The Pays de La Loire Region

The western Loire valley unites the former provinces of Brittany, Normandy, Touraine and Poitou to form today’s region of Pays de La Loire.

The region’s diverse physical characteristics encompass a dense network of rivers, 450 km of coastline, and numerous small fields bordered by hedges. The chateaux of the landed nobility are prominent features of the various parts of the region, which has a rich and varied cultural history. Agriculture dominates the regional economy, but industry, fishing and shipbuilding also play a role.

Pays de La Loire is the fifth most populous region in France (3,222,000 inhabitants), the fourth biggest industrial region and the second biggest in terms of agriculture. The region combines large metropolitan areas with extensive stretches of rural land, and economic centres with remarkable natural habitats. Every third inhabitant in the Loire region lives in a rural area as against every fourth inhabitant in the rest of France. Three out of ten inhabitants are under 25 years old while every fifth person is over sixty. The proportion of those over sixty is higher at the Vendée coastline, in the north of the Mayenne département and in the east of the Sarthe département.

Pays de La Loire covers an area of 32,100 m2. Its population density is close to the national average (100 inhabitants per km2 as against 108 inhabitants per km2 at national level).

Water is an important element in the region, which has 450 km of coastline stretching from the mouth of the Vilaine river in the north to the bay of l’Aiguillon, and over 18,000 km of rivers and streams.

Even though there are some deep river valleys, the region has few hills. The highest point is Avaloirs mountain in the north-east of the Mayenne département, at a height of 417 metres.

The Loire valley is the main axis of development and also the location of the largest metropolitan areas (Nantes, Angers and Saint-Nazaire).

Pays de La Loire is characterised by a balance between traditional activities (wood, fashion, shipbuilding), an increasingly important high-tech sector and a growing services sector. The food sector is one of the mainstays of the regional and national economies.

The parks and gardens in all their variety are one of the great attractions of this part of France, whether their emphasis be on landscape features or on botanical, aesthetic or historical elements. Every green treasure possesses an individual charm of its own which can be enjoyed at will – whether it is a case of English reverie or French elegance, Italian atmospheres or oriental meditation, green mazes or fantastically-shaped arbours, the constant alternation of scents or symphonies of white water-lilies, shaped yew-trees and arrangements of boxwood or sweetly scented rose gardens. The quality of culture in the parks and gardens in the Pays de La Loire is such that the visitor can look forward to a range of stimulating and colourful walks filled with fragrant scents.