Standing tall and majestic, the Chateaux of the Loire Valley are an incredible collection of buildings renovated during the French Renaissance period.
Standing along the Loire River, the Chateau’s breathe pure opulence. With their tall turrets, bright lanterns, large gables, beautiful windows and elaborate chimneys, the buildings were designated as a world heritage site in 2000. Millions of tourists every year flock to the region to witness the most grandest of French grandeur.
To help you decide which chateau’s to visit, we have put together out list of the the best chateaux of the Loire Valley. Enjoy!
Quite simply the largest and most famous of all the Loire chateaus, Chambord is a celebration of the extravagant and prestigious lifestyle of the French King Francis I. Built originally as a hunting lodge with Leonardo Da Vinci supposedly helping with its design, the large chateau stretches 156 meters across and played host to the kings entourage of over 10,000 strong. The 13,000 acres of park surrounding the chateau are larger than central Paris and you’ll want a good afternoon to explore the site fully.
Admission – €11
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Lying along the easter border of the Touraine Province which, for many, symbolises the garden of France, Amboise sits high atop a rocky promontory overlooking the city below. Confiscated by the French monarchy in the 15th century, the chateau soon became a favoured residence for the royals. It is easy to see why, stand outside on one of its many terraces and look down upon the gorgeous city of Amboise an you’ll soon discover why it was so special to the French monarchy. The view is seriously amazing! No need to adjust your spectacles or contact lenses to appreciate the magnificent vista.
Admission – €10.70
Whilst Villandry is by no means one of the grandest chateaus on the Loire, its garden far outstrips even the greatest of French Renaissance buildings. Vast in size and manicured to within an inch of its life, the terraced gardens of Villandry are a wonder to behold. The dynamic design, bright colours and geometric layout is a startling sight when viewed from the chateau itself. In private hands to this day, the gardens are well worth a day trip to explore.
Admission – €10
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Without doubt one of the most picturesque and romantic of Loire Valley chateaus, Chenonceau was bought by Henri II for his mistress Diane-de-Poitiers. Chenonceau is now the second most visited chateau in France behind the Palace of versailles and the gardens and art on display match the house in grandeur. The arched building over the Cher River is simply breathtaking and the entire chateau is designed in such a perfect way that almost makes it look fake.
Admission – €12.50
If you’re looking for fairytale castles, look no further, Usse is the real one. When writing Sleeping beauty, Charles Perrault used Usse as his inspiration for the classic fairytale. Located on the edge of the Chinon forest overlooking the Indre Valley, the chateau of Usse is famed for its picturesque aspect of towering turrets, bursting fountains and rolling grounds. Supposedly used as the inspiration for many of Walt Disney’s castles, Usse is certainly worth a visit with the kids.
Admission – €14
One of the oldest Loire Valley Chateaus, Chinon was built in the 12th century and is steeped in French history. Chinon is the place Joan of Arc claimed to hear heavenly voices before meeting the French King. Knights Templar were kept here pre-prosecution and Chinon was also the favoured location of Henry II. Whilst not typically renaissance style, the chateau is a vast fortress built for battle. There is a currently multi-million dollar restoration project taking place which will only enhance the stark splendour of the fort.
Admission – €8.50
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Last but not least is the colossal chateau of Blois. With 564 rooms, 75 staircases and a 100 bedrooms (each with a fireplace), Blois is certainly Loire’s finest in-town chateau. One of the best bits is François I’s outside staircase that spirals up the side of the grand building, letting everyone know where you are going. However, the interior is where the building really comes alive. Deep wall colours, a large gothic hall and beautiful paintings bring the house to life.
Admission – €9.80