Pays de la Loire
The Pays de la Loire Region has a sweeping variety of scenery and activities ranging from beach to forest, ocean to river and hiking to the Le Mans race. Located on the western edge of France, it is comprised of four departments, the Loire Atlantique, Maine et Loire, Vendée, Sarthe and the Mayenne.
On the Atlantic coastal edge of the region is the Loire Atlantique department. The walled medieval city of Guérande is a wonderful place to vacation. Book early for a hotel as those within the walls book several months ahead. While here be sure to visit the salt marshes where you can tour and learn about the harvesting of the wonderful gray salt found here.
Not far from Guérande is the beautiful resort town of La Baule. Whether you want to spend your day in the chic boutiques or exploring part of the 5.6 miles of beautiful beach which is sometimes claimed to be the largest in Europe, you are sure to enjoy yourself. The Grand Prix de la Baule was a motor racing event in the 1930s but today it is a prestigious equestrian show jumping competition. La Baule has a TGV connection from the Paris Montparnasse station so you can arrive here in about 3 hours if you take the non-stop journey.
Completing the coastal edge of the Pays de la Loire is the department of the Vendee. There are over 120 miles of primarily sandy beaches to enjoy, thousands of marked foot paths for hiking and 56 miles of sign-posted bicycle routes. In addition, approximately 125 miles of cycle paths link the beach resorts in this area.
The Maine et Loire Department (historically called the Anjou) is at the confluence of the Maine and Loire Rivers. Explore the Troglodyte Caves, mushroom farms, vineyards; spend the day playing at Puy de Fou where you conclude with their grand spectacle show in the evening; or explore the many châteaux. The Anjou Department as something for everyone!
Early morning view of the vineyards and the Château de Saumur
The Sarthe Department is the northern-most department of the Pay de la Loire. More than half of its population lives in the city of Le Mans where the world’s oldest sports car race (24 Heures du Mans, 24 Hours in Le Mans) has been held here annually since1923. The Sarthe is definitely the place to escape to the out-of-doors. There are 3107 miles of marked trails and 2485 miles of rivers and streams to explore.
We conclude our exploration of the Pays de la Loire Region with the Mayenne Department. Here you can explore the Mayenne Castle which is one of the best preserved secular buildings from medieval times in Europe. Step further back in time with a visit to the Gallo-Roman site of Noviodunum in Jublains. A Roman theatre, forum, temple and baths dating from as early as the first century can be seen. If you are planning a visit to the Grottes de Saulges (Saulges Caves), be sure to book a reservation. These unique prehistoric caves represent 400 000 years of history.