Pays de la Loire is located in western France and has a diverse low-lying landscape, residing largely in the Massif Armoricain. The rugged and wild Atlantic coast in the west contrasts with the green lush countryside and rivers of the Loire Valley in the centre.
Along with the large urban conurbation and economic centres, there are vast rural areas, mainly devoted to agriculture. The climate is a lovely mild winter and warm summer. The department of Loire Atlantique has 85 miles of rocky sandy coastline including 17 miles of coast which is dotted with resorts known as the Cote de Jade, because of the green colour of the sea.
Besides the many scenic, rural areas and the vineyards producing the dry Muscadet wine, the region is mainly known for the Nantes/St Nazaire area, a major ship building and industrial complex.
With over 125 miles of sandy beaches and two offshore islands, Noirmoutier and Yeu, Vendee is a very popular tourist destination. It’s a cultural and ‘green’ tourism predominant inland. The beautiful coast is lined with woods, including the Foret d’Olonne. North and south bordering the department are extensive salt marshes, which are extremely popular for bird watching.
Vendee’s architectural heritage is displayed in its impressive abbeys, chateaux and churches. The premier industry of the department is now tourism.
Maine et Loire, locally known as the Val d’Anjou was mainly formed from the historic province of Anjou. The department is also known as the ‘valley of kings’ due to its royal past. The legacy of chateaux, abbeys and manor houses and churches attract around 2.3 million tourists each year.
The landscape is dominated by the Loire Valley and its tributaries, nine being navigable. Surrounding the river is a broad, fertile plain which is covered with lush green vegetation, orchards, market gardens and vineyards. Wines including Rose d’Anjou and Saumur are available in both sparkling and still varieties and worth a try.
There are the amazing Troglodyte caves with 1000km of underground tunnels. Quite a few have been converted into art galleries, mushrooms farms and wine cellars. The large forested areas which run the length of the valley is the equivalent to the British National Trust.
The most visited towns are the city of Angers with its fortress of King Rene and Saumur which is home to the Cadre Noir Horse Riding Academy and the Romanesque Notre-Dame-de- Nantilly, displaying notable 15th-17th century tapestries. Another popular place is the 12th century Fontevrault-l’Abbaye near Saumur, with its statues and graves of Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and their son Richard I (the lion heart)
The department of Sarthe has a rich agricultural heritage with numerous chateaux at Verdelles, montmirail, le ludes, and Bazouges-sur-le-Loir. It consists mainly of fields and woodland sculpted by the Sarthe river.
The Mayenne department is wooded and hilly with around 55 miles of navigable river. Mayenne is not really popular with tourists but does have some interesting prehistoric caves, abbeys and chateaux. The cattle market at Chateau Gontier is highly rated in France.
Pays de la Loire is the fifth most populated region in France, however the population density is close to the national average. Property prices are slightly lower than France’s average but have been rising steadily, especially in the coastal areas and the Loire Valley, a great place to invest in property. The high-speed TGV link between Paris and Nantes has helped benefit the local economy, tourism and property market.
Pays de la Loire boasts an impressive and diverse economic portfolio with many small and medium sized businesses. It is now the fifth wealthiest region in France and unemployment is consistently lower than the national average.
The region is second largest in France for both livestock breeding and agriculture and fifth largest for fishing. The Nantes/Saint Nazaire port complex is the leading centre for ship building. Tourism plays a major part in the local economy providing many jobs in the summer seasons.
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