The Loire is the longest river in France. With a length of 1,012 kilometres (629 mi), it drains an area of 117,054 km2 (45,195 sq mi), which represents more than a fifth of France's land area. It is the 170th longest river in the world. 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.