Pays de la Loire

Photo © Beausoleil

Travel Guide Europe France Pays de la Loire

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Introduction

Pays de la Loire is one of 13 administrative régions of France. Its capital is the city of Nantes. This region was created only in the late 20th century, in an attempt to create a "balanced metropolis" (métropole d'équilibre) for Nantes. It was formed from a patchwork of different historical and geographical provinces of Brittany, Anjou, Poitou and Maine. Due to the lack of a historical common ground between the newly assigned départements - Loire-Atlantique (44), Maine-et-Loire (49), Mayenne (53), Sarthe (72) and Vendée (85) - the government chose the name Pays de la Loire, which means "lands of the (River) Loire" based on geographical references; that is, the River Loire that flows across the region.

This does cause confusion to foreigners/visitors, who are aware of the famous châteaux of the Loire Valley. The impression they are under is these castles are located within this region but in fact, they are found in the adjacent region of Centre. Nonetheless there are still many great monuments and sights to be found in Pays de la Loire, including Château des Ducs de Bretagne, Château d'Angers, Abbaye de Fontevraud and Parc Naturel Régional de la Grand Brière.

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Geography

Pays de la Loire is situated in the north-west of France. The Atlantic lies to its west, with the bordering regions of Brittany to its north and west, Normandy to the north, Centre to the east and Nouvelle-Aquitaine to the south. Pays de la Loire is also cut from east to west by the River Loire.

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Cities

The main cities or towns of the region for each department are:

Loire-AtlantiqueNantes, Saint-Nazaire, Châteaubriant
Maine-et-LoireAngers, Saumur, Cholet
MayenneLaval, Château-Gontier, Fougerolles-du-Plessis
SartheLe Mans, La Flèche, Luché-Pringé
VendéeLa Roche-sur-Yon, Fontenay-Le-Comte, Les Sables d'Olonnes

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Getting There

By Plane

Nantes Atlantique is main airport in the region and has good transport links from the centre of Nantes and is 10 minutes off of the ring road. If has flights to the Caribbean, Africa, North America and of course, other European airports.

By Train

Le Mans is in the western branch of the LGV Atlantique line from Paris Montparnasse (commonly known as the TGV service). Standard mainline track then runs onward to Angers and Nantes. The city also has rail connections to Caen to the N and to Tours to the S, to Rennes (via Laval) to the W and to Chartres to the E.

Nantes has rail connections to the N to Rennes and S to La Rochelle as well as to Angers then Le Mans then Paris by TGV.

Angers additionally has rail connection to Le Mans to Tours and to Nantes.

Saumur has rail connections to Nantes as well as Tours and Angers then Paris by TGV.

By Car

From Paris, the A11 autoroute runs to Le Mans and onto Angers and Nantes. The A28 runs from Normandy from the north and Tours from the south to Le Mans. Also from Tours, the A85 links to Angers. From the south, the A83 comes from Niort and runs up through Vendée to Nantes. From Brittany, there are no autoroutes into the region, however, the N165, N137 and N157 run from Morbihan, Rennes (south and west) respectively.

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Getting Around

By Train

The region has a good rail network, with the majority of services operated by TER Pays de la Loire.

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Eat

  • La Ferme Restaurant - Very pleasant French restaurant serving fresh local cuisine. The website says "Open from Tuesday to Saturday evening" but it's sometimes open for lunch on Sunday. Nice terrace overlooking the Cathedral. Excellent food; excellent service and great desserts. Address: 2 Place Freppel, 49100 Angers, France, Phone: +33 (0)2 4187-0990, Hours: noon to 2:00pm and 7:00 to 10:00pm, Price: average

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Quick Facts

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Population
3,455,000 (2007)
Land area
32,082 km²
Regional Prefecture
Nantes

Contributors

as well as Beausoleil (9%)

Pays de la Loire Travel Helpers

  • Beausoleil

    Recently spent a month driving around the Pays de la Loire. We rented gites (holiday cottages) in three different places including one inside the Briere Regional Park. I have a 30-day blog on that trip here on TravellersPoint.

    Ask Beausoleil a question about Pays de la Loire

This is version 15. Last edited at 15:30 on Mar 5, 19 by Utrecht. 7 articles link to this page.

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