A voyage of discovery in Pays-de-la-Loire
Situated between the regions of Centre and Brittany, the Pays-de-la-Loire region straddles land and sea. It is a region where INTER-HOTEL has some twenty hotels, suited to all types of stay, whether you are on business or on holiday, with your partner or the whole family, away for the weekend or enjoying a longer trip.
There is something for everyone in this beautiful region where life is lived at a more relaxed pace. Since 2009, Charlotte and François Chovet have managed the INTER-HOTEL de Londres Hôtel & Appartements, a 3-star hotel in Saumur, Maine-et-Loire. A successful change of career for this former automotive engineer and career advisor, originally from Ardèche and Alsace. "We wanted to make the move to this profession for many years. We wanted to experience the pleasure of providing a warm welcome and great service to guests. After spending 6 years in Angers, we knew the region well, and when we were offered this hotel, which was built in 1837, right in the heart of Saumur, we jumped at the chance. We had found exactly what we were looking for," says the couple proudly.
Charlotte and François Chovet
When people ask them what they love about their region, Charlotte and François are all too happy to give their opinion. "The region's five departments are arranged around the Loire Valley and offer our visitors a whole range of stunning landscapes and a wealth of cultural and fun tourist attractions, something for children and adults alike. Of course, we are very fond of the Val-de-Loire, France's largest natural site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which extends from Saumur to Angers".
You actually need to drift slowly down this wild river to discover what makes this part of the Loire so special. The region is also famous for its many parks and gardens. In fact, it is the birthplace of formal gardens. During your stay, wonder at the diversity of the troglodyte dwellings around Doué-la-Fontaine. Its superb zoo will take you from the canyon of the leopards to the great valley of the black rhino, and has a restaurant with unbroken views of the valley of the giraffes. A stone's throw from here, make sure you visit the tree-filled Parc des Chemins de la Rose.
Maine-et-Loire is also the department of the beautiful town of Beaupréau with its many viewpoints where you can look out over the fields as far as the eye can see. A visit to the Notre-Dame-de-Beaupréau church or La Pommeraye will give you the chance to discover the incredible stained glass windows that tell the story of France. The town of Cholet, where the textile industry is a secular activity dating back to the 12th century, is proud of its heritage. Discover the amazing history of the "Cholet handkerchief" and its textile museum, and shopaholics will not be able to resist the "Circuit des Marques", a collection of 25 factory outlets offering discounts all year round.
Continue your journey down the Loire, as people once did when this river was one of the country's main trade routes, to Loire-Atlantique. Nantes and the neighbouring towns of Orvault, Boufferé and Carquefou provide a warm welcome and will serve as a stepping stone for visiting the superb city of La Baule, famous for its fine sandy beaches, its casinos and its thalassotherapy centres.
> Ducs de Bretagne castle in Nantes
But Nantes, the city of the Dukes of France, is also the nearest big city to the surprising town of Saint-Nazaire, nicknamed the California of Brittany, a truly international port. During your visit, get behind the scenes at the shipyard, where some of the most beautiful transatlantic liners, like the Normandie, the France and the Queen Mary 2, originated. Famous names that evoke luxury, excess and fascination. Sail away on the Escal'Atlantic, a reconstruction of the liner, and experience the splendour of these giantesses of the sea. Dive into the atmosphere of a submarine, the Espadon, one of a kind as the only submarine still afloat that is open to visitors. It was the first submarine to make a stopover inside the Arctic circle.
A little further south, you get to Vendée. Make sure you stop off in Sables-d'Olonne, a resort internationally renowned for the legendary Vendée Globe single-handed yacht race. Take a stroll along the Remblai, a promenade that runs alongside the beach, or through Ile Penotte, a picturesque neighbourhood in the town centre with frontages decorated in mosaics made up of multicoloured shells. To the east, La Verrie, a town near Les Herbiers, will charm you with its picturesque setting, its winding roads, its steep hills and its paths full of flowers and aromas.
Further inland, the town of La-Roche-sur-Yon proudly boasts the signs of a glorious past. It was chosen as the administrative centre by Napoleon, who decided right after the French Revolution to rebuild the town as a symbol of pacification and economic renewal. And what a success! To discover the town's rich heritage, follow the Circuit Napoléon tourist route. Make the most of your stay in Vendée and visit the Parc du Puy du Fou, with its incredible shows, night and day. Lastly, further inland still, during a walk in the Pays de Chantonnay, wine lovers will be able to savour the region's "still and sparkling" wines.
On the other side, to the north of the Loire, are two departments that are great for nature and sports. Sarthe is, of course, known internationally for the famous Le Mans 24 Hour race circuit near to the town of Saint-Saturnin. Stay in the town of Le Mans and discover its beautiful historic centre and the "La Nuit des Chimères" festival, which promotes its magnificent heritage. Last but not least, Mayenne, the final department in the Pays-de-la-Loire region, is known for its "nature" and the dynamism of its "historic capital", Laval, which extends as far as the town of Vaiges. Considered to be one of the most beautiful detours in France, Château-Gontier promises remarkable heritage and a recognised quality of life. "The region truly makes you want to take your time," adds Charlotte Chovet. "There is this fantastic quietness, a great opportunity to pause in our hectic lives. This is evident when you meet the friendly locals. It's no coincidence that the "Loire à Vélo" trail, with its 300 miles of cycle paths along the Loire, has been so successful". "We are so lucky to have such authentic scenery," adds her husband, François. "The white Tuffeau stone, which characterises the Loire Châteaux and the buildings, reflects the light beautifully in many spots".
The Pays-de-la-Loire region is a brilliant region, which will no doubt enchant you, whether you are here for just a short visit, spending a relaxing weekend in the countryside or getting away from it all to see the sights and take part in sporting activities. Whichever you prefer, land or sea, the region has exactly what you are looking for.