french castles

Travel Guide: Fabulous Castles of Loire Valley

Elegant landmark of France Loire Valley streches at 280 km at the places that only can be imagined. Loire Valley is not only about castles, it’s the cultural abundance where historic towns and wine fields are located.

With more than 300 castles Loire Valley is a wonder of charm where paradise gardens merge with the unique architecture. Loire Valley enriches the shores of river with botanical treasure, that’s way it’s called the Garden of France. The central park of Loire Valley is announced as UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.

Castles are the most impresive signs of history, fairy-tale world which splendor enchants by the art that belongs to dreams. Lovely towns of Amboise, Orleans, Tours or Anger nestled the roots of this historical treasure and richness of castles in France.

What are the most amazing castles to visit?

Château of Chambord

Château of Chambord is the most visited castle, the largest one that simply fascinates ever since it was built in 1519. by Francois I. Originally served as a hunting lodge this place with more than 400 rooms imspired through centuries as the symbol of power.

Chateau de Chambord, Loire Valley
Chateau de Chambord, Loire Valley- photo by Lonely Planet

Easily reachable as a day trip from Paris within only 2 hours or by visiting Blois in only 25 minutes Château of Chambord is definitely unavoidable. Its renaissance shine is recognizable by the impressive towers and the most hidden details of the glorious architecture. The diversity of tower style brings the castle an iconic rooftop terrace where the stone artwork plays with the carvings and columns.

The blend of French and Italian style can be signed to the italian architect Domenico da Cortona inspired by Leonardo da Vinci.

The double spyral staircase is the most famous corner of the castle influenced by Leonardo da Vinci. Conecting the three floors it’s the magic of illusion as the ascend is possible without meeting anyone who descends.

Tapestry collection which represents king’s hunting life enlighten each visit.

Salamanders at the stone ceilings are choosen as the symbol of the castle as more than 800 of them decorate the main hall.

Encircled by the park huge almost as Paris the whole castle is lost in the distance within numerous walking trails. Wild life picks up the scene with the deers, bors or native french plants.

Exquisite Hotel Relais de Chambord just across the castle is equipped with 55 rooms to deepen the ancient feelings.

Château d’Ussé

The stunning castle overlooking the Indre and Loire valley near the town of Chinon is one of the most fascinating in the region. Its fairy-tale appearance transformed it into a real tale The Sleeping Beauty written by Charles Perault.

Built in 15. century for Buiel family it changed the landlords many times but remained the privately owned property. Once upon a time it was only a small fortress but now marvellously designed place filled with elegant tapestry and paintings.

Chateau d'Usse, Loire Valley
Chateau d’Usse, Loire Valley- photo by Loire Valley Chateaux

Amazing gardens dressed up in the fountains and bed of flowers cover also the picturesque bridges and greenhouse. Little chappel hidden in the gardens is dedicated to St. Anne d’Usse. The stunning architectural details uplift the charm of the castle.

To enter the world of Sleeping Beauty dungeon will take you into the scenery of costumes and stories, the most authentic part of the castle.

Château of Sully-sur-Loire

Designed in 14. century for the duke of Sully this medieval fortress picturesquely moats from the water. Built originally on the three islands between the rivers Loire and Sange its towers speak of the history.

Its defensive purpose developed the luxurious Renessaince style maintaining many architectural changements. These changements were specially vigorous during the 18. century when several buildings were replaced by new ones.

Chateau of Sully-sur-Loire, Loire Valley
Chateau of Sully-sur-Loire, Loire Valley- photo by 1001 Chateaux

The castle was pretty damaged in the Second World War even if it’s listed as Historic Monument in 1928. Its main transition happens 1967. when it becomes owned by Loiret department.

Nowadays the castle hosts numeral events including the classical music festival in June.

Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau is one of the most visited and majestic castles of Loire Valley. Nestled upon the river Cher near the small village of Chenonceaux this fabulous castle pulls its traces in the 16. century when it was just an old mill. Nicknamed as „Ladies chateau“ it carries the style and property of only women.

