Oz's introduction to the Loire section:
'I sometimes wonder whether the Loire River is just too long for its own good. It starts brightly enough, cascading and splashing out of the Ardèche gorges only 50km (31 miles) west of the Rhône at Valence full of purpose and vivacity. But by the time the river gets to Pouilly and Sancerre, sites of its first world famous wines, the initial breezy seaward flow has slowed to a walk. As the river makes its great arc northwards to Orléans past the haunting Sologne marshes, and then loops wearily south and west, through Blois, Tours, Angers, Nantes and finally to the Atlantic at St-Nazaire, the walk slows to an amble, the motion of the water so listless that the valley seems caught in a reverie, completely unconcerned about reaching its destination on the turbulent shores of the Bay of Biscay. Great gravel banks push through the river's surface, children paddle in the shallows, parents picnic and gossip on the warm pebbles. It doesn't seem as though the lazy summer Loire has the character to be a wine river, home of some of the most thrilling and individual wines in France.'
Although it is true that the Loire can appear lazy and benign, it can actually be very dangerous because of its current and constantly shifting sand banks. Because of these dangers swimming in the Loire is banned in a number of places including Amboise and Tours. I have great respect for Oz but this flight of fancy is dangerous nonsense. At the very least there should be a warning of the dangers the Loire can pose.
There are frequent warnings in the local media about the danger of bathing in the Loire – see below: