Discovering the art of living in Pays de la Loire is a treat for all five senses.
You are invited to look at the broad sweep of the landscape, the many monuments and the fertile vineyards which characterise the region.
Why not listen and be charmed by the soft murmuring of the streams and rivers, the ebb and flow of the tides, the sweet sound of birdsong in the gardens and woods and the rhythm of the church bells, not to mention the songs and concerts which are typical of the region.
Run your hand lightly over the old stones and plants and feel your sense of touch develop and grow.
Savour the scents of nature and its numerous gardens, on the one hand, and the aromas of quality foodstuffs, on the other.
And, last but not least, taste the fruity, sweet, dry or sparkling white, red or rosé wines, the mead, the fish from the Atlantic and the rillettes. All of these are a feast for the tastebuds.
In this region, the art of living and a sense of closeness to home are closely linked to cultural heritage and garden design. Allow yourself to be surprised and delighted by this heavenly region in the “garden of France”, where the art of living and nature meet.
You will discover French and English gardens, fountains, fruit and vegetable gardens and orangeries. The parks and gardens are not only testimony to the long-standing art of garden design, but also a quintessential part of the region’s identity. Classical parks and gardens which remain linked to the old traditions of still-inhabited castles thus await you in all their splendour. Local products are also available in each garden, so enjoyment is guaranteed.
The richness of the western Loire valley comes from its historical heritage, natural landscape, food and drink, rivers and streams and the nearby coast. With the gardens and parks as a starting point, a trip around the area offers an opportunity to discover and enjoy the art of living of the region at will.
The journey begins in Loire-Atlantique at the Château de Goulaine and the vineyards of Nantes. In La Vendée, you will visit La Chabotterie, a castle dating from the end of the 18th century, and “on the oyster route” you can learn about the secrets of oyster-growing. A welcome break can be had both at the royal abbey of Fontevraud in Anjou and at the numerous wine-makers such as Bouvet-Ladubay in the wine-growing region around Saumur. You can then sample gastronomic specialities of the Sarthe département at Bahier butchers, near Le Mans. The Château de Craon too invites you to enjoy famous specialities such as cider or pommeau. Finally, you return to the Atlantic coast and discover enchanting Breton traditions on the Guérande peninsula.
“Gastronomy and the art of living in the gardens of the western Loire valley” is a theme which relates both to culinary experience and to the five senses. It has been chosen by the regional committee for tourism in the Pays de La Loire in order to express the diversity of the region’s identity. Cultural heritage and landscape, architecture, antique furniture, regional products and not least garden design and garden culture combine here to form the core of a unique tradition and way of living.
The region’s diverse physical characteristics encompass a dense network of rivers, 450 km of coastline, and numerous small fields bordered by hedges. The chateaux of the landed nobility are prominent features of the various parts of the region, which has a rich and varied cultural history. Agriculture dominates the regional economy, but industry, fishing and shipbuilding also play a role.
Pays de La Loire is the fifth most populous region in France (3,222,000 inhabitants), the fourth biggest industrial region and the second biggest in terms of agriculture. The region combines large metropolitan areas with extensive stretches of rural land, and economic centres with remarkable natural habitats. Every third inhabitant in the Loire region lives in a rural area as against every fourth inhabitant in the rest of France. Three out of ten inhabitants are under 25 years old while every fifth person is over sixty. The proportion of those over sixty is higher at the Vendée coastline, in the north of the Mayenne départementand in the east of the Sarthe département.
Pays de La Loire covers an area of 32,100 m2. Its population density is close to the national average (100 inhabitants per km2 as against 108 inhabitants per km2 at national level).
Water is an important element in the region, which has 450 km of coastline stretching from the mouth of the Vilaine river in the north to the bay of l’Aiguillon, and over 18,000 km of rivers and streams.
Even though there are some deep river valleys, the region has few hills. The highest point is Avaloirs mountain in the north-east of the Mayenne département, at a height of 417 metres.
The Loire valley is the main axis of development and also the location of the largest metropolitan areas (Nantes, Angers and Saint-Nazaire).
Pays de La Loire is characterised by a balance between traditional activities (wood, fashion, shipbuilding), an increasingly important high-tech sector and a growing services sector. The food sector is one of the mainstays of the regional and national economies.
The parks and gardens in all their variety are one of the great attractions of this part of France, whether their emphasis be on landscape features or on botanical, aesthetic or historical elements. Every green treasure possesses an individual charm of its own which can be enjoyed at will – whether it is a case of English reverie or French elegance, Italian atmospheres or oriental meditation, green mazes or fantastically-shaped arbours, the constant alternation of scents or symphonies of white water-lilies, shaped yew-trees and arrangements of boxwood or sweetly scented rose gardens. The quality of culture in the parks and gardens in the Pays de La Loire is such that the visitor can look forward to a range of stimulating and colourful walks filled with fragrant scents.
Every green treasure possesses an individual charm of its own which the visitor can absorb at will – whether it is a case of English reverie or French elegance, Italian atmospheres or oriental meditation, green mazes or fantastically-shaped arbours, the constant alternation of scents or symphonies of white water-lilies, shaped yew-trees and arrangements of boxwood or sweetly scented rose gardens.
The parks and gardens in Pays de la Loire were chosen because of their beauty and their inviting appeal. They form a quality network for walks which offer visitors a range of stimulating impressions, colourful images and fragrant scents.