The middle of this region is characterised by the low-lying valleys of the river Loire and its tributaries. This area was very popular with the kings of France and their dukes and is rich with magnificent châteaux – notably the most famous of the â€˜Chateaux de la Loireâ€™ such as Chambord, Azay-le-Rideau, Blois or Chenonceaux. Between Orleans, Blois and Vierzon lies a vastÂ area of forest and heath land known as La Sologne, once the favoured hunting grounds of the nobility, and today popular with hunters, nature-lovers and hikers. The Loire valley is also characterised by a number of vineyards, producing mainly white wines, including the sparkling whites of Touraine and Vouvray. Among other famous vineyard areas are Pouilly-Fumé, Â Sancerre and ValenÃ§ay.