heart of France
Paris to the Loire and Burgundy
area historically considered as the heart of
France is generally taken to stretch from the Paris area in the north,
the "Ile de France", to the Loire basin and Burgundy in the south. It
stretches from the Atlantic coast almost to the Swiss border
and includes four regions, Pays de la Loire, Centre, Ile de France
(Paris area) and Burgundy.
Paris region and the Loire valley, lying a hundred miles south-west,
are by far the most popular regions with American tourists, and
generally speaking with visitors from Japan, China and other distant
parts of the world. Paris,
less than three hours by train from London, or two hours from Brussels,
is also the most popular destination for British tourists.
Southwest of Paris lies Versailles,
easily accessible for an afternoon trip or a day trip. And beyond
Versailles, in the direction of the Loire, lies a region called the
Beauce, France's breadbasket, an area where vast wheat fields stretch
out towards the horizon . In the middle of the Beauce lies Chartres,
one of the most magnificent of France's great mediaeval cathedrals and
some of the finest mediaeval stained glass windows in the world.
A large choice of day trips from Paris
to the classic sights of central France, including Loire Chateaux (1 or 2-day trips),
Chartres, Versailles and Champagne are available and can be booked
online from Paris City vision .
The Loire - the longest river in France - flows
into the sea near Saint
on France's Atlantic coast west of Nantes. To the north and the south
of the mouth of
the Loire lie a part of the historic province of Brittany, now part of
the Loire Atlantique department, and the historic area of Vendée,
a fairly flat coastal plain area that was once famous for its
resistance to the French Revolution. The Vendée coastline
some well-known seaside resorts, with large sandy beaches, including Les Sables d'Olonne.
The lower Loire basin is currently part of the Pays
de la Loire
region, a land with soft contours, slowly flowing rivers, forests,
fields and villages.
Further inland, the central Loire Valley
is famous for its "Châteaux", such as Chenonceaux (photo
but not so many
tourists venture to discover the byways of this attractive region.
Known as "the garden of France", this region is famous for its mild
climate, its castles, and its vineyards. As the historic French
heartland, the region is rich in history and culture. The countryside
is gentle, with undulating hills and quietly flowing rivers - an ideal
region for those who just want to be lazy, or to enjoy eating out,
fishing or just exploring the countryside. The "Sologne" area, south of
the Loire, contains
the remaining parts of a once huge forest, rich with wildlife, that
originally encouraged the kings and princes of France to build
castles in this region. For more information visit the guide to the Centre
region of France.
There are plenty of wine routes to discover in Central France - in
Burgundy, Champagne and the Loire valley
In the eastern part of this area lies the
famous for its wines; but in fact the wine-growing region of Burgundy
is quite small, lying mostly in a ribbon along the western edge of the
Saone plain, south of Dijon.
This part of Burgundy is rich in places to visit, including Dijon and Beaune (the wine
capital). In the north of Burgundy, the Morvan hills are the last
outcrop of the uplands of central France.
The Saône plain is a fairly flat
region, with lots of lakes (la Bresse)
and slow flowing rivers. This region is very popular with anglers and
Most of the rest of Burgundy is a hilly region
(the Morvan), with small towns and villages many of them rich in
history. The hills are higher than those further west, and the valleys
deeper; the Morvan is hill country, and there are good hiking paths;
but it is not mountain country.
Angers, Orléans, Dijon. Paris.
(more detailed information, including major tourist attractions)
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