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DEPARTMENT OF THE LOIRE : 42

Blason_Loire The Loire is part of Rhône Alpes. Its name comes from the river that flows through it.

History/Geography
The department was created during the French Revolution.
It is surrounded by ancient volcanic heights.
La Loire river is France’s longest river. It starts in volcanic Ardèche and flows right through to the Atlantic.

The Villerest lake was created in 1982 by the barrage (dam) de Villerest. Swimming and boating are both permitted, indeed, are encouraged.

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Malleval, village médiéval - PNR Pilat (Loire) - © RAT/C. Martelet
Climate
The winters are harsh, cold and snowy with frequent frost.The summers are hot and sunny.

What to do and see
puce Nature:
Les gorges de la Loire cut through crystalline rocks. One must be sure to make a detour and take in The château d’Essalois.
Le Parc Naturel Régional du Pilat expands over 70 000 hectares. There are 5 parts to the park to be discovered and each one is quite different:
-le Pilat Rhodanien has steep rocky slopes covered in vineyards and orchards
-the Drôme valley is famed for its goats and forests
-the high Pilat has cattle and wonderful scenic views over St-Etienne
-the central part has snow and beautiful, fertile high mountain meadows
-the Jarez is criss-crossed by stream after stream.
The Ecopôle du Forez is the largest ornithological reserve in the Rhône-Alpes region. There is also home to a thriving variety of all forms of wildlife.

puce Activities:
The Villerest lake was created in 1982 by the barrage (dam) de Villerest. It is possible to swim there or to use a boat to explore it.
An artificial lake created by the Grangent dam has seen the establishment of a wonderful leisure park with a marina, watersports and a beach.

puce Sightseeing:
There is a great religious heritage in these parts of the land though, the churches are not all in perfect condition. The villages in the north of the department are fortified.
Charlieu has a long history as home to the weaving industry. When the weavers of Lyon began to demand better working conditions the industry was partially transferred here as the workers were less demanding and so easier to deal with. Some Yves St-Laurent dresses were made here and the town is justifiably proud of its heritage.
Feurs is a beautiful Gallo-Roman town that stages very popular trotter races. The Forez plain, in this area, is a major horse-racing territory.
St-Galmier is where Badoit (the popular mineral water) is produced and it is still possible to visit the original Badoit extraction chamber.
St-Etienne is know more for its famous football team than its history, though it has a strong manufacturing industry and has had since the middle ages.
The art and industrial museum is extremely popular and gives a fascinating picture of how people lived not so very long ago.

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