The Loire River, France's longest river, flows near Le Puy-en-Velay, so one bright Sunday afternoon, Eluiza and I went to see it. What we found was quite astonishing.
The ruins of a Roman bridge proudly stands on the Loire in the town of Brives-Charensac. On the east side of the river (foreground), lies the old Roman road to Lyon.
The Romans ruled France for more than 500 years starting in 121 B.C.E. Gaul became part of the Roman empire when Julius Caesar defeated Vercingetorix in 52 B.C.E during the Gallic Wars (58-51 B.C.E.).
This view of the bridge shows a cross-section of its interior and its base: boulders cemented together.
Here is another view of the bridge's base on the west side of the river. A more modern 18th century bridge stands downstream. It is still used today.
The Loire flows downstream with a long view of the 18th century bridge and a riverwalk.
Upstream, the Loire is framed by the rolling hills of the Haute Loire region.
Further upstream still is a small dam. Dams on the Loire have been a controversial issue since many people want to keep the Loire in its most natural state. According to the National Academic Quiz Tournaments:
"The Loire is sometimes called the 'last wild river in Western Europe,' and many proposed dams on the river have not been built because of opposition to the flooding of land and to interference with Atlantic salmon. The Loire Valley is particularly known for its vineyards and for its châteaux, a collection of over 300 castles dating to the 16th and 17th centuries."
A riverwalk with trees, grass and a 12-foot retaining wall contribute to flood control.
The stone wall adds both protection and beauty for a small neighborhood (on the right).
A Little Bit on the Loire
The Loire begins its 1,012 km (628.8 miles) journey to the Atlantic Ocean in the southern Massif Central of southeast France. It flows north and west and empties just south of Brittany.
Covering more than a fifth of France's land area, the Loire flows through Nevers, Orleans, Blois, Tours, and Nantes.
Its major tributary is the Allier, which joins the Loire at Le Bec d'Allier. The Borne River, which flows near the International Centre, is a tributary or rivière to the Loire. The Loire is called a fleuve since it ends up in the sea.
Other major French rivers include:
Rhône--812 km (504.6 miles) a fleuve to Mediterranean Sea
Seine--776 km (482.2 miles) a fleuve to Atlantic Ocean
Saône--480 km (298.2) a rivière to the Rhône
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Another view of the Loire's origins.