| The region of the Western
Loire comprises the départements of Loire-Atlantique,
Mayenne, Maine et Loire, Sarthe and the Vendée.
The Vendée and the Loire-Atlantique
share a beautiful and wild coastline with Brittany.
There are 305km (190 miles) of beautiful sandy beaches. Inland,
the mild climate makes for beautiful mature pastures, often made
more attractive by clumps of wild camelias and roses.
In the Western Loire, La Baule, a summer resort
with a fine, seemingly endless beach, is a pleasant town with winding
streets and giant pines, excellent hotels, a casino and restaurants.
It has an unusually mild microclimate.
famous for its racetrack, is an historic old town built on a hill
overlooking the west bank of the Sarthe. The 12th-century
choir in the Cathedral of Saint-Julian is one of
the most remarkable in France. The magnificent 13th and 14th century
stained glass is also impressive. Most of the Sarthe Valley
consists of beautifully wooded hills, divided by the thick hedges
that are seasonally draped with wild roses, honeysuckle, or large
juicy blackberries. In May or early June, the apple and pear blossoms
blend with the hawthorn, the orchards are in bloom and the fields
and forests are rich and green. These two months are most attractive
and the weather at that time is usually favourable, the autumn is
less dry but usually remains pleasant through until October.
Nantes, on the coast of the Loire-Atlantique,
is a thriving commercial and industrial centre. There is a medieval
castle, which also houses the Musée d’Art Populaire,
a display of Breton costumes, a 15th-century cathedral, and a naval
St-Nazaire, along the coast from
Nantes, boasts the Escal Atlantic,
a replica of an ocean liner containing interactive exhibits evoking
the golden age of ocean travel. Upstream from Nantes,
the town of Angers contains some spectacular tapestries.
In the castle can be seen St John’s Vision of the
Apocalypse (14th century) and in the Hôpital
St-Jean, Jean Lurcat’s Chant du Monde
(20th century). The Hôpital itself is very beautiful and there
are several museums and art galleries in the town well worth a visit,
as well as the magnificent castle/fortress and the cathedral.
The regional cuisine has the advantages of excellent vineyards,
an abundance and variety of fish from the Loire, plentiful butter
and cheese, fruits and vegetables and easily available game from
the forests. In general, the wines of the Loire all have a clean
refreshing taste and that makes them ideal for light lunches or
as an apéritif.