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How to visit the Châteaux de la Loire

Apr 29, 2024

For an exceptional discovery of the Châteaux of the Loire

The Loire Valley, also known as the “Valley of the Kings”, is home to an architectural treasure trove of incomparable beauty: the Loire castles. These sumptuous edifices bear witness to the history and refinement of the French Renaissance. In this article, we reveal the best ways to visit the chateaux of the Loire Valley, highlighting different options to suit all tastes and desires. Get ready to plunge into a fairytale world and enjoy an unforgettable experience in the heart of France. And if you need any further details, don’t hesitate to contact our Tour guides for the Centre-Val de Loire region.

Visit the Châteaux of the Loire in two days

If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, it’s possible to visit the main Loire Valley châteaux in just two days. Start your tour with the majestic Château de Chambord, a symbol of the French Renaissance with its grandiose architecture. Admire its slender towers, slate roofs and impressive double helix of staircases. Continue your visit to Château de Chenonceau, nicknamed the “Château des Dames”, which elegantly spans the Cher River. Explore the various galleries and richly decorated rooms, and be sure to take a stroll in the surrounding gardens. Next, head to the Château d’Amboise, where the tombs of Leonardo da Vinci and several French kings lie in state. Soak up the historic atmosphere as you tour the halls and chapels, and enjoy panoramic views of the Loire Valley from the ramparts. Finally, end your visit at Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, a jewel of elegance and finesse set on an island in the middle of the Indre River. Admire its refined architecture and magnificent formal gardens.

Châteaux de la Loire Azay-le-Rideau

Take your time at the Châteaux de la Loire

If you prefer to take your time and appreciate every detail of the châteaux, opt for a more leisurely discovery. Start with Château de Villandry, famous for its magnificent terraced formal gardens. Stroll among colorful flowerbeds, trimmed hedges and tranquil ponds. Next, head to Château de Cheverny, a perfectly preserved chateau where you can immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the period. Visit its richly furnished rooms, discover the art collections and even attend the hunting dogs’ meal, held daily at 11:30 a.m. in a kennel adjoining the estate. Continue your visit with Château de Langeais, a medieval castle that will transport you back in time. Explore its towers and moats, and watch a re-enactment of a medieval wedding. Finally, round off your day with a visit to the Château de Blois, a royal palace that will plunge you into the heart of French history. Discover its various wings, bearing witness to architectural developments from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, and visit the room where Joan of Arc is said to have stayed. This wonderful multi-day escapade will undoubtedly inspire you to discover more about France’s castles, which light up every corner of the country.

Châteaux de la Loire Cheverny

The Châteaux of the Loire Valley by bike

For cycling enthusiasts, the Loire Valley offers magnificent itineraries and picturesque landscapes. Follow the cycle path along the river and discover the castles on two wheels. Start with the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire, perched on a hill and offering breathtaking views over the valley. Continue your adventure as you make your way to the Château d’Amboise, passing through charming villages and verdant vineyards. Once in Amboise, explore the town by bike and discover its narrow cobbled streets and half-timbered houses. Continue on to the Château de Saumur, perched on a cliff overlooking the Loire. Admire its feudal architecture and enjoy the town’s lively atmosphere. Finally, end your tour at Château de Langeais, passing through peaceful villages and along the banks of the river.

Loire Valley châteaux off the beaten track

For those wishing to explore lesser-known sites and get off the beaten track, here are a few châteaux that are well worth a visit. Visit Château de Brézé, near Saumur, known for its impressive network of underground passages dug into the chalk. Explore its underground cellars, kitchens and stables, and discover the secrets that lie beneath your feet. Next, discover Château de Talcy, a Renaissance-style moated château nestling in a green setting. Visit its richly decorated rooms and stroll through its Italian gardens. Finally, don’t miss the Château de Gien on the banks of the Loire, home to a hunting and faience museum. Admire its collections and enjoy the breathtaking view over the river.

Châteaux de la Loire Talcy

What to see around the Châteaux de la Loire

While you’re visiting the Loire castles, take the opportunity to discover the treasures that surround them. Visit Tours, the region’s largest city, and stroll through its historic center. Admire Saint-Gatien Cathedral, with its magnificent stained-glass windows, and explore the charming medieval streets. And don’t miss the village of Candes-Saint-Martin, listed as one of France’s most beautiful villages, with its troglodyte houses and panoramic views over the confluence of the Loire and Vienne rivers. Finally, visit the region’s renowned vineyards, such as Chinon and Vouvray, and taste the delicious wines for which the Loire Valley is famous.

Top places to sleep and eat on the tour

To make the most of your stay in the region, we recommend a few places to stay and eat. For charming, authentic accommodation, opt for the Hôtel Grand Saint-Michel in Langeais, a family-run establishment offering comfortable rooms and a warm welcome. If you prefer a more luxurious setting, the Domaine des Hauts de Loire in Onzain is a 5-star hotel nestled in 70 hectares of parkland. The Michelin-starred restaurant will delight gourmets. For a more affordable culinary experience, head to the Restaurant Au Chapeau Rouge in Chinon, renowned for its regional cuisine and friendly atmosphere.

A visit to the châteaux of the Loire Valley is a fascinating experience, immersing you in the history and architectural beauty of the French Renaissance. Whether you choose to visit them in two days, take your time, discover them by bike or get off the beaten track, you’ll be amazed by the majesty of these jewels of French heritage. Enjoy the wonders that surround the castles and the gastronomic delights of the region. Get ready to experience magical moments and create lasting memories in the heart of the Loire Valley.

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