The changing light along the River Loire

The majestic Loire river (External link) is the backbone of the Pays de la Loire region and has inspired many writers. Joachim du Bellay, Julien Gracq and Alexandre Dumas – to name but a few – put pen to paper here and created their best works. The Loire has also long been a source of inspiration for artists, with numerous painters capturing its changing scenery on canvas. The longest river in France, the Loire is forever changing with the days and the seasons. It’s shrouded in magical mists in winter, barely distinguishable amidst the shadows of the trees on its banks. From spring onwards it becomes gentle and green, revealing a string of beautiful islands and forests – a particular delight for cyclists on the Loire à Vélo route.

The river lights up with the arrival of the warmer weather and this is also the perfect time for walks along the water’s edge, admiring the reflections of the châteaux on its surface and the dramatic colours of sunrises and sunsets. In summer, the low water levels (and slow flow) reveal a number of sand and gravel banks, which formerly enabled local residents to cross from one bank to the other before the bridges were built. As the Loire approaches the sea its character changes, with tidal variations noticeable and changes in water height seen upstream as far as Ancenis, especially in the spring.