Explore the Magnificent Loire Valley Castles in France!
by Youliana Veltcheva
December 30, 2019
The Loire Valley in France features over 100 castles, stretching over 200 kilometers along the banks of river Loire between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes. The area boasts not only gorgeous castles and beautiful river landscape, but also a typical French cuisine and a diversity of grape wines, produced by small organic vineyards. Surrounded by forests, full of wild animals, the location of the chateaux is perfect for hunting - one of the favorite hobbies of the medieval kings. This amazing area of France allows the visitor to be immersed in the Renaissance architecture and lavish interior design and experience the glamour of life of the medieval kings and queens.
The castles in the Loire Valley are one of France’s must-see attractions. Each of them has its own unique feel and characteristics that sets it apart from all the rest. The castles that get most popularity with tourists and are definitely worth a visit are:
1. Chateau de Chenonceau is built in the river Cher and spans the whole bridge itself. it has gained the nickname “Le Chateau des Dames” as it was ruled first by King Henry II’s mistress Diane de Poitieres and then by his widow Catherine de Medici.This elegant chateau has an interesting destiny: to be loved, governed, and maintained by powerful women throughout hardship and peace. Exploring the Galerie de Medicis, one cannot be indifferent to the fascinating story of the women who ruled this place. An audio-guide that has a version for adults and kids in several languages adds to an unforgettable memory.
2. Chateau de Chambord is built in the largest enclosed forest area in Europe is the largest and most visited chateau in the area, celebrating its 500 years anniversity in 2019. A great way for learning about this amazing place is to follow the virtual-reality histopad that is created in 12 languages with a version for kids and adults take on a journey to explore your imagination.The castle features the famous double helix staircase in the central part of the building and a monumental 426 rooms, 60 of which presented for visitors to see. Equally impressive and grand are the French gardens, which are as big as inner Paris.
3. Chateau de Azay-le-Rideau is built on an island with majestic Renaissance style turrets. With a beautiful mirror reflection, the chateau is very picturesque, surrounded by a beautiful park featuring sequoias,cypresses, cedars and ginkgos from Asia. The magical setting and the well-staged and preserved interior of the castle is definitely worth a visit.
4. Chateau de Villandry is surrounded by remarkable French gardens, layered on 4 different heights and has 6 beautiful themed gardens, including a vegetable garden. Known as “the Garden of France”, Loire Valley and in particular Villandry is an example of how the effort to build beautiful castles was matched by an equal amount of work and inspiration to create and maintain marvelous gardens to please the eye.
5. Chateau de Amboise has the most beautiful view of the Loire Valley and was one of Leonardo da Vinci’s favorite castles that he loved so much that asked to be buried there. Leonardo'd tomb is located in the gothic chapel, dedicated to St. Hubert. Another interesting fact about Ambois is the incredible sound and light show that is put on every summer from June to August with over 400 actors, re-inacting the story of the chateau.
6. Chateau de Cheverny is the most richly furnished and lavishly decorated castle. It has been owned by the same family for more than six hundred years. Cheverny was built in the 17th century in a French classical style in the middle of a majestic 100 hectar botanical park. The castle remained unaltered since the time it was originally built. Its immaculate classical lines paired with luxurious interior gives Chateau de Cheverny its magnetic appeal that draws thousands of tourists year round.
7. Chateau de Clos Luce is the castle where Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last 3 years of his life and features a museum with many working models of Da Vinci's designs.Visitors can see Da Vinci’s bedroom, kitchen and study and many of his models and artefacts and some amazing life-sized models, displayed in the garden. The dark room next to the workshop will surprise you with an incredible audio-visual production, in which you will meet a life-size hologram of Leonardo da Vinci. A peculiar and interesting sight is the tunnel, built between Chateau Ambois and chateau Clos Luce by Francois I so that he can effortlessly and discreetly come and visit Leonardo, whose company he really enjoyed.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Here are some adorable and less known chateaux, which even though smaller, will give you equally memorable experience and could be more enjoyable as they are far less crowded.
8. Chateau de l’Islette is just a couple of kilometers down the river from chateau Azay-le-Rideau. You can enjoy a walk in this beautiful chateau,a boat trip, a picnic outdoors, loaner dress up costumes. It even has a petting zoo and a playground for the kids to enjoy.
9. Chateau de Beauregard is a beautiful historic chateau, which features an enormous portraits gallery with over 300 portraits of some important historical figures of France and Europe.
10. Chateau de Troussay is the smallest but incredibly charming chateau in the area. It offers guided tours, wine tastings or simply the opportunity to picnic in the beautifully maintained property with a locally grown produce that you can buy in the shop inside.
11. Chateau de Montressor was built at the end of 15th century. The castle has an interesting history, part of which with slavic origins, as the Polish count Xavier Branicki has left his mark with an impressive spiral mahogany staircase, fascinating artwork, collected objects, elaborate interior furniture and decorative elements. Even though not very popular, this chateau has a lot to offer to its visitors, as well as a more personable feel.
View full map here: Map of Loire Valley Castles
When is the best time to visit the chateaux in Loire Valley?
Spring and summer are the times when these castles are mostly visited, but millions of visitors come throughout the year. The castles feature many festivals that are fun for visitors. Chateau Clos Luce features European Renaissance music festival in September, while Chambord organizes a festival in June/July. Villandry sets itself apart with its festival “The nights of a thousand lights” on 3/4th of July and 7/8th of August, in which over 2000 candle lights lit up at night time as shows, fireworks, costumes, wall-projections leave an unforgettable memory. Christmas time is especially enchanting as the chateaux dress up festive for the holidays, magically lit up at nightfall and fun filled with Christmas workshops, markets, concerts, special story-telling, and a miriyad of activities that keeps the whole family entertained. If you are travelling with little kids don’t overlook this time of year for planning a visit to the Loire.
Interested in a private tour of the Loire Valley Chateaux?
Travel Planner Independent is a local tour company that specializes in organizing day trips around Paris and gives you the incredible experience to meet a local guide whom you can trust to take care of all planning, transportation arrangements, meals and offer exclusive experiences that you might not have even imagined, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy your vacation without a single worry.
Tours are offered as private day trips for tourists and their family and close friends rather than larger tour groups so you can feel a little more comfortable and know that we want you to be completely satisfied with your experience. People who are visiting Paris, staying at a local hotel, have the opportunity to see and explore so much more than just the french capital. Thanks to the high speed train (TGV), visitors can get to incredibly beautiful areas in France in just an hour or two from Paris and plan a day trip without the need for an overnight stay. Your independent spirit could take you on a journey to explore the gorgeous Loire Valley castles, or the world-famous Burgundy, known for some of the most prestigious and expensive wines, the majestic Mont Saint Michel or the most-visited pilgrimage center Lourdes, known for its healing power and many more of France’s most revered attractions.
Your local guide can pick you up from your hotel and arrange your whole travel experience to your liking and preference. Treat yourself to the very best as you optimize your time and take advantage of the incredible opportunity to see a whole lot in a short amount of time.
Don’t hesitate! Plan a visit and experience a day in the life of the medieval French kings. Imagine what it was like to have lived in the past. Stroll along the staircase of finely decorated castles, take a walk in the lavish French gardens, enjoy the view of the beautiful countryside and river banks and end your day sipping a glass of wine from a local organic winery! To book a trip to the Loire Valley Castles, click here.