Western Loire summers are generally warm, beginning early in the spring time and finishing late in autumn. It enjoys a maritime climate which can be cold, drizzly and windy in winter.
Food & Drink
Bouchot musseld grown and ahrvested the traditional way: on wooden posts in Aiguillon Bay.
Vendée Atlantique oysters, a quality product.
Fresh sardines and anchovies brought ashore at Satint-Gille-Croix-de-Vie and La Turballe.
Sea salt and the highly-prized fleur de sel salt from the Guérande and Noirmoutier salt pans.
Bonnottes, famous new potatoes from Noirmoutier.
Rillettes de Sarthe, meat spread made from pork or goose.
Fouaces (or fouées): rolls and flat bread baked in a wood-fired oven and spread with rillettes, goat's cheese or local mogettes (beans)...
Button mushrooms (champignons de Paris) cultivated for over a century in Saumur's limestone caves.
Beurre blanc, the Loire Valley's own delicate sauce for river fish. Ingredients: white wine, vinegar, butter, shallots.
Deserts and sweets:
From La Fraiseraie, at Pornic: sorbets, jams, preserves, fruit syrups, fruit jellies. 100% natural.
Les Niniches, from La Baule and Le Pouliguen, chewy sweets with various flavours.
Brioche, the famous sweet French bread, is actually a Vendée speciality.
Quernons d'ardoise angevins: delicious nougat chocolates, coloured blue like the local slates.
Berlingots and Rigolettes from Nantes: traditional sweets with a fruit filling.
LU biscuits: the most famous are Petit-Beurre, from Nantes.
BN de Nantes, yummy biscuits.
Petit Sablé from Sablé-sur-Sarthe: these biscuits are made with fresh butter and recognised as a heritage food.
St-Michel galettes (pancakes) from St-Michel-Chef-Chef and Batz-sur-Mer.
Drinks and liqueurs:
Cider and apple drinks from the Mayenne.
Le Nantillais, a traditional syrup made from ginger, orange and lemon peel, and mixed with Muscadet or fizzy water. Kamok, a delicious coffee-based liqueur.
Combier have made fruit-based liqueurs such as Guignolet d'Anjou in Saumur for 150 years. Cointreau: world famous orange liqueur made since 1849 at St-Barthélémy-d'Anjou, near Angers.
Beautiful cities & places of interest in Pays de la Loire
Charming buildings, fine gastronomy, famous vineyards, museums and festivals. There's no shortage of ambience in Angers! See the city's sights with the family from the Petit Train, and make the most of the magnificent viewpoint over the Maine from the chateau. This is an imposing fortress flanked with 17 impressive towers, and houses the famous Apocalypse tapestry. For entertainment, head straight for the Place du Ralliement, where it's good to linger on the café terraces in the shade of the Italian-style theatre !
As attached as ever to its textile industry, Cholet is known for its handkerchiefs and its 'prêt-à-porter' factories. The Mauges area offers a veritable tour of major brand-names, with 30 stores and more than 100 trade names on a single site. And late July 2005 will see the opening of "Marques Avenue" ! This is a large complex of 38 new factory outlets for the sheer pleasure of shopaholics and bargain hunters. So don't be shy - make the most of year-round sale prices!
This little village, steeped in history, is criss-crossed with canals and can be visited by barge! It's the prettiest way to breathe in its rich medieval heritage, a vestige of earlier greatness. Above all, it still has one of the Sarthe's most beautiful churches, Notre-Dame-des-Marais. In the heart of Perche Sarthois, make a stop at La Ferté-Bernard - now is the time to discover a verdant region which boasts an exceptional heritage!
Fontenay-le-Comte is over one thousand years old, and a classified "Ville d'art et d'histoire". Its history -which was for many years tied to that of the most powerful Poitevin families - has made it the influential capital of the Vendée. Its architectural heritage, including the Notre-Dame church and the Fontaine des Quatre-Tiasis, is of rare quality. The city is also the gateway to two important tourist destinations: The Poitevin Marsh and the Mervent Forest!
It would be a mistake to associate the city only with its famous "24 Heures". In penetrating to the heart of the Plantagenet city, you are turning the pages of a fascinating history book. Protected by a remarkable 3rd century Roman wall, the ancient city is a little jewel: with cobbled streets that are home to half-timbered houses and Renaissance hotels, it has been used in films such as "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Le Bossu". Here, you can let yourself dream of days gone by!
Products of its prestigious maritime and riverside history, Nantes will unveil its port and its 18th-century ship-owners' homes. In the vicinity of the cathedral and the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, take a walk around the medieval quarters of la Juiverie and Bouffay. At once both working class and bourgeois, city of water and lush greenery, Nantes boasts great cultural activity: The Graslin theatre, the Lieu Unique and the Musée des Beaux-Arts are the living proof!
A rocky mound overhanging a twist in the Yon river, a Gaulish village, then a medieval fortress: the town had a population of less than 1,000 when Napoleon decided to make it the prefecture of this Republican Army headquarters, in 1804. Its declared role: to keep a close eye on, and pacify, the restive Vendéens. Designed according to a rectilinear plan around a vast drill ground, Place Napoleon in La Roche-sur-Yon is now a dynamic centre of activity!
The white city of tufa, Saumur is just as you imagined it would be: it is at once sparkling, unusual and delightful. The city has no less than 54 listed monuments, and is dominated by the proud silhouette of its chateau. The seasons are marked by equestrian competitions, military parades, carrousels and galas. The city's reputation has been carried well beyond the boundaries of Anjou by the Cavalry School and the prestigious Cadre Noir teaching body!