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Added by Kenji on 4 Nov 2014 06:39
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The Loire River and Chateaux

This a river I know a bit, certainly between Saumur and Amboise, and am fond of: I went to university for a term at Angers nearby, and have returned a few times since. That is the area of the river famed for its impressive chateaux. The Loire is also known for its wines: as a student I enjoyed choosing that subject as a project! My favourites were Pouilly Fumé dry white, Quarts de Chaume sweet white for desserts, Saumur Champigny red wine, oh and sparkling Saumur is better value than Champagne.


The Loire is the longest river in France. With a length of 1,012 kilometres (629 mi), it drains an area of 117,054 km2 (45,195 sq mi), or more than a fifth of France's land area, and is the 170th longest river in the world.

It rises in the highlands of the southeastern quarter of the Massif Central in the Cévennes range (in the département of Ardèche) at 1,350 m (4,430 ft) near Mont Gerbier de Jonc; it flows northward for over 1,000 km (620 mi) through Nevers to Orléans, then west through Tours and Nantes until it reaches the Bay of Biscay (Atlantic Ocean) at St Nazaire. Its main tributaries include the Nièvre, Maine and the Erdre rivers on its right bank, and the Allier, Cher, Indre, Vienne, and the Sèvre Nantaise rivers to the left bank.

The Loire gives its name to six départements: Loire, Haute-Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Indre-et-Loire, Maine-et-Loire, and Saône-et-Loire. The central part of the Loire Valley was added to the World Heritage Sites list of UNESCO on December 2, 2000. The banks are characterized by vineyards and chateaux in the Loire Valley.

The human history of the Loire River valley begins with the Middle Palaeolithic period of 90–40 kya (thousand years ago), followed by modern humans (about 30 kya), succeeded by the Neolithic period (6,000 to 4,500 BC), all of the recent Stone Age in Europe. Then came the Gauls, the historical tribes in the Loire during the Iron Age period 1500 to 500 BC; they made the Loire a major riverine trading route by 600 BC, establishing trade with the Greeks on the Mediterranean coast. Gallic rule ended in the valley in 56 BC when Julius Caesar conquered the adjacent provinces for Rome. Christianity made entry into this valley from 3rd century AD with many saints converting the pagans. This was also the time when wineries came to be established in the valley.

The Loire Valley has been called the "Garden of France" and is studded with over a thousand chateaux, each with distinct architectural embellishments covering a wide range of variations, from the early medieval to the late Renaissance periods. They were originally created as feudal strongholds, over centuries past, in the strategic divide between southern and northern France; now many are privately owned.


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