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Château de Chenonceau, in the Loire Valley, Pays de la Loire, France

- © proslgn / Shutterstock
Pays de la Loire
Pays de la Loire

As well as the magnificent châteaux of the Loire, the region is famous for its Nordic beaches with their vast stretches of sand and its unmissable gastronomy. Discover this hidden gem.

Pays de la Loire in short

The Loire region and its châteaux

The châteaux of the Loire are historic French Renaissance monuments located along the beautiful and bucolic Loire Valley. These châteaux, veritable jewels of French architecture and history, attract millions of visitors from all over the world every year. The most famous of them, such as Chambord, Chenonceau and Amboise, are outstanding examples of French Renaissance architecture.

The châteaux were originally built as residences for the French nobility and have been maintained in an exceptionally well-preserved state. Whether you want to admire the historic architecture, attend a vernissage, take a themed tour or spend the night in one of the Loire châteaux, there are a thousand and one reasons to discover these centuries-old monuments. For lovers of nature and relaxing landscapes, the gardens of the châteaux are also a must-see, with magnificent formal gardens and English-style parks. We recommend a visit to the Château de Chenonceau, perched above the Loire thanks to a series of bridges that are as graceful as they are solid. The gardens of the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire and the 282 fireplaces of the Château de Chambord are also must-sees. If you like boats, you can even book a guided tour of the châteaux of the Loire on water.

Chenonceau castle is one of the most famous in the Pays de la Loire region

- © Viacheslav Lopatin / Shutterstock

The Loire region, crossed by the largest river in France

Although its name is a little misleading - the Loire only flows through two of the region's five départements - it is no less enchanting. The Loire is in fact the country's largest river. Crossing France from west to south, it offers a range of activities to suit all types of trip and traveller. From luxury cruises near the châteaux of the Loire, to sporting escapades in a kayak through the winding landscapes of the Loire region, or even cycle trails, there's something for everyone. As is often the case, the towns and villages built around the waterways are the oldest and most historic in the region. Saumur, with its medieval castle and cobbled streets, takes you back to time immemorial, while Charité-sur-Loire is a must for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

View from the Loire River over the village of Saumur and its château

- © Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock

Seaside resorts on the Golf of Gascony

Almost as popular as the seaside resorts of the Mediterranean, the Pays de la Loire attracts crowds of swimsuit-clad tourists in summer. On the wide beaches typical of northern France, seagulls cradle tourists as they venture into the cool waters of the Atlantic. Along this coastline, which juts out into one of the most romantic golf courses in the world, small restaurants offer a taste of the local catch, washed down with the region's white wine. La Baule, Les Sables d'Olonnes and Pornic are real little paradises when spring arrives. Travellers with children will find these places particularly comfortable for family holidays.

The hidden treasures of Pays de la Loire: Sarthe, Mayenne and Maine et Loire

The other départements in this region are quieter and less busy, and well worth a visit. Even if there's no sea to be seen, there's no shortage of points of interest. More cultural and natural, the activities are, it's true, perhaps more aimed at an adult audience. Sarthe, Mayenne and Maine et Loire are ideal for lovers of beautiful gardens (Parc oriental de Maulévrier, Jardin des Renaudies, the gardens of Château de la Rongère and Château du Lude) and medieval and Renaissance architecture, with their many châteaux and medieval towns (Sablé-sur-Sarthe, Château de Bazouges, Château de Lucé, Sainte Suzanne, Château de Craon, Château d'Angers and Château de Saumur). If you're tired of the mainland, take a boat to the islands of Yeu or Noirmoutiers.

A mill in the Pays de la Loire region

- © Richard Semik / Shutterstock

A destination for children

As well as the region's châteaux and sporting activities, the Pays de la Loire is also synonymous with breathtaking theme parks. Among the best-known, Le Puy du Fou offers an immersive historical experience for young and old alike.

A show at the Puy du Fou theme park

- © Alexey Gorshenin / Shutterstock

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The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

To get to the Pays de la Loire region, you need to travel to the main towns in the region, such as Nantes, Angers or Le Mans. These cities can be reached by train or car from Paris or other major French cities.

Nantes-Atlantique airport also offers international flights, as well as connections to other French cities.

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Where to stay?

Whether you're looking for a small flat in the pedestrianised centre of Nantes or a charming gîte lost between the châteaux of the Pays de la Loire, the region offers a wide variety of accommodation for visitors. From luxury hotels to youth hostels, guest houses and campsites, there's something for everyone.

Practical information

When should you go to Pays de la Loire?

If you're planning a holiday in the Pays de la Loire region, you should be aware that the climate is oceanic and temperate, with mild winters and fairly hot summers. The most pleasant months for outdoor visits are June to September, with average temperatures hovering around 25°C. Although rainfall is spread throughout the year, the rainiest months are November to February.

Book your holidays in Pays de la Loire in advance

With 450 kilometres of coastline, the departments of Vendée and Loire Atlantique are the real stars of the region. Come summer, the seaside resorts and islands are packed with tourists. As with all popular tourist destinations, it's difficult to find accommodation during the summer months. To make the most of the seaside and its magnificent scenery, we strongly advise you to book your accommodation several months in advance, whether in a hotel, gîte, chambre d'hôte, rental or campsite. The crowds in these areas also mean that there are a few problems when it comes to getting around by car and finding a place to park around the sites and beaches. In July and August, to make the most of the beach, it's best to go mid-morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.

Getting around the Loire châteaux region

The Pays de la Loire region has a well-developed transport network to enable tourists, who come in large numbers, to move easily between the various attractions. Public transport, including trains, buses and trams, is widely available and offers an environmentally responsible and convenient way to get around. Major cities such as Nantes, Angers and Le Mans also have bicycle hire services, or even electric scooters for the more modern. For those who prefer more independence, there are car hire agencies available throughout the region. For longer journeys, there are a number of bus and train companies serving the various towns and attractions in the region, and if you want to visit the châteaux at your leisure. If you want to visit the châteaux at your leisure, we still recommend that you hire a car so that you can explore the region as you wish, rather than following the 'tourist route'.

Don't miss the Loire's culinary specialities

The other facet of this region, as is often the case in France, is its gastronomy, which benefits from a rich terroir. Guérande and Noirmoutier are great places to stock up on fleur de sel and top-quality salt. Vendée brioche, Muscadet, Port Salut cheese and the famous Noirmoutiers potato are all must-tries to take home with you after a stay in the region.

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

We recommend that you book a guided tour of the châteaux of the Loire. They offer a much more complete experience than a simple solo visit. I promise, it's worth it!

Useful links
Official website for tourism in Pays de la Loire

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