Pays de la Loire is one of the 27 regions of France. It is one of the regions created in the late 20th century to serve as a zone of influence for its capital, Nantes, one of a handful so-called "balancing metropolises". Other examples of "artificially created" regions include Rhone-Alpes, which was created as the region for Lyon, and Midi-Pyrenees, which was created as the region for Toulouse.
Consequently, the name of the region, chosen by the French central government, was not based on history, but purely on geographical references: Pays (i.e. "lands") de la Loire (i.e. "of the Loire River"). However, the majority of the famous châteaux of the Loire Valley are located in the Centre region, and not inside Pays de la Loire, despite the confusing name. The Pays de la Loire present many great monuments as the castles of Angers, Laval, Mayenne and the Nantes "Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne", the Royal Fontevraud Abbey, the old city of Le Mans, and also many natural parks such as the Briere and the Marsh of Poitou.