Everything You Didn’t Know About the Loire Valley: A 2 Minute Guide to the Garden
|November 2, 2013||Posted by under Places|
The Loire Valley spans about 200 miles in the middle of the Loire River, nestled in the middle of France. It is known as the Cradle of the French Language, but its abundance of fruit orchards (particularly cherries), asparagus and artichoke fields, and vineyards have earned it the sobriquet “The Garden of France.” Also known for its historic architecture and towns, and for the fact that people have lived in this valley since the Paleolithic Period, the Loire Valley was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2000.
Intrigued? If you are interested in heading to the Loire Valley, you have such historic towns as Tours, Saumur, Orleans, Chinon, Blois, Angers and Amboise waiting for you (in which case you should book accommodation as soon as possible and see properties here). The climate is temperate throughout most of the year, as the river makes a buffer zone between the colder temperatures to the north and the warmer climes to the south. If you’re there for the wine harvest, sometimes you face some rainy afternoons; if you come in the spring, you often wake up to frost on the window.
If you are interested in French architecture, it is the chateaux of the Loire Valley that will entice you. Over 300 of them dot the valley, and they still show the growth of a national architecture that began when castle fortifications became a necessity in the 900s and reached its full fruition in the 1400s and 1500s when architects had the tools and technology to build works of splendor and beauty for the French kings and the nobility. Surrounding each chateau is a wonderful labyrinth of landscaping, as France’s wealthiest wanted beauty both indoors and out.
Is wine your primary interest in visiting the Loire? Start with the Muscadet region, close by the city of Nantes on the western coast, and make your way to Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre, near the city of Orleans in the center of France. Along the way, you pass through the wine regions of Anjou, Bourgueil, Saumur, Chinon and Vouvray. The valley features a total of about 185,000 acres of vineyards. While the cool climate sometimes keeps grapes from fully ripening and generating the necessary sugars for balancing the grapes’ acidity, they also produce the light Sauvignon blanc vintages, with less fruit in the bouquet and less color. Cabernet wines from the Loire also feature a lighter color and less fruit in the bouquet unless they ripen fully. If they do, they feature an aroma of raspberries.
The natural splendor of the Loire Valley is a breathtaking backdrop for the architectural beauty of the region. Whether you are a dedicated oenophile, a student of architecture or just someone who appreciates beauty, the valley has enticements for every tourist.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Loire Valley, you can always head on over to the official tourism website of the Loire Valley.