Western Loire is a mixture of worlds, from the royal chateaux scattered throughout the fertile valleys to the sandy shores of the Loire-Atlantique. The town of Nantes, on the Loire River, is home to several spectacular churches and the classic fairytale castle, Chateaubriand. A birthplace of French folklore, Western Loire is also close to the Atlantic coast, where fish break the quiet surface of hidden bays and where the locals live their lives with bucolic ease and charm. With mild winters and temperate summers, a visit to this region is ideal at any time of the year.
Some of the region's top attractions include:
-Vendee: A coastal town tucked in the boughs of a dense forest, Vendee is a popular destination with both continental and international travelers. With a ribbon of beach lining the east and ancient magic scattered throughout the trees sprawling to the west, it's no wonder Vendee draws a crowd.
-The Loire Valley: Enchanting and idyllic, you can walk, cycle or drive through the Loire Valley to sample the region's delectable cuisine and sublime wines. Bring your camera as you'll encounter plenty of sights worth immortalizing.
-Le Saut aux Loups: A 15th century maze of underground corridors that bear the bulk of France's mushroom production, Le Saut aux Loups is one of the most unique corners of this storied nation.
-Abbey of Fontevraud: This medieval chateau offers a glimpse into one of the most colorful periods of French history, dating back to the days of the Plantagenet royals. Its landscaped gardens offer a respite from the cares of the workaday world, and the mystical tombs in the abbey itself are the subject of a great deal of fascinating historical debate.
-Futuroscope: If you've brought your family with you to Western Loire, a visit to the Futuroscope amusement park will provide a memorable experience. The park offers both educational and entertaining amusements for all ages.
If you're visiting in June, you'll be able to take in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race. Held annually in Le Mans, this is one of the most storied events in sports and makes for an unforgettable live experience.
Vacation rentals are widely available in the region, and options for all budget ranges are plentiful. Staying away from the hubbub of the region's hotels by renting your own apartment, chateau, or cabin will help make your vacation more relaxing and enjoyable.
If you're craving more French adventure, Western Loire is close to Paris. Head into the majestic city for a day trip, or continue your vacation in one of the world's most romantic cities.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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