The Loire rises in Mont Gerbier de Jonc, in the range of the Vivarais mountains, flows due north to Nevers, then turns to the north-west as far as Orleans, in the neighborhood of which it separates the marshy region of the Sologne (~.v.) on the south from the wheat-growing region of Beauce and the Gtinais on the north.
For the production of wheat, in respect of which France is self-supporting, French Flanders, the Seine basin, notably the Beauce and the Brie, and the regions bordering on the lower course of the Loire and the upper course of the Garonne, are the chief areas.
The Perche in the southwest and the Thimerais in the north-west are districts of hills and valleys, woods, lakes and streams. The region of the east and south is a level and uniform expanse, consisting for the most part of the riverless but fertile plain of Beauce, sometimes called the "granary of France."
To the south-east stretches the fruitful plain of Beauce, "the granary of France," of which the town is the commercial centre.
Its trade is carried on chiefly on market-days, when the peasants of the Beauce bring their crops and live-stock to be sold and make their purchases.
During the middle ages it was the chief town of the district of Beauce, and gave its name to a countship which was held by the counts of Blois and Champagne and afterwards by the house of Chatillon, a member of which in 1286 sold it to the crown.
The Beauce is a treeless, arid and monotonous plain of limestone formation; windmills and church spires are the only prominent features of the landscape.
The inhabitants live in large villages, and are occupied in agriculture, particularly in the cultivation of wheat, for which the Beauce is celebrated.
The town is a market for the agricultural and pastoral regions of Beauce and Sologne, and has a considerable trade in grain, the wines of the Loire valley, and in horses and other live-stock.