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Landscape

The Loire and its tributaries

The Loire Valley faces in just the right direction for the Park to be bathed in the Atlantic climate. The Loire and its tributaries (Authion, Thouet, Vienne, Indre and Cher) are main migratory channels and all manner of birds flock there.
The most inaccessible river banks are chosen by beavers for building their lodge.

The only thing we ask of walkers is to be careful not to encroach upon environments that are often vulnerable to too many passing feet!

Floodplains

Away from the river banks, the natural landscapes are closed tied up with farming activity. Livestock rearing looks after the fields in the floodable valleys, keeping them for grazing or mowed. In early spring, the snake's head fritillary is one of the first flowers to blossom in these fields.

A network of hedges often surrounds and marks out this farmland, and this floodable "bocage" is found in the dampest sectors. On top of acting as property boundaries, hedges are also used as enclosures for herds. If you go down to the Véron, where the Loire meets the Vienne, you'll see the typical "pollarded" double hedges.

Then as you make your way up the hillside, look down on the chalk plateaus and you'll see that they are mainly planted with crops, vines or cereals.

Forest

"Cultivated woodland" is now a common sight in the countryside, planted with coniferous and leafy trees. Myriad footpaths, running particularly through public woodland, are perfect for heading out along to explore the forests in Chinon, Milly (Sud-Saumurois) or Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil.

Hillsides and calcareous steppes

Take a walk along the chalk hillsides in the Park and you'd think you were travelling through the south of France! The plants to be found in these dry environments might be called “pelouses” (lawns), but don't look anything like a garden! They are short grasses, of varying density, showing patches of soil here and there.
It is human activity that has shaped these landscapes that were originally covered with woodland.

The Loire Valley, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage

Since 30th November 2000, the Loire Valley has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a "living cultural landscape": from Sully-sur-Loire (Loiret) all the way to Chalonnes-sur-Loire (Maine-et-Loire) – i.e. an unbroken 280 km following the river's meanders.

The Regional Nature Park is behind this recognition. It is the largest site to be listed by UNESCO in France – and a third of it is included in the territory of the Regional Nature Park.

The Park is involved in promoting this recognition by ensuring the natural and living environments are protected.