Loire Valley Nature is designed to be used as an English language natural history web resource for lowland central France. It uses Blogger software for its easy accessibility, but it is not written as a blog ie as a periodical record of events or thoughts like a diary. Pages can be added or updated at any time.
The website comprises different types of pages, which form a network, linking one to another so you can drill down to the specific information you need. Please note that we have deliberately chosen to open all links and photos in a new page, so if you find this annoying or confusing, please just get into the habit of closing each page as you exit. We decided to go with new pages for everything because otherwise it can be difficult finding a page from earlier in your research, and in identifying species, you often have to compare information and photos on different species account pages. The back page function can be used, but can also be confusing.
Why is the website called Loire Valley Nature, when in fact, the area it is concerned with does not actually cover the entire Loire Valley?
We decided to call it Loire Valley Nature because we felt it was a name people not so familiar with the area might search for. Strictly speaking, the area covered is the Touraine, Berry and part of Poitou, or the modern administrative départments of Indre (36), Indre et Loire (37) and Vienne (86), but these are names not all of our readers may know. The website covers an area which is within the central southern boundaries of the Loire Valley in its broadest sense, ie all the rivers within the area are tributaries of the Loire and feeding into the Loire Valley system. The three départements together make up a total area of 20 000 km². In Australian terms, this is ten times the Australian Capital Territory, or one-tenth the size of Victoria. In British terms, it's the same size as Wales. Scattered across the area are many small villages and towns but the only city with a population over 100 000 is Tours. Within this area the main focus is on the relatively well known wetland of the Brenne and the half of the Touraine that is south of the Loire, a triangle between Chinon in the west, Chambord in the east and Loches in the south. In particular there is a lot of information about the Claise valley, as that is where we live.
Geologically, we are on the southern edge of the Paris Basin, just before the land starts to rise into the Massif Central. This is lowland central France, mostly less than 100 metres above sea level (masl). The area is situated in the heart of western Europe, but is home to a surprisingly high level of biodiversity and many rarities due to its position on the northern and eastern edge of the range of Mediterranean, Turkish and Iberian species and similarly, it is on the southern edge of the range of northern European species.
The soil is mostly calcareous, often with a high clay content, but there are pockets of sand. The land is used for broadacre farming with many mixed farms and large areas of woodland, both deciduous broadleaf and conifer. The riparian and wetland habitats are of international importance, with numerous rivers and streams. Of particular note are the many man-made fish lakes, known as étangs, forming the Brenne, France's third most important wetland (after the Camargue and the Marais Poitevin). Less well known are the dry limestone butts, called éperons, which host a noteworthy assemblage of plants, including many orchids, adapted to very calcareous soils. There are also remnant pockets of heathland.
The most useful general guide to the area is the Crossbill Guide to the Loire Valley, reviewed by us here.
If you are interested in other aspects of the Loire Valley, Brenne and Touraine, you might like to read our daily blog, Days on the Claise or book an excursion with Loire Valley Time Travel. To see our range of nature walks and workshops, please click on the page tab above. You can email us by clicking on our profile links to the right. Please note that we always respond to emails within 48 hours, so if you do not get a response, please check your spam folder or get in touch via the Loire Valley Time Travel contact page.