• The Loire estuary has several strings to its bow: the river and its tributaries from Anjou, the plains and farmland in Vendée to the south, and the Breton lands to the north.
Between the Nantes region and the Morbihan is an eclectic selection of landscapes influenced by the ocean: the Guérande peninsula and its famous shimmering salt marshes
, the Brière
marshes and their reeds which are still used in thatched roofing, and the golden beaches around the estuary. Between Retz and the heath-lands around Olonne and the hedgerows of inland Vendée, you can see the Muscadet
vineyards and the countryside atmosphere... The sloping banks of the Loire
continue the majestic voyage of the royal river which begins upstream in Touraine Gastronomy and local produce
• To taste a fish caught by the trawler-men from Croisic and cooked with "fleur de sel" (the best quality unrefined salt) is to pay homage to the (wonderful) work of man and time. Patience and delicacy are the main qualities of a salt-worker, who rakes up in a sort of slow choreography the salt crystals formed at the surface of the salt marshes. Another skill often seen in the Brière marshes is that of the craftsmen who harvest the reeds, to provide a noble material (thatch) that has become popular again for roofing, as it is reliable and eco-friendly! A ride in a flat-bottom barge on the canals and ponds affords great pleasure to bird watchers, in this kingdom of water birds. Of course, Muscadet
, the dry, fruity white wine, which can sometimes be slightly sparkling (if it is aged on the lees), holds place of honour throughout the region. It owes its temperament to its single grape variety: le melon de Bourgogne.
• Sailing off the coast of Vendée, you can enjoy the attractions of the Ile d'Yeu and the Ile de Noirmoutier
. This island is also attractive for its salt marshes and its delicious variety of potato: the "bonnotte"
• Around the Lac de Grand Lieu
, huge and yet very discreet, or in the heart of inland Vendée, with the forest of Mervent-Vouvant, hiking affords some beautiful scenery. Cyclotourism
• Cycle paths and green routes specially marked out along the coast of Vendée travel through the lovely pine forests of the area around Olonne
• A large part of the Poitevin marshes
offers more circuit cycling tours along quiet little roads (towards the dried out marshes) or boat rides on the canals of the wet marshes, known as "Green Venice"! There are several nature reserves to aim for: Pointe d’Arçay, l’île de Charouin or the region of Saint-Denis-du-Payr.Navigable waterways
• River cruises are especially popular in Anjou
, on the Mayenne, the Maine and the Sarthe: all tributaries of the Loire
Elsewhere, the valley of the river Erdre and the Nantes-Brest canal is an invitation to explore southern Brittany, with its strong historical links...