Tour the Loire Chateaux
We’ll start with the most famous and most visited. These are the kings of the Loire, well funded, well organised and well known. You’ll find automatic ticket booths, headphone guides and restaurants and gift shops. They are majestic and awe inspiring just by their sheer size, but sometimes they lack the charm of the smaller Chateaux dotted throughout the Loire. At LoireLife.com we aim to do all the Loire Chateaux justice!
A Renaissance Loire Chateau owing its splendour to powerful women. King Henry II gifted Chenonceau to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who commissioned the arched bridge over the river Cher and then oversaw the planting of the gardens. After King Henry’s death, his widow Catherine de’ Medici forced Diane to leave and made Chenonceau her own favorite residence, adding new gardens and spending a fortune on spectacular parties. Steeped in history, this Chateau justifies it’s place as one of the best in the Loire and indeed France. Get there early though, it will get busy in the afternoon!
In a word this is a whopper – the size is mind boggling! Built for Francis I, Chambord is the largest Loire château and it was built to serve as a hunting lodge. It took twenty-eight years to construct (1519–1547) and with the château nearing completion, Francis I would show off his enormous wealth and power by hosting other kings and emperors. The Chateau recieves over 750,00 visitors each year!
Indre et Loire www.chateauvillandry.fr
A beautiful chateau developed from a medieval castle, surrounded by the most amazing formal gardens, which are worth a visit at any time of the year. You would visit the house itself more to get to the top of the keep and look out over the gardens, rather than for the house itself, Then spend the rest of the time exploring the grounds, which include a water garden, ornamental flower gardens, and vegetable gardens. With a maze and plenty of open spaces its a great place for children as well. Rapidly becoming one of the must see Chateau in the Loire Valley.
Indre et Loire www.chateau-de-langeais.com
A medieval fortress that still dominates the town, here you will find one of the earliest examples of a stone keep having been built in the late 990’s. Destroyed in the Hundred Years War, King Louis XI (1461–1483) rebuilt Château de Langeais into what today is one of the best examples of late medieval architecture. It’s not just history though, its a brilliant Chateau to explore inside and out, including an enormous tree house situated in the gardens at the rear of the Chateau!
Indre et Loire www.azay-le-rideau.monuments-nationaux.fr
Probably one of the most famous photos of Loire Valley Chateaux, Azay le Rideau sits in the middle of a lilly pond lake and catch it in the right light and it is truly stunning! Surrounded by a pretty town with cobbled stone streets that lead to the Chateau’s entrance it can be an enchanting visit. You have to pay in order to see the Chateau as the leafy grounds and walls hide it from prying eyes – so no freebies here!
Indre et Loire en.chateaudegizeux.com/accueil.htm
One of those hidden gems that are less well known but you will feel a sense of satisfaction in finding and exploring. Chateau de Gizeux is the largest private inhabited home in the Anjou-Touraine region, the de Laffon family having lived in the Chateau since before the French Revolution. In the late 1600’s the then owner, Anne de Frézeau moved to the country and invited a school of painting to decorate the famous “galerie des châteaux”.
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