Pays de la Loire, France

Pays de la Loire is located in western France at the mouth of the Loire. Pays de la Loire is an administrative region that was formed in the 1950s and has remained unchanged ever since. Since the administrative reform of 2016, it has been bordered by Normandy to the north, Centre-Val de Loire to the east, New-Aquitaine to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Brittany to the north-west.

The region includes large parts of the historic landscapes of Anjou, Maine, Le Perche, Poitou and historic Brittany. Within this landscape lie some of the Loire's well-known châteaux, but most are in the Centre-Val de Loire region.





Château Gontier





La Baule or La Baule-Escoublac

Le Mans

Les Sables d'Olonne





Other destinations

Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
La Flèche


Getting here

By plane
The largest airport in the region is Nantes-Atlantique; there are also direct flights from German-speaking countries. If the destination is in the north or west of the region, a flight to Rennes can also be considered; if it is in the southwest, you can fly to La Rochelle. Following flights to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, you can take the TGV directly from the airport station to Le Mans (1 hour 40 minutes), Angers (2 hours 20 minutes) or Nantes (just under 3 hours).

By train
The TGV Atlantique high-speed line runs from Paris to Le Mans, allowing speeds of up to 300 km/h. With the TGV from Paris-Montparnasse, you can reach Le Mans in 55 minutes approximately every hour, Angers in a good 1½ hours and Nantes in around 2:10 hours. The TGV on the Paris-Rennes line stops in Laval eight times a day; the travel time from Paris-Montparnasse is just over 1½ hours. A TGV runs five times a day from Paris to Saint-Nazaire, the journey takes an average of 2:45 hours also the station has to be changed.

By bus
Ouibus, the long-distance bus division of SNCF, offers bus services from Paris to Le Mans, Angers and Nantes. These are significantly cheaper than a train journey (from €7), but also take much longer.

Flixbus offers long-distance bus connections from various German cities to Angers and Nantes (change in Paris).



From provinces to departments
In 1790, the various administrative and religious territorial divisions of the kingdom of France were replaced by the departments.

Most of Anjou forms the department of Maine-et-Loire.
Brittany gives birth to five departments: Côtes-du-Nord, Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine, Loire-Inférieure and Morbihan.
Maine formed the departments of Mayenne and Sarthe.
Poitou has formed three departments. Its western part, Bas-Poitou, formed the department of Vendée and part of that of Deux-Sèvres.
On March 9, 1957, the department of Loire-inférieure took the name of department of Loire-Atlantique.

Region training
On April 5, 1919, on the proposal of Étienne Clémentel, Minister of Trade and Industry, the government instituted “regional economic groups” or “economic regions” based on the perimeter of the chambers of commerce. These groups were formed according to the will of the local authorities. The grouping centered on the city of Nantes included Morbihan and Indre-et-Loire in addition to the five departments of the current region. Morbihan was first placed in the Rennes region but later preferred to join the Nantes region.

In 1941, the government of Marshal Pétain grouped the departments into “regions” placed under the authority of a regional prefect. He created the region of Angers including Loire-Inférieure, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe and Indre-et-Loire. The Vendée is not one of them.

In 1955, the Edgar Faure government created “regional action programs”. The ministerial decree of December 6, 1956 specifies the composition of the regions concerned, including that of Pays de la Loire.

In 1960, the Michel Debré government decided to create regional action constituencies and confirmed the Pays de la Loire region.

Finally, on January 16, 2015, the law relating to the delimitation of new regions confirms the Pays de la Loire region in its current composition.



In comparison with the gross domestic product of the European Union, expressed in purchasing power standards, the region achieved an index of 99.0 in 2006 (EU-27 = 100).

In 2017, the region ranked 8th in France in terms of population and gross domestic product.

