Loire ValleyLoire Valley (French Vallée de la Loire) is known as the Garden of France and the Cradle of the French Language. It is also noteworthy for the quality of its architectural heritage, in its historic towns such as Blois, Chinon, Orleans, Saumur, and Tours, but in particular for its world-famous castles, such as the Chateaux Chambord and Chenonceaux.
The landscape of the Loire Valley, and more particularly its many cultural monuments, illustrate to an exceptional degree the ideals of the Renaissance and the Age of the Enlightenment on western European thought and design. The Loire Valley is an outstanding cultural landscape of great beauty, containing historic towns and villages, great architectural monuments, its many chateaux, and fine wines.
On December 2, 2000, UNESCO named the central part of the Loire River valley, between Maine and Sully-sur-Loire, to its prestigious list of World Heritage Sites. In choosing this area that includes the France Departements of Loiret, Loir-et-Cher, Indre-et-Loire and Maine-et-Loire, the committee said that the Loire Valley is: "an exceptional cultural landscape, of great beauty, comprised of historic cities and villages, great architectural monuments - the Chateaux- and lands that have been cultivated and shaped by centuries of interaction between local populations and their physical environment, in particular the Loire itself."