Situated in an area reaching from the Ile de France in the North to the mouth of the magnificent Loire River, a world UNESCO heritage site, in the south, the Western Loire offers a superb level of diversity for visiting tourists.
As the department was created in the mid twentieth century as a way of easing administration, it combines a wealth of experiences from many different regions and brings them together in a vibrant mix. The Western Loire ranges from medieval castles to wild marshes and heath lands and features magnificent old cities, churches and abbeys.
Places to go
Much of the Western Loire's charm rests in its idyllic medieval towns, such as Gurande and Fontenay-la Compte, which are well worth dedicating the best part of a day to. Most towns will have ample outside restaurants in which to sit, eat and soak up the atmosphere. The bigger cities such as Nantes, Laval and Saumur each have their own distinct characters and should be approached in their own rights.
Away from the urban settings, the Western Loire has much to offer in terms of natural beauty, with outstanding spots for bird watching, fishing, mountain biking and rambling. The southern part of the Western Loire was also an important area of settlements for Troglodytes, early humans, and there are many cave systems and prehistoric villages to visit.
Food and drink
Many of the Western Loire's food specialities revolve around the ocean, with the regional delicacy of the 'beurre blanc', a special sauce to accompany fish dishes. Sweets are another important specialty of the area, with sweets such as Quernons d'Ardoise and Berlingots Nantais featuring highly in the local gastronomy.
The region also has a certain number of indigenous drinks such as Cointreau, a liqueur made from orange peel, and kamok, a coffee-based liqueur.
Ferries to the Western Loire
- Brittany Ferries - Portsmouth to Caen
- Brittany Ferries - Portsmouth to St Malo
- Condor Ferries - Poole to St Malo
- Condor Ferries - Weymouth to St Malo
- LD Lines - Portsmouth to Le Havre
The Western Loire is well served by a network of toll-paying motorways and free dual carriageways, allowing for easy and stress-free access to all parts of the region.
Cars aren't the only way of getting around. The region is also well served by train networks. TGV trains go between the main cities (Paris to Nantes takes just 2 hours) whilst, with over 200 stations in the region, smaller towns are served by local trains and coaches. Prices are low and the journeys are quick, clean and efficient.
Perhaps the best way of seeing the Western Loire is by hiring a house boat and exploring the region from the river for a week or two.