Loire River

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The Loire (French pronunciation: [lwaʁ]; Occitan: Léger) is the longest river in France. With a length of 1,013 kilometres (629 mi), it drains an area of 117,000 km2 (45,000 sq mi), which represents more than a fifth of France's land area. It rises in the Cévennes in the département of Ardèche at 1,350 m (4,430 ft) near Mont Gerbier de Jonc, and flows for over 1,000 km (620 mi) north through Nevers to Orléans, then west through Tours and Nantes until it reaches the Bay of Biscay at St Nazaire. Its main tributaries include the Maine, Nièvre and the Erdre rivers on its right bank, and the Allier, Cher, Indre, Vienne, and the Sèvre Nantaise rivers on the left bank. The Loire gives its name to six départements: Loire, Haute-Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Indre-et-Loire, Maine-et-Loire, and Saône-et-Loire. The central part of the Loire Valley was added to the World Heritage Sites list of UNESCO on December 2, 2000. The banks are characterized by vineyards and chateaux in the Loire Valley.

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Name

The name "Loire" comes from Latin Liger, which is itself a transcription of the native Gaulish (Celtic) name of the river. The Gaulish name comes from the Gaulish word liga, which means "silt, sediment, deposit, alluvium", a word that gave French lie, as in sur lie, which in turn gave English lees. Liga comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *legh-, meaning "to lie, lay", which gave many words in English, such as to lie, to lay, ledge, law, etc.

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