The River Loire, the longest river in France with a length of just over 1000 km, drains an area of 117,000 km², more than a fifth of France.
Originating in the north-eastern part of the southern Cévennes highlands, it flows roughly northward through Roanne and Nevers to Orléans and thereafter westward through Tours to the Atlantic at Nantes. The river's irregularity has sometimes resulted in serious flooding, notably in 1856, 1866 and 1910.
The Loire is the last free-flowing river in Europe. Unlike any other river in western Europe, other than in the far north, there are no dams or locks creating obstacles to its natural flow. As a result, the Loire is a very popular river for boating excusions, flowing through a pastoral countryside, past limestone cliffs and storybook castles.
See also: Loire Valley