Interested in visiting Loire River? Want to explore the entire Loire River in a different way? A Loire River Cruise will let you uncover the charm along the Loire River!
The Loire River is the longest river in France, at 1013km (629 miles) long. It is known as the “royal river” because numerous kings and aristocrats used to live in hundreds of beautiful castles located along the river bank. It is also famous for its wildness as it is the last “wild river” in the country due to its unpredictable currents and shallow water.
Loire River rises in the Cevennes in the southeast of France and flows through Orleans, Tours, Angers, Nantes, and finally reaches the Bay of Biscay in St. Nazaire. However, not all of the river is navigable especially in the upper Loire River. The Canal Latéral à la Loire runs roughly parallel to the upper Loire River and it attracts many visitors for barge cursing. They often offer bicycles for visitors to explore local villages and sometimes a minibus to take them on excursions. A ride in a Hot-air balloon over vineyards can also be arranged with wine tasting and horseback riding. The Loire Valley is the largest area in France and is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. It has a rich history, remarkable landmarks and some famous wine producers including Muscadet, Chinon, Vouvray, Cheverny and Sancerre.Birds’ eye view of the Loire (Wikimedia commons)
Best time to visit
The best way to experience Loire River and embrace the beauty along the river bank is through Loire River Cruise. The best time to take the Loire River Cruise is from April to October because you will expect warm, pleasant weather in spring and late summer, with a bit of chilling and rainy weather towards the fall. Month of August will be the hottest and you will expect lots of visitors as they take time off from holidays. At the same time many smaller shops and restaurants will be closed. From April 2015, visitors can experience overnight cruises on the river through CroisiEurope and it offers cruises during Christmas and New Year Eve. Before then, only short daytime cruises are available.
During the Loire River Cruise, there are many highlights in the cities that it passes through. At the start point and finishing point for the cruise in Nantes, visitors can explore Les Machines de l’Ile, a remarkable regeneration of the old shipyard inspired by science fiction author Jules Verne, who was also born in Nantes. In the park, there is a three-story marine-themed carousel and a 40-foot wooden elephant that carries roughly 50 passengers and sprays water to passerby.
St. Nazaire, Angers
In St. Nazaire, visitors can visit one of the largest shipyard in France – STX France shipyard. Nearby is the Escal’ Atlantic, a former submarine base which has been transformed into a museum that explores historic ocean liners in St.Nazaire. In Angers, visitors will experience cobbled streets and plenty of cafes and bars and local orange-based liqueur Cointreau. You will also get a chance to visit city landmark, 13th – century castle of Angers with its unusual two-toned towers. It houses one of the largest Apocalypse tapestry in the world, 328-foot high. It was commissioned by the Duke of Anjou in 1370 and took seven years to complete. You will also get to tour around the home of French horsemanship in Saumur, Cadre Noir military riding academy which was founded in 1825. If you are lucky, you might see beautiful horses performing classical dressage movements.
During the Loire River Cruise, Bouchemaine is the main port because you can see more than 1000 chateaux of the Loire Valley. Chateau de Villandry, built in 1536, is one of the last largest castles built along the Loire. It is well-known for its six gardens which include a formal pleasure garden, tranquil water garden and decorative vegetable garden.The most famous chateau is the romantic Chateau d’Usse, which inspired Charles Perrault to write the classic fairytale story “Sleeping Beauty”. In recent years, it has inspired and helped Walt Disney to design his trademark theme park castle. Of course you cannot miss another highlight Situated on the Canal de Briare – Chateau de Fontainebleau. It is the only chateau to have been continuously occupied for eight centuries. Due to this long-range occupation, it offers a fascinating mix of architectural styles from years to years including painting from the Renaissance period and carved wooden celling in the 18th centuries.