Its greatest strength is the agri-food industry. In 2017, this sector employed 47,500 people (2nd region of France) and had a turnover of 13 billion euros (3rd region of France). The region also ranks third in meat production (51%), milk production (19%) and grain processing (20%); 67% of the territory is occupied by agriculture. The Pays de la Loire is the most important region in France for the production of beef, poultry (red label), rabbits, ducks and second for milk, poultry, pork and potatoes.

In 2001, the Pays de la Loire region was the largest region in France in terms of horticultural area and number of people employed in the sector, dominating the production of flowering or leafy pot plants, bedding plants, perennials, aromatic and aquatic plants, and ornamental and fruit nurseries. 600 companies are active in this economic sector, employing almost 6000 people and generating a turnover of over 600 million euros.



The gardens and parks in the region are part of the European Garden Heritage Network. In addition, part of the Loire, more precisely from Sully-sur-Loire to Chalonnes-sur-Loire, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Cultural heritage

UNESCO describes the Loire Valley as follows:
"The Loire Valley is an exceptional cultural landscape encompassing historic towns and villages, great architectural monuments - the châteaux - and cultivated lands shaped by centuries of interaction between people and their physical environment, including the Loire itself."

A part of the region has been classified according to the criteria (i) (outstanding architecture), (ii) (cultural landscape, harmonious development of the interaction between people and their environment over a two-thousand-year history) and (iv) (numerous cultural monuments that exceptionally reflect the ideals of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment) declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the designation Val de Loire. The site, listed as a Historical Monument, extends across the department of Maine-et-Loire, from Montsoreau to Chalonnes-sur-Loire. The classification enables the protection of the cultural heritage of the Loire Valley (parks, Loire châteaux and towns) shared by the Centre-Val de Loire and Pays de la Loire regions. The region is home to some important Loire castles: Montsoreau Castle, the only Loire Castle built on the Loire river bed, Montreuil-Bellay Castle, Saumur Castle, Brissac Castle, Le Lude Castle, the Castle Baugé, Serrant Castle, Angers Castle and Le Plessis-Bourré Castle.

The cities of Angers, Fontenay-le-Comte, Laval, Le Mans, Guérande, Nantes and Saumur bear the villes d'art et d'histoire ('Cities of Art and History') label. The villages of Montsoreau, Sainte-Suzanne and Vouvant are part of the association of the most beautiful villages in France (Association des plus beaux villages de France). The region has an exceptional cultural heritage with numerous museums and art galleries such as the David d'Angers gallery in Angers, the Musée de Tessé in Le Mans, the Musée des Sciences in Laval or the Musée Jules-Verne in Nantes. The region's museums include exceptional heritage such as the Apocalypse tapestry, the Song of the World by Jean Lurçat or the world's largest collection of works by Art & Language at the Montsoreau Castle Museum of Contemporary Art, repatriated by Philippe Méaille in December 2017 .

The main cultural element of the region is the Orchester National des Pays de la Loire. It has ten thousand subscribers and hosts two hundred concerts annually, attracting almost 200,000 spectators a year. The Orchester national des Pays de la Loire is one of the most popular orchestras in Europe. It is financially supported by the Regional Council of the Pays de la Loire, the Ministry of Culture, the five departmental prefectures and the five general councils of the region.


Natural heritage

Declared a World Heritage Site, the Loire Valley allows the natural spaces on the banks of the Loire to be protected. The great variety of biotopes of the river and its banks: banks and sandbanks, gravel islands covered with vegetation, wooded floodplain banks, protective dams, river bed terraces, forests shelter a great variety of natural habitats from which a rich and luxuriant flora and fauna benefit. The Loire-Anjou-Touraine Regional Natural Park, located between the cities of Angers and Tours, is included in the Val de Loire classification.

The Normandy-Maine Regional Natural Park allows the protection of fauna and flora in southern Lower Normandy and northern Pays de la Loire. It includes the highest point in the region, Mont des Avaloirs (416.3 m). Set up at the top of the mountain, the Belvédère des Avaloirs offers a panoramic view of the surroundings.

