loire

Looking at the wide range of literature, art and architecture created along this longest river in France, the author considers work that ranges from Du Bellay and Balzac to Virginia Woolf, from Renaissance palace builders to Le Corbusier.

The Loire

A Cultural History

Martin Garrett

Gustave Flaubert called the Loire ‘the most French of French rivers’. It is the longest river in France and the most varied in scenery and moods. Beginning as a mountain stream in the Ardeche, it issues, 630 miles later, into the Atlantic beyond the great modern port of St.-Nazaire. Small and rapid at first, the Loire runs through dark volcanic hills; further downstream it becomes the broad, slower river of sandy islands, poplars and châteaux and of the vibrant cities of Orleans, Blois, Tours and Nantes (the former capital of Brittany). It is lined with vineyards, forests, medieval fortresses and flamboyant Renaissance palaces. And it is fed by countless tributaries, from rivulets to mighty rivers like the Allier, Cher and Vienne, each with their own remarkable sights. Martin Garrett follows the Loire’s course through cities and countryside, tracing its dramatic history from the days of feuding warlords and barons to the battles of 1940. Looking at the wide range of literature, art and architecture created along its banks, he considers work that ranges from Du Bellay and Balzac to Virginia Woolf, from Renaissance palace builders to Le Corbusier. LOIRE CHATEAUX AND HISTORY: the Plantagenets; Joan of Arc; the ‘springing lightness’ of Chenonceau (Henry James); the ‘great bastioned rock’ of Amboise (Oscar Wilde). LOIRE WATERS AND LANDSCAPES: tributaries and canals, boats and ‘unexplodable’ steamers; vineyards, forests, wetlands, mountains; the wildlife-rich Sologne and the fertile Beauce. LOIRE LITERATURE; courtly Ronsard and outrageous Rabelais; Eugénie Grandet and Le Grand Meaulnes; Zola and Simenon; Henry James and Edith Wharton.

Martin Garrett is the author of three other books published by Signal, on Venice, Cambridge and Provence. He has also written widely on Renaissance and Romantic literature.

Landscapes of the Imagination Series

£12.00 paperback

Buy now

2010
256pages, 30 b&w illus
ISBN: 9781904955672