France is divided into 27 regions and the region Centre has Orléans as its capital altough its largest city is Tours. The region is further divided into 6 departments or counties as shown on our map.
Centre - Val de Loire is a name associated with positive images of the Loire Valley, such as the chateaux, the gentle and refined lifestyle, wine, the mild and temperate climate. The Loire is the longest river in France and with a length of 1,012 kilometres (629 mi) it drains more than a fifth of France's land area.
The Loire Valley (Vallée de la Loire), is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France. It is referred to as the Cradle of the French Language and as the Garden of France due to the abundance of vineyards, fruit orchards and market-garden fields which line the banks of the river.
Notable for its historic towns, architecture and wines, UNESCO added the central part of the Loire River valley to its list of World Heritage Sites in 2000.
The Loire Valley is home to more than 300 châteaux built between the 10th and 20th centuries by French kings and nobility; these castles, palaces and mansions range from the very large to more 'human-scale' châteaux often with notable gardens.
But wonderful gardens are not restricted to the grounds of chateau and some superb examples are to be found in much more modest situations, or as public parks.
This site celebrates great gardens and the gardeners who have chosen this gentle part of the world to demonstrate the art and craft of garden making and plant cultivation.
These gardens and more can be visited as part of a specially tailored Loire Valley Garden tour, lead by our gardens expert Colin Elliott of the Garden Design Academy