Loire Valley

Loire Valley

Overview
The Loire Valley spanning 280 kilometres (174 mi), is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River
Loire (river)
The Loire is the longest river in France. With a length of , it drains an area of , which represents more than a fifth of France's land area. It is the 170th longest river in the world...

 in central France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Its area comprises approximately 800 square kilometres (308.9 sq mi). It is referred to as the Cradle of the French Language, and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyard
Vineyard
A vineyard is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice...

s, fruit orchards, and artichoke
Artichoke
-Plants:* Globe artichoke, a partially edible perennial thistle originating in southern Europe around the Mediterranean* Jerusalem artichoke, a species of sunflower with an edible tuber...

, asparagus
Asparagus
Asparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennialplant species in the genus Asparagus. It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and...

, and cherry
Cherry
The cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus, and is a fleshy stone fruit. The cherry fruits of commerce are usually obtained from a limited number of species, including especially cultivars of the wild cherry, Prunus avium....

 fields which line the banks of the river. Notable for its historic towns, architecture and wines, the valley has been inhabited since the Middle Palaeolithic period.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Loire Valley'
Start a new discussion about 'Loire Valley'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
The Loire Valley spanning 280 kilometres (174 mi), is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River
Loire (river)
The Loire is the longest river in France. With a length of , it drains an area of , which represents more than a fifth of France's land area. It is the 170th longest river in the world...

 in central France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Its area comprises approximately 800 square kilometres (308.9 sq mi). It is referred to as the Cradle of the French Language, and the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyard
Vineyard
A vineyard is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice...

s, fruit orchards, and artichoke
Artichoke
-Plants:* Globe artichoke, a partially edible perennial thistle originating in southern Europe around the Mediterranean* Jerusalem artichoke, a species of sunflower with an edible tuber...

, asparagus
Asparagus
Asparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennialplant species in the genus Asparagus. It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and...

, and cherry
Cherry
The cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus, and is a fleshy stone fruit. The cherry fruits of commerce are usually obtained from a limited number of species, including especially cultivars of the wild cherry, Prunus avium....

 fields which line the banks of the river. Notable for its historic towns, architecture and wines, the valley has been inhabited since the Middle Palaeolithic period. In 2000, UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 added the central part of the Loire River valley to its list of World Heritage Sites.

Geography


The valley includes historic towns such as Amboise
Amboise
Amboise is a commune in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France. It lies on the banks of the Loire River, east of Tours. Today a small market town, it was once home of the French royal court...

, Angers
Angers
Angers is the main city in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France about south-west of Paris. Angers is located in the French region known by its pre-revolutionary, provincial name, Anjou, and its inhabitants are called Angevins....

, Blois
Blois
Blois is the capital of Loir-et-Cher department in central France, situated on the banks of the lower river Loire between Orléans and Tours.-History:...

, Chinon
Chinon
Chinon is a commune in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France well known for Château de Chinon.In the Middle Ages, Chinon developed especially during the reign of Henry II . The castle was rebuilt and extended, becoming one of his favorite residences...

, Nantes
Nantes
Nantes is a city in western France, located on the Loire River, from the Atlantic coast. The city is the 6th largest in France, while its metropolitan area ranks 8th with over 800,000 inhabitants....

, Orléans
Orléans
-Prehistory and Roman:Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire...

, Saumur
Saumur
Saumur is a commune in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France.The historic town is located between the Loire and Thouet rivers, and is surrounded by the vineyards of Saumur itself, Chinon, Bourgueil, Coteaux du Layon, etc...

, and Tours
Tours
Tours is a city in central France, the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department.It is located on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the...

.

The climate is mild most of the year, the river often acting as a line of demarcation in France's weather between the northern climate and the southern. The river has a significant effect on the mesoclimate of the region, adding a few degree
Degree (temperature)
The term degree is used in several scales of temperature. The symbol ° is usually used, followed by the initial letter of the unit, for example “°C” for degree Celsius...

s of temperature. The climate can be cool with spring time frost
Frost
Frost is the solid deposition of water vapor from saturated air. It is formed when solid surfaces are cooled to below the dew point of the adjacent air as well as below the freezing point of water. Frost crystals' size differ depending on time and water vapour available. Frost is also usually...

 while wine harvest
Harvest (wine)
The harvesting of wine grapes is one of the most crucial steps in the process of winemaking. The time of harvest is determined primarily by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels with winemakers basing their decision to pick based on the style of wine they wish to...

 months may have rain. Summers are hot; however influences from the Atlantic moderate the temperature with breezes.

Temperature, rainfall and average sunshine time in Angers (Anjou
Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

):
MonthJanFebMarchAprMayJuneJulyAugSeptOctNovDecYear
Average minimum temperature (°C) 2,1 2,2 3,9 5,6 8,9 11,8 13,6 13,4 11,3 8,4 4,6 2,8 7,4
Average temperature (°C) 5 5,7 8,2 10.4 13,9 16,2 19,2 19,1 16,5 12,7 8 5,6 11,8
Average maximum temperature (°C) 7,9 9,2 12,6 15,3 19 22,6 24,9 24,7 21,8 17 11,4 8,4 16,2
Average monthly rainfall (mm) 62,1 50,8 51,7 44,6 54,4 41,2 43,8 44,9 52,2 59,6 64,5 63,4 633,4
Monthly hours of sunshine (hour/month) 70 92 141 179 201 234 248 237 191 129 89 65 1877
Source : Climatology from 1947 to 2008 - Angers, France

Wine



The Loire Valley wine region
Loire Valley (wine)
The Loire Valley wine region includes the French wine regions situated along the Loire River from the Muscadet region near the city of Nantes on the Atlantic coast to the region of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé just southeast of the city of Orléans in north central France. In between are the regions of...

