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PEDALLING AND PADDLING THE LOIRE


                                                                                        THE INFANT LOIRE



THE LECTURE

At 1020 kms in length, the Loire is France's longest river, rising in the Cevennes at Gerbier de Jonc at 1350 metres above sea level, and joining the Atlantic at St Nazaire.
 Most guide books on the river only cover the 500 kilometres between Gien and Nantes - 'chateau country', and the UNESCO World Heritage Site covers 280 kms between Sully (upstream of Orleans) to Chalonnes, just west of Angers. Wonderful though this area is with its chateaux, villages, beautiful towns and vineyards, that still leaves a lot of the river that is often ignored.
In 2011 John cycled from the mouth of the river to the source, and then on to Avignon. On other trips he has also canoed most of the river upstream of Orleans.
This lecture will cover the history, wildlife, the Loire as an important waterway, and man's attempts to control the river. How did so many chateaux get built in such a small area, and what were the logistics of getting materials and labour to so many lengthy building projects? Why did these ostentatious buildings, so redolent of wealth and privilege, survive the Revolution? Why were so many historic Loire towns bombed so heavily in World War 2? Why is Richard the Lionheart buried in Fontrevaud Abbey? Why did the French themselves hand Joan of Arc over to the English? And much more.
From the massive 'U Boat' pens of St Nazaire to the mountain scenery of the Massif Central, John will take you on a leisurely meander along the river with visits to chateaux, vineyards, following giant levees built to reclaim land from the wild river, and canals built to make it safer for vessels to carry goods to the upper sections. Then we pass through gorges carved by the young river, and climb to the source through striking volcanic scenery where Robert Louis Stevenson walked with his donkey Modestine in 1878.

Illustrated with excellent photos.




GERBIER DE JONC - THE SOURCE



                                                                          A VILLAGE NEAR THE SOURCE


                                                                                        LE PUY EN VELAY

                                                                                     
                                                                                                GIEN


                                                                                           JOAN OF ARC





                                                                ' TROGLODYTE' HOUSE IN THE CLIFF




U BOAT PENS IN ST NAZAIRE


JOURNEYS END AT THE ATLANTIC




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