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The most beautiful French castles in the Loire Valley

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Are you looking for a place to get away from it all in the Loire Valley? Then maybe a trip to one of these enchanted castles in France can serve as a source of motivation for you.


The Loire Valley, which is also known as the garden of France, has a long history of being home to kings and other members of France's upper aristocracy. However, in modern times, it has developed into one of the most well-known tourist spots in all of France, and it is open to everyone. This is primarily attributable to the presence of three hundred magnificent chateaux that are spread out over the area. More than one hundred of these magnificent French castles are available to the public, making it not surprising that several of them have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, some of them are far more well-known than others, even though each one has been meticulously preserved and carries with it its fascinating tale.


Therefore, to assist you in narrowing down your options, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite French castles to visit in the beautiful Loire Valley.


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Château de Chambord


The Chateau of Chambord, which is located in the Loire Valley, is regarded as having one of the most exquisite examples of French Renaissance architecture and is surrounded by a park that is home to many deer. It is generally accepted that Leonardo da Vinci had some role in the initial design of it, or at the very least had some kind of influence on it. You can see this, for example, in the design of the center plan that is formed like a Greek cross and the well-known spiral staircase that is designed like a double helix. Since its construction in 1519, the magnificent castle has served as a residence for several monarchs of France. In the 18th century, it was also the residence of the King of Poland, Stanislaw Leszczyski, whose daughter went on to marry King Louis XV of France.


In the late 19th century, the castle was finally acquired by the Duke of Parma, after having been in many different hands before. After that, in 1932, the government of France purchased it and promptly returned it to its previous state. Since 1981, the Chateau de Chambord has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and it is also accessible to the general public for excursions. Visitors are allowed entry inside the royal apartments and may use secret staircases to get to mezzanines and lofts that are otherwise off-limits to the general public.


In addition to having 440 rooms, 335 fireplaces, and 12 staircases, the castle is also home to Europe's biggest walled park. This park is enclosed by the castle on three sides. This encompasses a staggering 13,500 acres of land. This is one of the most magnificent castles in all of France that you will come across in the Loire Valley.


Château de Sully-sur-Loire


The appearance of the Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire, with its towering corner towers, stone arched bridge, and broad moat, is reminiscent of something that may be found in the pages of a storybook. The fact that it is at a pivotal point on the Loire River makes it all the more beautiful. Raymond du Temple, the architect of the king, constructed the stunning medieval castle in 1395 for Guy de La Tremolle, Lord of Sully. The fortress was designed in the medieval style. Since that time, it has been the residence of Maximilien de Béthune, who served as a minister to King Henry IV of France, as well as subsequent dukes of Sully. Several well-known historical characters, including Louis XIV, Voltaire, and Joan of Arc, have stayed there at one time or another.


Even though the chateau was destroyed in a devastating fire in 1918 and that it sustained damage during World War II, it has been reconstructed and brought back to its former splendor with time. In 1928, it was officially designated as a Historical Monument by the United States. The public is welcome to visit the castle and examine the extensive collection of tapestries, wall hangings, and sculptures that are housed there. In addition, as part of the Music Festival de Sully & du Loiret, it plays home each year to a festival devoted to classical music.


Château de Chenonceau


Another iconic structure in France, the Chateau de Chenonceau may be found in the region of Indre-et-Loire, not far from the namesake hamlet of Chenonceaux. It was constructed in 1513 by King Charles VII, who subsequently handed it to King Henry II. However, King Henry II eventually gave it to his lover Diane de Poitiers once he had become King. After the death of the monarch, Catherine de Médicis, the king's wife, coerced the king's mistress into acquiring possession of the castle. It is now well-known for possessing the sensibility of a lady. This may be seen in various prominent elements, such as a lovely flower garden, a park designed in the English style, and an Italian labyrinth with 2,000 yew trees inside its confines.


In addition, the castle has a remarkable collection of furniture, tapestries, and paintings created by some of the most renowned artists in European history, such as Rubens, Clouet, and Van Dyck. The history of the chateau and the important part that women played in its development are powerfully reflected in the artworks in this collection. Nevertheless, the River Cher, which surrounds the castle, is perhaps one of its most stunning features. On a day with no clouds, this provides the ideal opportunity for introspection.


Chateau de Villandry


The Chateau de Villandry was established in 1532 as a fortified tower; nevertheless, it is now most well-known for the magnificent Renaissance gardens that surround it. They are the ones that have received the greatest acclaim in the Loire Valley. These lovely grounds include a total area of nine hectares and feature a Kitchen Garden, Water Garden, and Ornamental Garden among its many other gardens. The latter is also the location of the well-known Garden of Love, which is filled with romantic symbolism from the period of the Renaissance. Those with romantic hearts who like nature have to visit this place.


