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Destination Loire Valley
The Valley of the Loire is situated two hours southwest of Paris, in the center of France. Through the Loire Valley flows the Loire River which begins in the Auvergne of the Massif Central and takes its water all the way to the Atlantic Coast. The untamed Loire River is wide and open, and its unpredictable temperament always surprises.
France’s Loire Valley is also called the Garden of France, with its beautiful vineyards, colorful flowers and endless rolling green hills. This lovely region also includes hundreds of castles that will enchant tourists. In 2000 the UNESCO has declared the Loire Valley a World Heritage Site. With 800 square kilometers (300 square miles) this is one of the biggest areas ever accepted by the UNESCO.
Medieval castles were built here because the Loire was strategically important during the Hundred Years' War. Later during the Renaissance, the fortified castles were replaced by pleasure palaces as the Loire became fashionable among the Parisian rich and royal. While less than a thousand, there are countless castles to choose from. Consider visiting one of the regions three most interesting ones: Chenonceau, Chambord and Cheverny. But don't go overboard on visiting – two castles a day seems to be just right per day! They can be visited in a day by car or local minibus tour.
The Valley of a Thousand Castle’s is also the home to many good wines. As you travel through the Loire, look for "Degustation" (tasting) signs. Vines have been grown here for many centuries with wine being produced since 380 AD, if not earlier. Today the region produces approximately 400 million bottles a year, from both sweet and dry white wines to rose and fruity red wines. The main grapes grown in the Loire Valley are the Chenin Blanc and the Sauvignon and it is home of Sancerre, Pouilly, Bourgueil, Anjou and other fine wines.