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Loire Valley - Georaphy


Geography of the Loire Valley (Val de Loire)


To ask where the' Loire Valley' is located in France is opening yourself up to a geographical debate.


Here is our take on it:


If we start with the river Loire itself --the longest in France--it 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 . It would have been so much easier to have headed for the Mediterranean!

So 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 really 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. This 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 Touraine and Anjou historical names 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 diminish their international marketing efforts.



The region of Centre, which contains most of the UNESCO site, failed to include the river in its name even though it flows through four of its six departments! It has now incorporated it into its tourism marketing to great success as (Centre-Val de Loire), promoting not only the area as inscribed by UNESCO but the whole of the region which includes the historic former provinces of Berry, Touraine and Orleanais. 

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


Map showing principle towns here....


  Video through Val de Loire       


Gites in Loire Valley







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"Author: Jim Craig"