This refined air of the Renaissance era can also be seen throughout the magnificent rooms of the chateau. The dining room, which has an elegant fountain and a marble floor, and the art gallery, which is packed with Spanish artworks from the Golden Age, are two of the highlights of the hotel. In addition, the chateau has a beautiful staircase designed in the Louis XV style. The initials of Michel-Ange de Castellane, the person who purchased the castle in 1754, are interlaced into the banisters of the staircase. In 1934, both this and the dining room were recognized as historical monuments in the United States.


Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire


The Gothic and Renaissance-style Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire is another French castle that is well known for its stunning garden. Beginning in 1992, the magnificent stronghold in Chaumont has been playing home to the annual International Garden Festival of Chaumont. Landscape artists from all over the globe participate in this endeavor, to create stunning modern gardens that are connected to a particular concept. The guests may stroll freely among them and completely immerse themselves in the one-of-a-kind ambiance of each, all while taking in the breathtaking scenery of the chateau in the background.


The actual castle, on the other hand, has a past that is not as peaceful. Around the year 1000, it was constructed first as a watchtower to keep an eye on the boundary between the counties of Blois and Anjou. However, in 1465, King Louis XI ordered that it be destroyed as a kind of retribution for the actions of its owner, who had taken part in an anti-royalist campaign. However, just a few years later, the monarch granted permission for it to be constructed in his kingdom. Although the gothic style was first used in the construction of the castle, it was eventually redecorated in the Renaissance style. This may be seen in the elaborately carved décor as well as the luxurious furnishings that are there.


Château d’Ussé


If you were the kind of child who devoured fairy tales while you were growing up, then a visit to the enchanted Chateau d'Ussé is necessary. It is thought that the famous fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" was based on this quirky French castle. Charles Perrault is credited with having written the story. Many people also think that it served as an inspiration for some of Walt Disney's castles. In addition, it is situated in a picturesque location on the outskirts of the Chinon forest, which gives it an air of being lifted straight from a fairytale. The castle even has a tower that provides guests with the opportunity to experience a lovely exhibition of the well-known story, which of course stars Prince Charming and Princess Aurora. The chateau's extensive past is brought to life in other areas via the use of furnished chambers that are stocked with mannequins dressed in historical clothing.


The Chateau of Ussé was constructed in many phases between the 15th and 17th centuries and has aspects of both Gothic architecture and Renaissance design. Underground passages that are one thousand years old and wine cellars that date back to the 14th century are two of the most enigmatic aspects of this property. The chateau has remained in private ownership even though it was designated a historical monument in 1942. In addition to this, it is the only château in the Loire valley that has been owned by the same family for over 200 years.


Château de Cheverny


The Chateau de Cheverny is yet another breathtaking castle in France, and it has an intriguing history related to literature. This stunning building from the 17th century served as the model for Marlinspike Hall, which appears in Hergé's renowned comic book series Tintin, which is set in Belgium. The Hergé Foundation and the estate collaborated to construct a permanent exhibition on the premises, which is titled The Secrets of Marlinspike Hall. However, this is not the only characteristic that distinguishes Cheverny from other places. It is unique among the French castles in the Loire Valley in that it was built in the traditional style of Louis XIII. In addition to that, its symmetry is impeccable.


In addition, the chateau was constructed using native white stone, which has the unique property of becoming harder and more durable with time. In addition, it stands out because of the lovely and unblemished exterior. In addition, there is a labyrinth within the castle, as well as grounds that are full of wisteria and tulips. It plays home to several events on an annual basis, one of which is a Venetian weekend during which the grounds of the castle are transformed into a popular carnival. The chateau is particularly well-known for its hunting, and it is home to more than one hundred hounds that guests are welcome to interact with. Watching the feeding of the hunting hounds in the afternoon is one of the most popular things to do in Cheverny.


Château d’Amboise


Since the French crown obtained control of the opulent Chateau d'Amboise in the 15th century, several royal families and historical personalities, including Leonardo da Vinci, have trod the floors of the property. His grave may be found in the chapel that is located on the grounds of the castle. The UNESCO-listed chateau, which is located on top of a hill overlooking the town of Amboise and the Loire Valley, provides visitors with breathtaking panoramas, especially from the balconies of the upper floors. Spectators walking along the Loire River may, of course, also take in the spectacular structure's reflection in the river.


The Gothic and Renaissance styles were both used in the construction of Chateau d'Amboise, which was designated a French Historical Monument in the year 1840. Today, it is still one of the French castles in the Loire Valley that receives the most visitors, particularly because of its stunning terraced gardens and orangery, which are special attractions. The latter also includes a 3D reconstruction section that displays the significant changes that were made to the castle beginning during the reign of Charles VIII.


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