Château de Chenonceau & river Cher, Loire Valley
Château de Chenonceau & river Cher, Loire Valley- photo by Detours en France

Marques Tower, a separate tower lies just across the main castle which stretches over the bridge.

Catherine Briconnet was the first lady who inspired the building together with her husband Thoma Bohier. The first staircase built in France was initiated by Catherine.

After coming in the hands of Diane de Poitiers the charm of the castle was contributed by adding the gardens and bridge. Catherine de Medici was another successor who built the gallery and grand ballroom above the bridge.

In 1913. castle becomes the ownership of the Meiner family known as the chocolate producers. The castle regained its glory after being damaged in the Second World War.

The small chappel delights with the exquisite stained glass windows.

Thousands colours of the gardens are being displayed to the creativity of the Floral Workshop particularly coming alive during the Christmas time.

Château de Villandry

The stunning beauty of Villandry castle touches the exquisite french gardens as its famous landmark. Located near the town of Tours the castle plays its renaissance melody all the way from 16. century.

Specially impressive are the views from the rooftop where amazement of stunning herbal colours is sufficient reason to visit. Playing in the maze is one of the stunning games children can find pretty entertaining so it’s definitely family friendly castle.

Chateau de Villandry, Loire Valley
Chateau de Villandry, Loire Valley- photo by Introducing Paris

Hundreds of ornaments shaped in the Ornament garden transcend the amazing design including the heart haped bushes.

Once a medieval fortress built for the defense purpose the castle developed focusing on garden style. Water garden, ornamental garden and vegetable garden create the fantastic schema of botanical beauty.

The final touch of gardens owes its existance to the scientist Joachim Carvallo starting in 1906.

Château de Saumur

Nestled in the town of Saumur above the Loire river the castle is interwined with stunning views and magic architecture. Already in 10. century it pulls its origin but after being ruined in 1067. it becomes renovated again under the hands of Henry II of England.

Chateau de Samur, Loire Valley
Chateau de Samur, Loire Valley- photo by Valdeloire-France

Standing on the rock above the town magnifiscient views to the Loire river float with wonder. Once even a prison, army barracks in 17. century and residence of the nobles, nowadays it hosts several museums: Museum of horses, Museum of decorative arts and Toy museum.
Its fairy-tale world matches with the medieval towers, various animal sculptures and impressive interior filled with decorative ceramics and tapestries.

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau

Its stunning appearance on the water creates the magic illusion as it stands on the island in the Indre river. Located in the town of Azay-le-Rideau 24 km from Tours the castle represents the early Renaissance of France.

Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau, Loire Valley
Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau, Loire Valley- photo by Touraine Loire Valley

Never serving as royal residence its initial purpose was defensive. After the building process was abandonded few times the castle got its final shape in 19. century. The turrets added then were major resemblance of fairy-tale.

Its italian style touches the interior with the beautiful staircase and rich decor. The relaxing gardens are decorated in the English style. The romantic alleys encircling the castle makes it pretty relaxing and motivating reason to visit.

Château de Chaumont

This fairy-tale castle announced a historic monument in 1840. pulls its roots in the 10. century. The Amboise family took the property for over 500 years when it gets in the hands of Catherine de Medici in 1550. without any significant changes. Diane de Poitiers created the current shape including Saint-Nicolas tower and towered entrance. In 1875. Marie Charlotte Constance Say additional Rennassaince charm until it finally becomes the property of the county in 1938.

Chateau de Chaumont, Loire Valley
Chateau de Chaumont, Loire Valley- photo by Bloischambord

Museum that is now settled inside organizes every year the Garden Festival during few months from April till November in the english style. Renowned artists create the original artwork filled with emotions. Fabulous views of the Loire river and the town of the same name dictated the life of castle.

The entire castle is decorated with exquisite art exhibitions and spirit of Marie Say. The castle has served as accomodation to famous guests among which Nostradamus and Benjamin Franklin. In 18. century the glass factory dominated its role.

Centre for Arts and Nature enlightens the significance of the castle from 2008.

