Les Pays de la Loire

Today we will discover together the region called “Pays de la Loire”. This region is juxtaposed with BrittanyNormandy, New Aquitaine and Loire Valley-Centre.


The Pays de la Loire region is a recent creation, not one of France’s historic regions in its form. Indeed, the regional capital, Nantes, was once the capital of Brittany – to which it no longer belongs. In historic terms, Pays de la Loire covers parts of the old provinces of Brittany, Anjou, Maine and Poitou. The region is famous for its numerous castles running along the river Loire creating an eponymous label “Châteaux de la Loire” protected by the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A lot of tourists, French and international, come to the region during the holidays in order to visit them. It is also known for the “Puy du Fou“, an attraction parc where history is mixed with performances and nature.

The Pays de la Loire covers the area to the south of Brittany and Normandy, along the lower stretches of the river Loire, the longest river in France with 1,012km. An oceanic climate prevails there.

The region is composed of five departments, two of them coastal – the Loire Atlantique (44) and the Vendée (85) – and three of them inland, the Mayenne (53), the Sarthe (72) and the Maine et Loire (49). 

Sables d’Olonne beach

“Opening onto the Atlantic Ocean, with Europe’s last wild river running through it, the Pays de la Loire region offers a fascinatingly varied heritage. Vast and expansive, its scenery is very diverse and its attractions appeal to holidaymakers as well as lovers of fauna and flora. With 450 kilometres of coastline, made up of a series of superb sandy beaches, wild, rocky coasts and renowned seaside resorts such as La Baule, Les Sables-d’Olonne, Pornic and Saint-Jean-de-Monts, this highly prized destination in western France enchants fans of relaxation and sports and lovers of unspoilt landscapes in equal measure. Indeed, it’s hard to resist the charms of the wild coast or the Coast of Light, where you can enjoy the benefits of the beach or try your hand at water sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing. Off the coast, the magnificent islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier also offer some wonderful places for strolling and recharging your batteries.

Château des Ducs de Bretagne – Nantes

In the countryside, the Pays de la Loire region is also loved by walkers and architecture enthusiasts, with the banks of the famous royal river adorned by sumptuous castles, the Poitevin Marsh offering romantic boat rides, megalithic remains, the Cities of Art and History of Angers, Laval, Nantes and Le Mans, as well as the regional nature parks of Brière, Loire-Anjou-Touraine and Normandy-Maine, all three containing countless hiking trails.

Steeped in history and boasting an impressive built heritage, this vast area encompasses some of the famous Loire castles, like those of Angers and its famous tapestry of the Apocalypse, Brissac, Le Lude, Montreuil-Bellay, Montsoreau, Saumur or Serrant.

A lively place all year round, the Pays de la Loire region also hosts major events like the Hellfest in Clisson, a big metal music festival, the 24 Heures du Mans, a legendary sports car endurance race, and the Vendée Globe, a famous round-the-world solo sailing race that takes place every four years.”

From France-Voyage.com, “Tourism in Pays de la Loire. Guide, holidays & weekends in Pays de la Loire”, [red 22/01/2020], accessed on: https://www.france-voyage.com/travel-guide/pays-de-la-loire-region.htm


The history of the “Pays de la Loire” region begins with the decree of 30 June 1955, which provides for the establishment of regional action programmes with the aim of “promoting economic and social expansion”. The ministerial order of 1956 sets out the framework for these programmes.

Before 1956 the history is that of the various historical territories that make it up:


The flag regroups various coats-of-arms each representing a department of the region. It is not used in official settings where a logotype is used instead.  It gathers the symbols of the former provinces of Anjou, Brittany (Nantes region) and Vendée. 

“The flag is composed of a “part Azure semé de fleurs de lys Or within a bordure Gules charged with a lion Argent in the form of a franc-canton” recalling the coat of arms of Anjou and Sarthe, as well as Mayenne, The coat of arms of the Loire-Atlantique and the Mayenne is “a plain ermine with a wavy azure border” and “on the whole in abutment, a double-hearted Vendean heart Gules” for the coat of arms of the Vendée.”

Culinary Specialities

Like everywhere in France, the region abounds with culinary specialities: wines and foods. The food lovers who go there are able to enjoy not a modern and complex cuisine but simple and authentic dishes which are as delicious as a complex one. 

If you go there you must try one of the Anjou wines and bring back one of the famous Noirmoutier and Guérande salts.

Anjou wines:
 The name is under the AOC (“Appellation d’origine contrôlée” or controlled designation of origin) established by France and later the system became copied by a lot of other countries such as Spain, Switzerland, USA, etc. This nomination under the national law doesn’t always work internationally. Under the Anjou wines there are the Saumur, the Saumur-Champigny, the Coteaux-de-Saumur, the Anjou villages, the Anjou villages Brissac, the Savennières, the Coteaux-du-Layon, the Coteaux-de-l’aubance, the Bonnezeaux, the Chaume, the Quarts-de-Chaume and the “Gamay noir à jus blanc”. These wines can exist as white wine, red wine or even rosé wine. It depends on the vineyards planted by the productors.

How to drink it: The red wines accompany cold meats, white meats, red meats, poultry… The white wines go well with cooked shellfish, seafood, fish, white meats, poultry… Red and white wines can be kept for around 5 years. Red wines should be served between 16 and 18 Celsus degrees and white wines around 10 degrees.

Guérande salt marshes

Noirmoutier or Guérande salts: Between 1343 and 1790, the Guérande salts in particular was used as a currency and served to pay taxes. I was then called the “white gold”. You can find it under two different forms: gros sel (coarse salt) and fleur de sel (salt flower).

How to use it: The coarse salt is made up of very thick salt crystals, often grey in colour. It is rather used for cooking for example to prepare court-bouillons, pot-au-feu or for all cooking with water. On the other hand, because of its strong salting power it should not be used directly to salt dishes. That is what fleur de sel is made for, before serving, sprinkle a small pinch of it on your fingertips. It is not used for cooking but for perfecting dishes at the last moment.

Nantes berlingots / Fouace

 the Vendeen ham, the braised ham, the Challans ducks, the white sausages/pudding of Le Mans, the capon with morel mushrooms, the calf’s butt with white wine and morels, the wild rabbit pies, the fresco and the veal rouelle with carrots.

From the sea: the Vendean mouclade, the chowder à la vendéenne and the marinated shad.

Vegetables/non-meat dishes: the glasswort, the Angevin soup, the asparagus à la nantaise and the mogettes of Vendée. 

Cheeses: the Curé nantais, the Bon Mayennais, the Chaussée aux moines and the Curé nantais

Desserts: the Vendean brioche, the shortbread biscuits, the “petit beurre” and the Nantes Berlingot.

Bread: the “fouace” is a large crown loaf

Thank you for your attention and we hope that you have discovered a lot of things about the Pays de la Loire and its assets. And remember if you are jealous of all their dishes and wine, it is currently 0°C there because France is still in its winter season.

If you want more information about the region, check the links below:


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