The Loire, The Great Wild River

“To a valiant heart,
nothing is impossible.”
Henri IV of France

Courtesy of Hieronymus Films:

 

“Our mind is enriched by what we receive,
our heart by what we give.”
Victor Hugo

Courtesy of Etienne Lehuédé:

 

Courtesy of French Exploreur:

 

ChateauChenonceauLoire

 

LoireAmboise

The notable great river about which I am writing flows through France, its length 1012 kilometres. The most beautiful French river, it flows over meadows, gorges, under cathedrals, Romanesque churches, past stunning chateaux. The special nature of the Loire lies its wideness, serenity and its history.

Courtesy of Rick Steves’ Europe:

 

Millions of nightingales still fly along the Loire. The river starts as a trout stream and at its mouth ends up as saltwater.

“Thaïs: Méditation” by Jules Massenet, performed by Itzhak Perlman (courtesy of fairytaleofnewyork):

 

NightingalesFlying

NightingaleInsect

The Loire also has a connection with me as I was named after the heroine of France, Jeanne d’Arc. At the age of 18, she led the French army to victory over the English at Orleans. It was during the Hundred Years War and reign of Charles VII. Joan of Arc, as she is called here, was born in Domremy in 1412 and died 1430, aged 19 burned at the stake at Rouen. She was canonised as a Roman Catholic Saint on 16 May 1920 at St. Peter’s Basilica. Her story is incredible because for a peasant girl, who could not read nor write, to be able to get to the king himself and persuade him of her spiritual powers and her ability to lead in a battle against the English was a remarkable achievement. Unfortunately, despite her victory, she was betrayed by the king who did nothing when she was captured and sold to the English who burned her at the stake as a heretic.

JoanOfArc

Courtesy of It’s History:

 

The Loire is known for her fierce temperament. She would flow gently among the branches of the overhanging trees, bypassing several beautiful chateaux, when suddenly and violently she would flood the area but the flood disappearing as fast as it had arrived. On the gatepost of an eighteenth-century villa, there are flood levels cut showing how high the water rose in 1840 – it was twenty-one feet. It would have filled a front room to the ceiling. A French novelist, Maurice Genevoix, who lived in the area wrote a book dedicated to the Loire.

Because of her beauty, Tours-sur-Loire are very popular. On her borders, there are many towns with hidden, known only to the locals, little old-fashioned restaurants serving excellent authentic French food.  There are also markets so colourful with fruits and vegetables of all shapes and colours that dazzle the eyes. On the lush green borders, people are picnicking and waving to passing barges. In spring, the slopes are crowded with daffodils, and in late summer with bilberries. The Loire is known for good food – Covennes hams, sausages and goat cheeses. A true picture of happiness.

“Tambourin” by François-Joseph Gossec, performed by Sir James Galway and the National Philharmonic Orchestra:

 

Bretagne, the picturesque market of Pornichet in Loire Atlantiqu

The picturesque market of Pornichet in Loire Atlantique, France.

ChateauSullyLoire

Above the Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire.

The world-famous Chartres Cathedral has stunningly beautiful stained-glass windows and has to be seen when cruising on the Loire.

Engineering the impossible (courtesy of National Geographic):

 

ChartresRose1

ChartresRose2

Courtesy of Chartres:

 

The centre of the Loire is the exact geographical centre of France. The Loire also supports the vast wine industry and has several distinctive wine regions. Grapes have been grown here for at least 2000 years. The Loire Valley is divided into three sections.

LoireValleyWines

The Upper Loire grows mainly Sauvignon Blanc, which is famed for its quality and sets the international standard for grapes. Others grown there are Pinot Noir and Pouilly Fume. The Middle Loire grows Chenin Blanc and Cabernet.

LoireValleyVineyards

The Loire Valley is famous for its natural beauty, magnificent chateaux, and rich history and culture. It is a cradle of the French language and its residents speak the purest French. The writer Rabelais who was a Renaissance man is world-famous for his satirical writing, especially his work about two giants, Gargantua and Pantagruel, published as a collective five comic novels between 1532 and 1564.

GargantuaPantagruel

Illustration from Rabelais’ famous books.

He was a local man, also a physician, monk and Greek scholar. His often-used quotes (I bet you did not know they were his! ) are: ‘Everything comes to those who can wait’, and ‘I have nothing, owe a great deal, and the rest I leave to the poor.’