Château de Cheverny

Located 14 km from Blois this elegant edifice knows the way of simetry. The Vibraye family that lived here for centuries shaped its elegant furniture and style ever since the early 17. century.

Chateau de Cheverny, Loire Valley
Chateau de Cheverny, Loire Valley- photo by Valdeloire-France

Amazing dinning room is painted according to the scenery of the stories from Don Quixote. Greek mithology is the main topic of the tapestries and ceilings murals. Children’s playroom transfers back into the time of Napoleon III with its lovely toys.

Owned by the Hurault family the castlewas never under the influence of Renaissance.

The orangery played a main role in the Second World War and now it’s just a pretty, relaxing place.

The Adventures of Tintin comic books used the appeancce of the castle as its fantastic background. The permanent exhibition attracts the numerous fans and visitors.

Château de Blois

Chateau Royal de Blois is placed at the centre of Blois town filled with historic panorama of royal life. Its construction started in the 13. century and ended in 17. century. This large castle with more than 500 rooms and 75 staircases is known as prestigious accomodation of the celebrities of the time.

Chateau de Blois, Loire Valley
Chateau de Blois, Loire Valley- photo by Blois.fr

Chateau de Blois displays the development of french architecture through the centuries. The four architectural styles include:

  • Medieval fortress from the 13. century where the large royal hall took the main purpose;
  • The Louis XII Gothic wing influenced by the italian style and numerous galleries. It represents the main entrance of the castle.
  • The Francois I Renaissance wing belonging to 16. century when the exquisite library was created which was later tranfered to the royal Chateau de Fontainebleu. Monumental spiral staircase are characterised by italian style.
  • Gaston of Orleans Classical wing which is following the style of Versaille dating back in 17. century.

Nowadays Chateau de Blois houses the Museum of Fine Arts where the prestious artwork of Rubens, Ingres or Boucher is located.

The sound and light show entertains the visitors at summer evening with its spectacular projections and historical stories.

Chateau d’Amboise

This fairy-tale castle in the Amboise town touches the delightful views above Loire river. This amazing royal residence provided lodgement to many artists including Leonardo da Vinci. Even the French Court was based at Amboise.

Chateau d'Amboise, Loire Valley
Chateau d’Amboise, Loire Valley- photo by Amboise-Valdeloire.com

Historic journey of the each room is represented by the elegant furniture nad artwork. Amazing gardens awoke the Renaissance in Loire Valley among which Naples gardens and Orient garden. The castle is also a home to the large world of various birds.

Chateau de Loches

This ancient castle from the 9. century vigorously embraces the views of Indre river and town Loches. It’s known by the impressive collection of the medieval armour of France.

Chateau de Loche, Loire Valley
Chateau de Loche, Loire Valley- photo by Touraine Loire Valley

This massive structure changed many roles from being the medieval fortress to the prison and now a museum. What makes this place unique are the remains of the fortress powerfully encircling the complex.

Conclusion

Elegance that knows no time but still wins the time at the historic scale of fairy-tale castles of Loire Valley is the symbol of France. The world rich of royalty signed up numeral artworks sheltered by dreamy towers and powerful defensive purpose.

Renaissance dictated the role of castles during 15. century while they interwined between french and italian style. Started only as fortresses these castles merged with the soft beautiness of the landscape. Gentle hills under the crown of the rivers Indre and Loire shaped the life full of wonder.

Loire valley itself within the largness of 280 km captures numeral fruit orchads and plant fields along the river. Most of the castles are located at the easy reach from charming towns where even the bike can be sufficient and shaping the marvellous town views.

Exquisitely recognized by the nobles in the past and many tourists now Loire valley has been the harmonious and tranquille treasure of natural wonder.

Only 80 of them are available to tourists but that’s already a rich treasure. The abundance of nature with picturesque flowing of few rivers, lush forrest created the stunning retreat scattered by the magic edifices. The nobles had a proficient choice of settling down where the castles were like the nests that attracted the world. Fairy-tale world of Loire valley is like a picture book stood in time.

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