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Atlantic Loire Valley, also known as Western Loire or Pays de la Loire, is a region of lush countryside covered in chateaux, stunning beaches including the 9km long expanse of fine sand at La Baule, and historic towns and cities where troglodyte caves are hidden underground, carved out of the beautiful soft white tuffeau stone.

As the Loire river runs west towards the Atlantic you will enter a peaceful region of leafy countryside, a gorgeous coastline and salt marshes, dotted with a wealth of châteaux and quiet, charming rural villages.

Here you'll find popular seaside resorts with plenty of family entertainment including St Jean de Monts, Les Sables d'Olonne and fashionable La Baule whose long crescent shaped beach is regarded as being the most beautiful in the country.

This is also a huge wine growing area and the vineyards of the red, white and fruity rosé vintages of Saumur and Anjou are amongst the first you will see when travelling south through western France. The dry white Muscadet which is so perfect with seafood is produced near the commercial port of Nantes - head to the city centre and treat yourself to a meal in one of the gourmet restaurants and sample this delicious wine at the same time (great shopping and sightseeing here too).

Amongst a host of other attractions is the amazing medieval theme park Puy du Fou near Les Epesses which features a 6,000 seat Roman coliseum complete with chariot races, gladiators and lions, an authentic medieval village and much, much more. It is highly recommended that you go for a full day (take a picnic!) and then stay until dark to watch the spectacular Cinéscénie show.

Top places to visit

Nantes, in Atlantic Loire Valley, is a beautiful city that was once the long-held historical capital of Brittany and is today a vibrant hub for the creative arts.

Angers in Atlantic Loire Valley is an artistic city on the banks of the River Maine, that is steeped in medieval history and full of beautiful gardens and parks.

Saumur in Atlantic Loire Valley is easily recognised by its fairytale chateau and is famous for its association with horses - the area around the town is even known as the Kingdom of the Horse.

La Baule in Atlantic Loire Valley is a fantastic, stylish seaside resort famed for its beach - an expanse of fine sand nearly 9km long that is regarded as one of the best beaches in Europe.

Based in Saumur, with all members of the display team working as instructors at the National Riding School here, the Cadre Noir are famous worldwide for their excellence in horsemanship.

An unprecedented artistic project combining the imaginative and invented worlds of Jules Verne with the mechanical ingenuity of Leonardo De Vinci, the Machines de ''île is the brainchild of François Delarozière and Pierre...

The majestic Castle of the Dukes of Brittany is a fortified medieval castle built when Nantes was part of Brittany. Although its walls are rather austere, inside the courtyard you'll discover a brilliant white palace made of...

The first of its kind in Europe, Terra Botanica is a fun and educational plant-life theme park to explore and discover through interactive activities. Amongst the 110,000m² of gardens, aquatic areas and glasshouses you'll find...