The Brière Regional Natural Park is located north of the Loire estuary and includes a large marshland. It extends over 490 km² and is home to numerous animal and plant species.

Several national nature reserves allow the protection of other areas in the region:

the Basses Vallées Angevines in the departments of Maine-et-Loire and Mayenne;
the Marais poitevin (also known as "Green Venice") and the Bay of Aiguillon; the territory extends over the regions of Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Pays de la Loire and the departments of Vendée, Deux-Sèvres and Charente-Maritime;
the Marais breton-vendéen between the departments of Loire-Atlantique and Vendée;
the lake of Grand-Lieu in the department of Loire-Atlantique.



The Pays de la Loire region covers 32,082 km2. It takes its name from the Loire which crosses two of the five departments that make it up before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. The last tributaries of the river irrigate the region: the Loir, the Sarthe and the Mayenne which come together to form the Maine at Angers, the Erdre to the north, the Thouet and the Sèvre Nantaise to the south. In total, there are 18,000 kilometers of waterways in the region.

The relief of the region is made up of the hills of Vendée to the south, to the north of Sarthe and Mayenne by the Coëvrons, the Alpes mancelles, the forest of Perseigne and the hills of Perche. The highest point is the Mont des Avaloirs (416 meters). The Sillon de Bretagne, which is the continuity of the Landes de Lanvaux du Morbihan, ends at the promontory of the Butte Sainte-Anne in Nantes. Most of the region is located on the Armorican Massif. Only the eastern part is on a sedimentary basin: the eastern half of the department of Maine-et-Loire and the department of Sarthe to the east of the heights of Coëvrons, i.e. three quarters of this department. This part of the region is topographically very close to the central region.

The region is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean for a length of 368 kilometers and has two important islands: the island of Noirmoutier and the island of Yeu. The coasts are alternately rocky and sandy, Côte Sauvage north of the mouth of the Loire, Côte de Jade between the Loire and the island of Noirmoutier, Côte de Lumière in Vendée.

Several marshes reclaimed from the sea over the centuries punctuate the coast: the Brière near Saint-Nazaire, the Marais Breton to the north of Vendée and the Marais poitevin to the south.

The region is the 7th largest in metropolitan France in area.



Aléop is the region's public transport service managing the region's buses, coaches, trains and boats.

Destineo is an information website for travelers in the region.

In 2014, the Pays de La Loire Regional Council, in partnership with the French National Railway Company (SNCF), created a transport card (TivA card) reserved for all young people aged 15 to 25 residing in the Pays de la Loire, whatever their status. This TivA card cost 25 euros and offered a 50% reduction on all trips in the region.

It has been replaced by the Mezzo card accessible to all, available in two versions, one under 26 and another over 26. Those under 26 cost 20 euros per year and those over 26 cost 30 euros per year. They both offer -50% on all trips by regional express transport (TER) and allow you to have three companions at half price on Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays and also all summer long. With three children under 12 it's free.



In 2017, the region ranked 8th in France for population and gross domestic product.

Its main strength is the food industry. In 2017, this sector employed 47,500 people (2nd French region) for a turnover of 13 billion euros (3rd French region). It also ranks 3rd for meat production (51%), milk (19%) and grain processing (20%); 67% of the territory is occupied by agriculture. The Pays de la Loire is the first French region for the production of beef, poultry (red label), rabbit, duck and 2nd for milk, poultry (simple), pork and potatoes.

In 2001, Pays de la Loire was the leading region in France in terms of horticultural area and the number of jobs in the sector, thus dominating in the production of plants in flowering or leafy pots, bedding plants, perennials, aromatic and aquatic, and ornamental or fruit nurseries. Six hundred companies work in this economic sector, employing nearly 6,000 people and generating more than six hundred million euros in turnover.



Since 1994, Commequiers station, in Vendée, has been the starting point for a 10 km long cycle rail route allowing you to discover the hinterland of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie as far as the town of Coëx. .

Puy du Fou, in Vendée, is the most visited tourist site in the region.