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Last updated : Nov 2009
Western Loire
Western Loire - TravelPuppy.com
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.

Le Mans, 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 museum.

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.