The name “Loire” comes from Latin Liger, which is a transcription of the native Gaulish (Celtic) name of the river, liga, which means “silt, sediment, deposit, alluvium.”
Rising in the highlands of the southeastern quarter of the Massif Central in the Cevennes range of the Ardeche, the Loire is the longest river in France. At 629 miles in length, it drains an area of more than 45,000 square miles, more than a fifth of the country’s land area.
The Loire Valley, which lies in the middle stretch of the river and extends for about 170 miles, is known as the “Garden of France.” Studded with more than a thousand chateaux, each with distinct architectural embellishments ranging from early medieval to late Renaissance, the region also boasts an abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards, and farms which line the banks of the river, along with many historic villages. For all these riches, UNESCO added the central part of the Loire Valley to its list of World Heritage Sites.
To glide along the Loire in a state-of-the-art paddle-wheel river cruiser is to enjoy a taste of the good life artists and aristocrats have been enjoying for centuries. With so much to see, taste, and experience, the luxury of returning to your own floating hotel, to relax and let the marvels come to you, is truly the journey of a lifetime.