Pays de la Loire

Kings, dukes and feudal lords ventured throughout this region building majestic homes and fortresses.

Today, all of Loire, Centre and Pays de la Loire are bejewelled with a plethora of the world’s finest homes, castles, abbeys and fortresses.

Pays de la Loire chateaux

One of the area’s most interesting is the Chateau de Breze. It is one of the only chateaux still occupied by descendants of its creators. Chateau de Brissac is seven different levels, one of the tallest royal residences in France.

Chateau du Lude and Chateau de Laval are both exquisite with Renaissance facades, but the Chateau de Lude also blends French Classicism, Renaissance and Medieval into a stunning work of art. Nantes is home to the Chateau de Nantes, a mega stone fortress and nearby in the glorious Clisson Valley are the medieval ruins Chateau de Clisson, currently being restored.

Points of interest in Pays de la Loire

The city of Nantes is formally of Brittany and still retains much of a Breton heritage and culture. It is good mix of modern architecture with an ancient core. The Place St Croix and the Chateau de Nantes are both worth a visit and the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne is astounding! The countryside around Nantes is well worth exploring.

Drive, cycle or float the river waters to see Muscadet vineyards, chateaux and the lovely small country hamlets. The Clisson Valley is fabulous to explore, once completely destroyed and then rebuilt with much Italian influences.

The Vendee was the centre of the French resistance that would not succumb. Though violence plagued its past, is it a lovely area worth visiting. Angers has a lot to offer travellers like a massive tapestry in the city’s chateau that illustrates the Apocalypse and the intricate details of the stained glass at the St Maurice cathedral.

Saumur is a gorgeous town. Resting aside the Loire River, its chateau and spire of St Pierre dominate the skyline. The city is famous for sparkling wines, mushrooms and a cavalry school. Outside of town, visit the ancient troglodyte dwellings. These are cave dwellings carved into soft limestone cliffs. These have been used as secure homes for centuries.

Just south of Saumur is one of France’s most picturesque towns, Montreuil-Bellay. The 13 interlocking towers of the astounding Chateau de Montreuil-Bellay present an impenetrable fortress and the Gothic church in the city centre is a true gem. Make sure you set time aside for wine tasting as the city is surrounded by fragrant vineyards.

Pays de la Loire cuisine

The Pays de la Loire is fed by the Loire River and its many different estuaries. Combine that water with the western border of the Atlantic Ocean, and it is no surprise that the region boasts excellent salmon, pike and trout grilled with a sea salt crust. The seafood is plentiful. Mussels, huge prawns, clams and lobsters all prevail across the coastline with loads of cafes and restaurants abutting the shores cooking the freshest catches- even your personal catch of the day!

The fruits of the earth inland are just as good as the sea bounties. The chicken is tender and juicy, and always, always grain fed. Check your menus for chapon du Mans or poulet de Loue for the choicest chicken in France. In and around Saumur is a maze of underground caves, or galleries, as they are often called. These aren’t for exploration; they are for growing mushrooms! Look for Vendee ham, rillettes (pork pate and herbs) from Le Mans and the regional Cremet d’Anjou (goat cheese in a wine soaked crust).

Pays de la Loire wine

If the food sounded sublime in the previous section, it might be of note to say now that Pays de la Loire is reputed more for its wine than for its cuisine. The region specialises in dry Muscadets and light sweet roses. More specifically, Saumur tends towards uncomplicated, light whites and roses. Saumur also brings to market palatable reds, and white and rose sparkling wines. Anjou is famous for Rose de Loire, a rose with a sweet hint of strawberries. Not wine, but of note is Cointreau. This after dinner drink is made of a variety of orange extracts and can be enjoyed on its own or used to make other concoctions, like cosmopolitans.

Sports in Pays de la Loire

Le Mans. Forever connected to the car industry and the modern Grand Prix, Le Mans is home to the legendary 24 Hour race. In its off time, visitors can test their skills on the professional track.

It is not hard to imagine in a country famous for the world’s leading cycling challenge, that cycling as a hobby and as a holiday activity has really taken off. The region of Pays de la Loire could not be any better suited for cycling holidays.

Not only is the countryside verdant and easily traversable, but the sights to see along the way will keep you peddling for days on end. Another cycling option is a coastal trip through the Loire-Atlantique region. The Vendee coast and around La Baule are excellent options!

La Baule is a holidaymaker’s haven. If you seek watersports, this is a great place to come and enjoy beautiful beaches and sporting opportunities like scuba diving, sailing, kitesurfing, windsurfing and swimming. The Loire River provides a bounty of fish, and fishing opportunities like fly fishing and carp fishing. Also visit the Atlantic coast for deep sea fishing.

One activity that people do not often consider is hot air ballooning. This is a tranquil way to gain a bird’s eye view of the diverse landscape of Pays de la Loire. The sprawling countryside of the region is also ideal for walking, hiking, horseback riding and climbing.