RabelaisPortrait

Chinon, the land of Rabelais (courtesy of FRANCE 24 English):

 

In 1644 John Evelyn, an English novelist, and his friend, Edmund Waller, an English poet and politician, visited the Loire Valley and were very impressed by its beauty. John Evelyn is well regarded for his numerous books and his memorable quotations:

‘Friendship is beyond all relations of flesh and blood because it is less material’, and ‘Gardening is a labour full of tranquillity and satisfaction; natural and instructive, and as such contributes to the most serious contemplation, experience, health and longevity.’

JohnEvelynNPG

John Evelyn in the National Portrait Gallery.

Edmund Waller was an English poet and politician who sat in the Commons between 1624 and 1679. His memorable quote was:  ‘All human things of dearest value hang on slender strings.’

EdmundWaller

His poem ‘Old Age’ makes me think how little human emotions have changed over the centuries despite huge leaps in technology. Here is his poem:

Old Age

The seas are quiet when the winds give o’er
So calm are we when passions are no more.
For then we know how vain it was to boast
Of fleeting things, so certain to be lost.
Clouds of affection from our younger eyes
Conceal that emptiness which age descries.
The soul’s dark cottage, batter’d and decay’d,
Lets in new light through chinks that Time hath made:
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become
As they draw near to their eternal home.
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

Courtesy of maaswater15:

 

LoireRiver

As a testament to the whole region’s contribution to French and global culture, the Loire Valley (between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalomnes-sur-Loire) was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in the year 2000.

Courtesy of FRANCE 24 English:

 

LoireMap

As this week’s post is based on a river in the country of love, and with Valentines Day drawing near, it is fitting to conclude with these two classics:

“Plaisir D’Amour” by André Rieu and Battista Martini (courtesy of Sergei Egorov):

 

“L’Hymne A L’Amour” by Edith Piaf and Marguerite Monnot, performed by Chantal Chamberland (courtesy of Jade Theresa):

 

55 thoughts on “The Loire, The Great Wild River

  1. Absolutely beautiful Joanne and lovely that you named after the heroine of France, Jeanne d’Arc. The music is lovely and I’m very impressed by the beauty of the Loire Valley

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Another fabulous armchair river trip. Each better than the last.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Henrietta, for your wonderful comments! As always, I write for anyone traveling to famous for food and drinks France, although as a vegetarian and non-drinking I would sick to vegetables. I love my name, Joanna, and have several biographies of Jeanne d’Arc in my library. I am happy that you have liked the music too..

    Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for your generous comments! Perhaps, one day you might take the real trip?

    Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  5. Such a beautiful river flowing by so many wondrous castles. You mention being named after Jeanne d’Arc, you do seem to carry a heroine’s spirit, you are a Champion of Nature. The two concluding classics are lovely accompaniments to end your post on the Loire.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How do you manage to put these amazing posts together Joanna so rich in history and music with all of your added history that is so beautiful and rich. I love hearing about the Loire river and France. Love Rick Steve’s narrative and all of the men that gave so much to the history and memory of a rich culture! Thank you! 💖 and Happy Valentine’s Day to you as well! 💖💖

    Like

  7. Stunning post, Joanna! Excellent collections of photos, music, history , and nature. Such a wonderful journey. Thanks so much for sharing.💕

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you, Grace, for your lovely and so kind comments! I am so happy that you like my post!
    Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you, Cindy, for your wonderful comments! Perhaps, it is a little bit to do with all the books in my library!
    Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  10. You’re so welcome!~. Wow, truly impressive!! 💖💖😘😘

    Like

  11. Thank you, Rose, for your wonderful comments!! I love your compliment about having a small fraction of Jeanne d’Arc’s spirit and being a Champion of Nature!! Thank you!
    Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  12. La Belle France! Thank you for taking me there along that beautiful river. It is all so very lovely.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thank you so much for your kind comments! One cannot do average with La Belle France!
    Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  14. Truly a pleasure, Joanna.💕

    Like

  15. Beautiful photos!! 🤩😀

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Been to France a few times but haven’t seen this great river. My wife, I’m sure, would love to see the vineyards of the upper Loire, because she loves sauvignon blanc wines!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Thank you for letting me know! Perhaps, you could stretch your visit to a few other places of interest?

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you for your kind comment.

    Joanna

    Like

  19. Stunning pictures and very interesting descriptions.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. That drone shot of Loire river ❣️😍
    Such a beautiful river with a natural beauty and with a long intriguing history.
    Thanks for this info and the trip, Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you, Ritish, for your kind comments! Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna
    PS. I have got the book; will I get a note from Amazone to review it or is there another way?

