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The longest river in France gives its name to many different regions within the country, most notably the popular Loire Valley which has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It is a name that can be traced back to a Gaulish word meaning silt or sediment and is also the root of the English words lie and lay. After rising amongst the Cévennes Mountains in the south-east, the Loire flows northwards before heading west and discharging into the Bay of Biscay at Saint-Nazaire.

The river is possibly most famous for the vineyards and chateaux that line its banks. Some of these have been here since medieval times and have been a major influence in the rise in popularity of this beautiful region. The area is classed as one of the best wine-growing regions in the world, producing high-quality varieties in the form Muscadet, Sancerre and Pouilly-fume. Your Loire river cruise may well include the opportunity to taste some of these vintages in places such as Nantes, Tours and Blois.

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