the landscapes of this mighty river.

From its source to the Atlantic :  The river la Loire, the longest in France, has its source in the springs on the side of Mont Gerbier de Jonc  in the southern Cevennes hills within the department of the Ardeche.* It then flows north to Orleans  and then west through Tours and on to the Atlantic coast  at Nantes.--a distance of over 1000km .

Map showing route of the river Loire


The river actually gives its name to a number of departments of France as it flows towards the Atlantic  Ocean : Loire**, Haute-Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Indre-et-Loire, Maine-et-Loire, and Sane-et-Loire.

Unlike most rivers in western Europe, there are few obstacles to  the Loire's natural flow, few locks and dams to slow its progress. One of the few obstacle, the Villerest dam, built in 1985 just south of Roanne has played a key-role in preventing recent flooding, making the Loire a popular river for boating trips flowing through attractive countryside, tofu cliffs and beautiful chateaux.


**Not the Loire Valley - This is the lesser known department that lies in the region of Rhone-alps in the south of the country


Click on link below for good info on the source of the river:




  Video through Val de Loire 


Loire river confluence with the river Vienne


The confluence of the Loire river and the Vienne river at Candes-Saint-Martin





* There are in fact three claims as to the real source of the river Loire watch the above video for an explanation.


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"Author: Jim Craig"