The valley of the Loire River is a scenic and protected environment
The Loire Valley is found south of Paris, in the center of France. The valley from Sully-sur-Loire to Chalonne is listed as a French world heritage site by UNESCO.
The Loire Valley falls into two French departments - Centre and Pays de la Loire.
The region is best known for its fine castles (many are seen on this site - see separate section Loire Valley Chateaux).
But there is more to the Loire valley than its castles. There are some extraordinary and fascinating historic towns in the Loire valley - for example Amboise, Blois, Orléans, Chinon, Saumur, Tours, and also many interesting smaller towns and villages.
The landscape along the river itself is also very attractive. For the large part very well maintained, planned and controlled since hundreds of years ago, it now forms a beautiful, managed landscape, in which the chateau and the river seem to fit perfectly.
Most of the Loire river valley is now protected as a UNESCO world heritage site. They described the reason for its listing: "an exceptional cultural landscape, of great beauty, comprised of historic cities and villages, great architectural monuments - the Châteaux - and lands that have been cultivated and shaped by centuries of interaction between local populations and their physical environment, in particular the Loire itself."