Les châteaux de la Loire

Posted on 08. Feb, 2010 by in Travel

42 châteaux (castles) consists of what is called Les châteaux de la Loire, located in the region of Vallée de la Loire in Central France, 2h south-west of Paris. The following itinerary visits 4 castles of the area.

Most of the castles are built in accordance to the Renaissance style, where defence features are transformed into ornaments and stylish décor, and where luxury knows no boundaries.

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau - by Anne Gauthier

For the initiated, biking your way around would be an excellent idea and is easily feasible. However for those who prefer the comfort of a padded car seat, that too is an option - you can either drive from Paris or take the train to Tours and rent a car there.  Little romantic tip:  for an unforgettable lunch,  pack a picnic in the morning and enjoy it in near a river over viewing a château.

Now, let’s start from the beginning:

From Tours, head to Villandry, where you will find the most beautiful garden of the area. It once belonged to Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, and rumour has it that Einstein visited (and loved) this castle.

Get to Azay-le-Rideau, one of the oldest Renaissance château of France, which is built directly into the river, and is probably the best example of a traditional French castle. The surrounding city is well-known for its tasty white and rose wine, perfect for lunch.

Château de Chenonceau - by Anne Gauthier

Then, drive to Chenonceau, the most magnificent and well-known château of the area, and consequently the second most visited property in France after Versailles. With its dramatic architecture, it is quite a crowd pleaser - in fact, if you only had one castle to visit entirely, I strongly suggest this one.

Now, head to Chambord. It is the largest château of Vallée de la Loire, and it’s where the Louvre’s art collections were stored during WWII. Built in a very impressive and ornamental architecture, with a particular attention to the roof, it was meant to look like the skyline of Constantinople, and certainly lacks no space with its 440 rooms and 84 staircases (I wonder if anyone ever played hide and seek there).

It seems like an awful lot of places for a single day but if you’re budget conscious and only plan on visiting one castle and admiring the others from the outside, it’s doable. You will, however, need three full days if you want to visit inside every castle.

Have you ever visited les Châteaux de la Loire? Do you have a favorite one?

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