Holidays to Loire

Split in two by the river that shares its name, Loire is an ideal destination for revitalising walks through sumptuous scenery and charming villages.

Situated in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, this department is home to the cities of Saint-Étienne in the south and Roanne in the north. The land between the two is tremendously varied, with forests, ponds and peat bogs providing fertile ground for a wide range of animal life, particularly birds. During your walks, you will also come across pretty little villages and museums for all the family.

Loire's natural surroundings are one of its main draws. Extending over 270 square miles in the south of the department, the mountainous Pilat Regional Natural Park is fabulous to explore on hikes along some of its 900 miles of signposted trails. Winter sports are just as popular here too, especially Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Returning to the river, you can go for a wander around the Loire Gorges Regional Nature Reserve, a magnificent hilly landscape that is home to a number of rare bird species.

Like the rest of the department, both the natural park and nature reserve are scattered with villages where time has stood still. For example, stop off in Sainte-Croix-en-Jarez in the Pilat mountain range or Saint-Bonnet-le-Château perched on a rocky promontory and offering outstanding views of the region. Saint-Jean-Saint-Maurice-sur-Loire is also remarkable for its tower with unforgettable panoramic views of the river.

There are also a great many interesting attractions to visit. In Apinac, the whole family will love the Vignal Windmill, which was built in 1783 and still works today. If you go to Montbrison, don't miss the Allard Museum with its exhibitions of fine art, toys and nature. Finally, animal lovers will be in heaven at Espace zoologique de Saint-Martin-la-Plaine, a wildlife park best known for its great apes but also home to many other species.

Loire is easy to reach by car via the A72 and A89 motorways. You can also travel by train to Saint-Étienne. For local travel between the region's towns and villages, the TIL transport network is very handy. Taking a holiday here is a perfectly natural decision. Head to the Loire for a breath of fresh air!

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