Perhaps no region of France (with
the exception of Paris) is regarded as so typically French as the valley of
the Loire, the region of the magnificent châteaux. Barely two hours southwest of Paris, in the heart of the French countryside,
are the ancient provinces that border the Loire River and its tributaries. For almost two centuries, this valley was the home of French kings on
holiday, on hunting expeditions or in exile. With royal extravagance, they
introduced the spirit and style of the French Renaissance, reflected in the
splendid castles of the area. Because of the royal passion for hunting, numerous châteaux and stately
homes were constructed in this region.