The Loire (in French Loire / lwaʁ /), with a total course of 1020 km, is the second longest river in France. Its basin is very extensive (117,000 km²).
The Loire, whose name seems to derive from the presence of the Ligurians on site in the Pre-Gallic period (the name of the river in Latin is Liger and the inhabitants of the region are still called ligériens), since ancient times an important navigation and transport axis goods, is now navigable by large boats only near its estuary, about as far as Nantes.
It seems that originally the Loire flowed into the Seine, until a geological event diverted its path to the ocean.
The Loire has its sources south-east of the Massif Central, in the Vivarais, at the foot of Mount Gerbier de Jonc, in the municipality of Sainte-Eulalie. The presence of a water table under Mount Gerbier de Jonc gives rise to a multiplicity of relatively close sources and three of these are considered sources of the river:
The "geographical spring", at the center of the three, pours into a fountain inside a stable of the old farm de la Loire 44 ° 50′29 ″ N 4 ° 13′07 ″ E, height: 1408 m a.s.l.
The "authentic spring", to the west and downstream of the departmental road 378, distinct from the monument erected in 1938 by the Touring club de France. 44 ° 50′36 ″ N 4 ° 12′57 ″ E, height: 1412 m a.s.l.
The "true spring", to the east, corresponding to the official spring (IGN map) indicated under the Sagnas farm; it flows in a natural environment and comes out of the ground in a meadow under a losa bearing the inscription "Ici commence ma course vers l'Océan ...". 44 ° 50′17 ″ N 4 ° 13′34 ″ E, height: 1404 m a.s.l. The river at its beginning is nothing but a multitude of streams of water that make up as many small streams that gather rapidly.
Source photo gallery
The Loire flows into the Atlantic Ocean with an estuary located near Saint-Nazaire, in the department of the Loire-Atlantique.
The Loire is registered as a World Heritage Site, recognized by UNESCO,
The Loire gave its name to the departments:
Indre and Loire (37)
Loire and Cher (41)
Upper Loire (43)
Maine and Loire (49)
Saône and Loire (71) Furthermore, two French regions (Center-Val de Loire and Pays de la Loire) are named after the river.
Regions, departments and cities crossed
The Loire runs through the following regions:
Loiranelle countries which crosses the departments:
and the main cities crossed are:
Of the multiple tributaries of the Loire, the longest is the Allier River which initially runs parallel until it becomes a tributary.
The main tributaries starting from the source are (D orographic right, S left):
Photo gallery of the tributaries
The average flow of the river is very irregular: it has an average of 350 m³ / s in Orléans and 931 m³ / s at the mouth. However, in the event of extraordinary floods, it can exceed 2,000 m³ / s in the Upper Loire and even 8,000 m³ / s in the Lower Loire. On the other hand, in summer the flow of the river can be severely reduced, so much so that very modest values of 10 m³ / s in Orléans are not to be considered rare. These variations mean that most of the river is not navigable, also due to its very wide bed and cluttered with sand banks.
Average monthly flow rates
The castles of the Loire
In the long valley of the Loire and its transversal valleys there are over 300 castles in the center of France. The castles were built starting from the 10th century, when the kings of France, followed by the court nobility, chose the valley for their summer residences.