 includes the several French wine
French wine
French wine is produced in several regions throughout France, in quantities between 50 and 60 million hectolitres per year, or 7–8 billion bottles. France has the world's second-largest total vineyard area, behind Spain, and is in the position of being the world's largest wine producer...

 regions situated along the river from the Muscadet
Muscadet
Muscadet is a white French wine. It is made at the western end of the Loire Valley, near the city of Nantes in the Pays de la Loire region neighboring the Brittany Region. More Muscadet is produced than any other Loire wine. It is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, often referred to simply as...

 region on the Atlantic coast to the regions of Sancerre
Sancerre (wine)
Sancerre is a French wine Appellation d'origine contrôlée for wine produced in the environs of Sancerre in the eastern part of the Loire valley, southeast of Orléans. Almost all of the appellation lies on the left bank of the Loire, opposite Pouilly-Fumé. It is well regarded for and primarily...

 and Pouilly-Fumé
Pouilly-Fumé
Pouilly-Fumé is an Appellation d'origine contrôlée for dry white wine from the Loire Valley wine-producing region of France. Pouilly-Fumé is made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. It is characterized by smoky flavors and minerality. The vineyards are located in the communes...

 just southeast of the city of Orléans
Orléans
-Prehistory and Roman:Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire...

 in north central France. Loire wines tend to exhibit a characteristic fruitiness with fresh, crisp flavors.

Culture


On December 2, 2000, UNESCO added the central part of the river valley, between Maine
Maine River
La Maine is a river , a tributary of the Loire, 12 km long, in the Maine-et-Loire département in France....

 and Sully-sur-Loire
Sully-sur-Loire
Sully-sur-Loire is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.-Castle:The château of Sully-sur-Loire dates from the end of the 14th century and is a prime example of medieval fortress. It was built at a strategic crossing of the Loire river...

, to its list of World Heritage Sites. In choosing this area that includes the French départements of Loiret
Loiret
Loiret is a department in north-central FranceThe department is named after the river Loiret, a tributary of the Loire. The Loiret is located wholly within the department.- History :...

, Loir-et-Cher
Loir-et-Cher
Loir-et-Cher is a département in north-central France named after the rivers Loir and Cher.-History:Loir-et-Cher is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Orléanais and...

, Indre-et-Loire
Indre-et-Loire
Indre-et-Loire is a department in west-central France named after the Indre and the Loire rivers.-History:Indre-et-Loire is one of the original 83 départements created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790...

, and Maine-et-Loire
Maine-et-Loire
Maine-et-Loire is a department in west-central France, in the Pays de la Loire region.- History :Maine-et-Loire is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. Originally it was called Mayenne-et-Loire, but its name was changed to Maine-et-Loire in 1791....

, the committee said that the Loire Valley is: "an exceptional cultural landscape, of great beauty, historic cities and villages, great architectural monuments - the Châteaux - and lands that have been cultivated and shaped by centuries of interaction between local populations and their physical environment, in particular the Loire itself."

The Loire Valley chansonniers
Loire Valley chansonniers
The Loire Valley chansonniers are a related group of songbooks copied in the Loire Valley region of central France c. 1465-c. 1475 and produced in the context of the French royal court. They consist of five chansonniers: Copenhagen, Dijon, Nivelle, Laborde and Wolfenbüttel...

 are a related group of songbooks
Chansonnier
A chansonnier is a manuscript or printed book which contains a collection of chansons, or polyphonic and monophonic settings of songs, hence literally "song-books," although some manuscripts are so called even though they preserve the text but not the music A chansonnier is a manuscript or...

 attributed to the composers of the Loire Valley and are the earliest surviving examples of a new genre which offered a combination of words, music, and illuminations.

Architecture


The architectural heritage in the valley's historic towns is notable, especially its château
Château
A château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions...

x, such as the Château d'Amboise
Château d'Amboise
The royal Château at Amboise is a château located in Amboise, in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France.-Origins and royal residence:...

, Château de Chambord
Château de Chambord
The royal Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinct French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures.The building, which was never...

, Château de Chinon, Château du Rivau
Château du Rivau
Le Rivau is a castle-palace in Lémeré , in the Touraine region, France. In Rabelais' Gargantua, it was given to captain Tolmere as a reward for his victories in the Picrocholean Wars....

, Château d'Ussé
Château d'Ussé
The Château d'Ussé is located in the commune of Rigny-Ussé in the Indre-et-Loire département, in France. The stronghold at the edge of the Chinon forest overlooking the Indre Valley was first fortified in the eleventh century by the Norman seigneur of Ussé, Gueldin de Saumur, who surrounded the...

, Château de Villandry
Château de Villandry
The Château de Villandry is a castle-palace located in Villandry, in the département of Indre-et-Loire, France.The lands where an ancient fortress once stood were known as Colombier until the 17th century...

 and Chenonceau
Château de Chenonceau
The Château de Chenonceau is a manor house near the small village of Chenonceaux, in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. It was built on the site of an old mill on the River Cher, sometime before its first mention in writing in the 11th century...

. The châteaux, numbering more than three hundred, represent a nation of builders starting with the necessary castle
Castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

 fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s in the 10th century to the splendor of those built half a millennium later. When the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux here, the nobility, not wanting or even daring to be far from the seat of power, followed suit. Their presence in the lush, fertile valley began attracting the very best landscape designers. In addition to its many château
Château
A château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions...

x, the cultural monuments illustrate to an exceptional degree the ideals of the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and the Age of the Enlightenment on western European thought and design.

External links