At the heart of a lush and fertile landscape so loved by French kings and nobility, poets and writers, the magnificent River Loire, France’s longest river, and its tributaries weave their magic, watched over by ancient castles and chateaux built originally for defence and later for private pleasure.
No longer commercial, the river, which flows over 1,000km from the Cevennes to the Atlantic, was once a major transport route for timber, fruit and wine before the coming of the railways.
The Central Loire Valley (Touraine) is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its exceptional beauty, architecture and history. You’ll find no mountains and gorges, but gentle undulating vine-covered slopes, market gardens and limestone cliffs - topped by fantastic architecture.
Along the Loire’s path are created some of the finest white wines in the world. Wine lovers and historians should follow the Touraine-Loire Valley Vineyards route or take the Valley of the Kings Historical Trail.
Cycling and walking are easy on the flat terrain. Roads built on embankments to prevent flooding follow the Loire’s course or walk the GR3 Loire path. Enjoy fishing and boating in places, although canoeists and walkers should be aware of whirlpools and quicksands between some of the river islands.