Download The Rough Guide to the Loire, 2nd Edition (Rough Guide Travel Guides) PDF

The Rough Guide to the Loire, 2nd Edition (Rough Guide Travel Guides)
Name: The Rough Guide to the Loire, 2nd Edition (Rough Guide Travel Guides)
Author: james mcconnachie
Pages: 398
Year: 2007
Language: English
File Size: 20.26 MB
Downloads: 0
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3 Contents Colour section 1 16 Introduction .............................04 Where to go .............................05 When to go ..............................09 Things not to miss ...................11 Basics 17 56 Getting there ............................19 Getting around .........................27 Accommodation.......................30 Food and drink .......................34 Festivals...................................38 Outdoor activities ....................41 Travelling with children.............45 Travel essentials ......................47 Guide 57 324 Touraine .......................59 136 Blois and the Sologne ......................137 180 The Orl anais .............181 218 The Haut Berry ...........219 240 The Saumurois ...........241 268 Central Anjou .............269 298 The northern approaches ................299 324 Contexts 325 362 History ...................................327 Writers of the Loire ................340 Books ....................................348 Wine ......................................352 Language 363 376 French....................................365 Glossary.................................375 Travel Store 377 386 Small print & Index 387 400 Vend me The River Loire The.River.Loire colour section following p.256 The.ch teau colour section following p.160 | CONTENTS | 00 Loire Col section.indd 33/13/07 5:17:12 PM


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4 Introduction to the loire When the River Loire reaches its halfway point in the very centre of France and turns west towards the Atlantic, locals say that it ceases to be a mere rivi re, it becomes a euve which is something altogether grander. In this proudest stretch, from the hills of Sancerre to the oodplains of Anjou, the Loire ows past an extraordinary parade of castles, palaces and ne mansions. In fact, there are so many of these ch teaux that when it came to choosing which should be awarded the title of World Heritage Site, UNESCO just bestowed the label on the entire valley. But behind the myriad ch teaux not to mention the abbeys, churches and cathe drals lies a modest region known for its douceur, or gentleness. This reputation is partly owed to the balanced climate, and partly to the landscape, which is kindly rather than dramatic. But the Loire's douceur also stems from something harder to de ne, an alluring air of nostalgia perhaps: from being the noblest waterway of France and the favourite home of the court, the river valley has literally become a backwater, as trade has taken to the roads and railways. This is a slow moving, provincial corner of France, much further removed from Paris's energies and fashions than would seem likely, given how close it is to the capital. The main regional cities may be vigorous and dynamic, but contemporary life elsewhere seems subtly undermined by the relative grandeur of the past. The Loire is, after all, the most palpably historic of French regions. It lay at the heart of the great but short lived Plantagenet empire, and the endless battles of the Hundred Years War between England and France were largely fought here. Warfare left its mark in the shape of powerful fortresses and proudly turreted mansions, as well as abiding memories of resonant gures such as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Joan of Arc. Later generations grew more re ned. It was in the Loire Valley that the great Renaissance monarchs re created the vibrant | INTRODUCTION | WHERE TO GO | WHEN TO GO 00 Loire Col section.indd 43/13/07 5:17:14 PM


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5 | INTRODUCTION | WHERE TO GO | WHEN TO GO civilization they had discovered in italy. at the beginning of the sixteenth century, Fran ois i even brought leonardo da Vinci, in person, to his minia ture court at amboise. When the court abandoned the loire for Paris, in the mid sixteenth century, the region slipped back into provincial obscurity. if there"s no single word for the loire region", it"s because there"s no such thing. Historically, the area is divided into separate regions, though these were replaced after the revolution by administrative d partements named after local rivers. touraine became indre et loire, anjou changed to maine et loire and the Orl anais was saddled with the name of a tiny backwater, the loiret. Yet local people never accepted the new names, and in recent years tourist boards have revived the old ones. as for the region as a whole, the nearest you can get in French is Val de loire", meaning the classic royal stretch of the loire Valley, or the made up adjective ligerien, from ligeris, the latin name for the loire. Where to go T he loire isn"t all ch teaux. the riverbanks make idyllic spots to picnic with supplies of local cheese, fruit and wine, and there are some superb restaurants in which it"s easy to while away a surprising number of hours. more active visitors can rent canoes and kayaks, follow the well marked footpaths that run throughout the region, and ride the dedicated Loire V lo cycle network, which mirrors the course of the river for almost its entire length; even where there"s no o cial route, Place Plumereau, Tours 00 Loire Col section.indd 53/13/07 5:17:18 PM


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8 | INTRODUCTION | WHERE TO GO | WHEN TO GO its distinctive cathedral, though none is as impressive as the three found in outlying regions: the hybrid roman esque Gothic cathedral of Le Mans, the perfectly harmonious structure of Chartres and the epic scale of Bourges. touring the loire without visiting any ch teaux would be rather eccen tric, and yet the sheer number of them can make choosing bewildering. trying to pack in the maximum can quickly blunt your sensibilities, and you"ll get most out of your stay by alternating ch teau tours with visits to vineyards and gardens, enjoying long picnics and restaurant meals, and exploring the towns and the countryside on foot. the most famous ch teaux usually justify the crowds they draw, but it"s often wise to time your visit for lunch time, or rst and last thing. the headline attractions at less well known sites may not be as compelling, but it"s well worth visiting at least one minor ch teau, as you"ll often have the place deliciously to yourself. among the a list ch teaux, Azay le Rideau and Chenonceau both belong exclusively to the renaissance period, and their settings, in the middle of moat and river respectively, are very beautiful, rivalled only by the wonderful renaissance gardens of Villandry. Blois, with its four wings The heartland region of Touraine, long known as the garden of France", has the best wines, the most delicious goat's cheese, the most regal history and, it's argued, the purest French accent in the land Ch teau.de.Chambord,.near.Blois 00 Loire Col section.indd 83/13/07 5:17:30 PM


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