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Pays de la Loire

Pays de la Loire

Located in the middle of the west of France, Pays de la Loire enjoys a lovely year round climate. It has hot summers and pleasantly mild temperatures in other seasons owing to the proximity of the Atlantic. The Vendee department is the hottest and driest area in the region.

The regional capital is the city of Nantes where you will find a wealth of cultural and historical features such as the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne. Castles can also be found in some of the region’s other towns including Angers, Laval and Mayenne.

Pays de la Loire is a region of amazing natural variety ranging from salt flats to beautiful beaches and forested areas. There region has two natural parks in the form of the Briere and the Marsh of Poitou.

The region is easily accessible from the UK via the Brittany ports from where it is only a short drive of about an hour. The road network throughout the region is very good with several dual carriageways linking the major towns within the region and the A83 and A11 motorways providing links to Bordeaux and Paris respectively.

There is also an extensive rail network which links the main towns and also caters for those wishing to travel further afield. The airport at Nantes Atlantique is the largest in the region with flights to a number of European cities while the smaller airport at Angers offers flights to Southampton.

Probably the most outstanding feature of Pays de La Loire for visitors is its amazing assortment of coastal resorts. Beginning in the north of the region you will find authentic fishing villages like the charming Piriac sur Mer where you can enjoy a lovely lunch of moules-frites down by the harbour wall.

Further along the Loire-Atlantique coast you come to the delightful resort of Le Croisic which is also an important fishing port. Here you can sit and watch the catch being brought in and also be impressed by the wild nature of the water here which appears to be almost boiling because of the strong currents!

The largest resort on this part of the coast is La Baule, a traditional seaside resort of luxury boutiques, lively restaurants and 9kms of sandy beach, the longest in Europe. Round to the south lies the more family-orientated Pornichet.

On the northern edge of the Vendee is the beautiful harbour town of Pornic with its historic centre. Here the discerning visitor will be spoilt for choice as regards the numerous cultural events held there and its wealth of smart cafes.

Popular with UK holiday-makers, particularly those looking for top class camp-sites, are the resorts of the Vendee. Les Sables d’Olonne is famous as a yachting centre and the departure point of the Vendee Globe round the world sailing race. Moored alongside the marina over 1000 boats can be seen. The area also provides visitors with fine sandy beaches, pine forest, golf clubs and a casino.

To the south of the Vendee is Saint-Jean-de-Monts, an ideal resort for families which offers activities such as fishing, cycling and golf. It is also the centre for the less well known sport of sand-yachting which makes use of the constant breeze.

If you enjoy cultural events and festivals, Pays de la Loire will definitely appeal to you. Guerande holds a traditional medieval fair in June. As part of this event around 500 participants provide street entrainment dressed in period costume.

Also in June in the town of Angers you will get the chance to witness France’s second largest open-air theatre event – the Anjou Festival. Throughout the summer months you can enjoy Le Puy de Fou at Epesses in the Vendee which has a cast of 1200 players.

In addition to being an interesting old town in its own right, Le Mans is the venue for the famous 24 Hour Race held in June. This year is the celebration of the event’s 90th anniversary.

The food and wine of Pays de La Loire have much to offer the visitor. The region’s vineyards produce a wide variety of high quality wines. The Val de Loire Vineyards Tourist Trail offers 40,000 hectares of wine tasting with over 160 wine ‘stops’ en route. Amongst its well-known labels are Anjou Villages, Muscadet and Saumur Brut.

The region has a number of culinary specialities. Beurre blanc is a butter sauce made with white wine. Local meat dishes include muscadet flavoured sausage and rillauds d’Anjou. There are a number of great cheeses to try including Port-Salut and Cure Nantais. From Angers comes a delicious plum paste and from the Nantes valley fresh vegetables, notably watercress.

Coastal areas are naturally a paradise for lovers of fish and sea food of all kinds. You can indulge in plates of shellfish in harbour-side restaurants or anchovies and sardines from the seas around La Turballe. To season this food the region produces some of the purest sea salt. Known as Fleur de Sel, it comes from the salt marshes of the Guerande and Noirmoutier. You can learn about the traditional manufacturing process by visiting the ‘Terre de Sel’ museum.

Whatever you may be looking for in a holiday destination you will certainly find it in Pays de la Loire. The region offers a range of cultural and sporting activities to suit all tastes and ages – or just simply the attractions of its wonderful coastal areas.

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