Feature: On the Trail of Artists & Writers

While the intrigue and high jinks of France's royals get top billing in the Loire, the valley has also played host to a stream of Europe's greatest artists and thinkers. Mathematician and philosopher René Descartes, poet Pierre de Ronsard and writer and Renaissance man François Rabelais were all born in the Loire; Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life here; and luminaries from sculptor Alexander Calder to novelist Honoré de Balzac lived and created in this region. Then there were those, like Alexandre Dumas, who were simply inspired here.