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Thank you so much Joanna.
    We hope you enjoyed those unsung inspirational stories. I don’t think you’ll get a note from Amazon.
    I guess you have to go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09RNS7HF1
    You’ll find the option to write a review when you scroll down.

    Thanks for your incredible support, Joanna. Much appreciated ❣️

    Like

  23. Thank you, Joanna for sharing the heroic story of Jeanne d’ Arc, the real heroine of France. I’m pleased to note that you have been named after her. I’ll now always remember this linkage..

    Loire supporting wine industry reminds me of grapes and wineries of Nasik, the wine capital of India. Quotes of Rabelais and John Evelyn’s quotes on friendship and gardening are quite relatable. I also loved Edmund Waller’s poem, Old Age. I always learn something new from your post. It’s great to know that a part of Loire valley has been declared as world heritage.

    The first two videos set the tone for the rest of this lovely post. The video on Chinon is also awesome. Pics as always are marvellous. Thank you, Joanna for publishing such informative posts in an interesting way week after week. Deeply appreciated. Happy Valentine’s Day in advance!

    Like

  24. The Loire is a very photogenic river, full of châteaux restructured during the Renaissance when Tours was the capital of France. It’s always been a rich region and its gastronomy owes a lot to the cuisine imported from Italy by the Valois. It’s still considered an enviable region to live in. My river is the Garonne. Maybe you could do her sometime?

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Thank you, Kaushal, for the lovely beyond words comments! Rabelais is not know well enough by the young generation, and yet he is a terrific writer whose ideas would expand our minds.
    Thank you again, Kaushal. Greatly appreciated.
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  26. You’re always welcome!

    Like

  27. Thank you, Jane, for your lovely comments! I write about the famous French food and drinks but as a vegetarian, and non-drinker I find my excitement in the vegetables and fruits, also in their spectacular architecture. At some point, I might do a bit of research on the Garonne.

    Thank you again, Jane. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  28. What a beautiful river, Joanna, and the Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire is stunning! I also enjoyed “Old Age.” Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I enjoy your posts and the way you use different media.

    Like

  30. Thank you, Jane. I use different media because they are so effective!

    Like

  31. Thank you, Lauren, for your kind comments. French architecture always attracted me and I once waited in Paris for one hour to get to the King’s Chapel to see the stunning window.
    Thank you again, Lauren. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  32. When I return to France, I’ll make a point of visiting the Loire. Lovely images you’ve chosen and interesting history you’ve shared. Thanks, Joanna! 🌞

    Like

  33. Thank you, Lisa, for your kind comments. It is very satisfying, Lisa, when my post encourages the readers to visit the places I am writing about.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Joanna,
    My wife, Jeanne, is also named after Joan of Arc, but her parents were hoping for a boy so her middle name is Anthony, after the patron saint for the recovery of lost things. “Toni” and I have been together 42 years and she has never failed to find my various missing items – she’s a keeper. What can I say? Like most men I’m unable to find the milk jug in the fridge. I traveled the Loire River ~1975, visiting the chateaux and buying a bottle of wine at the village cask for 25 francs – about 20 cents at the time and the wine was very good! As good as your blog about the Loir R. is today.
    Thanks again for a great river trip! Stewart

    Liked by 1 person

  35. And Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Joanna.

    Like

  36. Thank you, Stewart, for your interesting additions to my post. It is good to learn something about my readers, especially how happy they are!

    Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you both.

    Joanna

    Like

  37. It is a fascinating read. It excited me. As i had no idea of how rich it made France and her culture. As other writers have pointed out and likewise i cannot go without writing about the origins of your name. We finally know.

    Your natural living connects one to the other as is evident in your writing. Filled with information that readers can carry and even flaunt as they like. Like the centre of Loire being the centre of France, who can forget something like this. Plus all the quotes that enrich us like matter of fact way.

    Your ability to construct images in and through history makes it so entertaining that nothing looks forced or explanatory. Rather all this should be a part of a book which in turn should be made available to schools worldwide, as i have often said it.

    Thank you for such a beauty. Narayan x

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Thank you, Narayan, for the wonderful words of your comments!! I cannot thank you enough for your skill in highlighting the important information in my posts. And your suggestion of turning my posts into a book makes my day!
    Thank you again, Narayan. Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna x

    Like

  39. I have been lucky enough to visit some of those places on various occasions , and your post, which is as fascinating as ever, has brought back very pleasant memories to me.

    Like

  40. Thank you, Luisa, for your generous comments! I am glad that you have enjoyed my post! Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  41. You are so welcome, Joanna. 🤗💕

    Like

  42. 🙏💙🙏💙🙏

    Like

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