River of character The Loire is the longest river in France, with a length of 1,006 kilometres. Its source is in the Ardèche, on the southern slopes of Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc, in the southeast of the Massif Central. Its mouth is in the Loire-Atlantique department, in the west of the Pays de la Loire region. Its course is located entirely in France: it is generally oriented first south-north to the vicinity of Briare in the Loiret, then westward. Its catchment area of 117,000 km2 covers more than one fifth of France.
The Loire was one of the main trade and transport routes in France. In the 17th century, wine, coal, wood, cereals and salt were transported on the Loire. This allowed the growth of the many towns on the Loire.
The entire river has been listed as a Site of Community Importance in the European Natura 2000 network under the two European "Birds" and "Habitats" directives, with a view to protecting its wild fauna and flora, its biodiversity, its ecosystems and the places where migratory species pass through.
Take advantage of canoeing down the Loire to discover the river, you won't be disappointed.