GETAWAY IN LOIRE: The travel towards Estuary

From the banks of the river up to the hinterland, the Pays de la Loire are overflowing with riches. Relying on its natural and ancestral heritage, the fourth tourist region of France unfolds to its estuary.

Mayenne, Sarthe, Maine-et-Loire, Loire-Atlantique and Vendée, every department of this Western region of France has its charms and attractions. From Mans in Sarthe, famous among other things for the "24 Hours" race, to the castles of Maine-et-Loire, it would take a lifetime to be able to claim to know the 32,000 square kilometres of river landscapes.

Driving along the river to the ocean is a journey dedicated to nature and art, the beginning of a pleasant discovery of the Pays de la Loire. The regional crossing starts in Fontevraud, in the Royal Abbey built in the eleventh century. In addition to the remarkable architecture of the monastic city, there is a sculpture by Claude Lévêque, Mort en été. Installed in occasion of the open-air art gallery Estuary 2012, is now the starting point of an artistic circumnavigation towards Saint-Nazaire. Follows then Saumur and its castle, Ancenis and the Ursuline Convent, Nantes and its island populated by Machines until 30th August.

Here begins Estuary, the path arranged by the Voyage à Nantes that offers to discover some thirty international art installations. The Loire can be travelled by boat or bike up to the Maison dans la Loire by Jean-Luc Courcoult in Couëron, or the Villa Cheminée by Tatzu Nisi in Cordemais. Before arriving in Saint-Nazaire with its Jardin du Tiers-Paysage (Gilles Cléments), we must pass by the impressive Serpent d'Océan by Huang Yong Ping in Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins.

In Saint-Nazaire, the ocean donates its marine beauties. The city thrives on a culture of fishing dotted with fishing huts, and of an urban spirit, that oscillates between Celtic tradition and modernity, to the image of the Suite de Triangles by Felice Varini. Saint-Nazaire opens the doors of the Atlantic facade of the Pays de la Loire and of another journey through the 450 km of coastline up to the south of Vendee.

Translated by Dafne Inzaina - (August 2015).

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