The Loire Valley is a fairytale land which displays the French history at its best. Once a playground for kings and counts, the Valley has marvelous castles (chateaux) which are attracting millions of tourists every summer. The monumental architecture of the Loire Valley made the region part of the UNESCO heritage list. Here is a subjective list of my top 5 most beautiful chateaux of the Loire Valley.
One of the last Renaissance castle on the Loire Valley, Chateau de Villandry should be visited for its mesmerizing gardens. The gardens are divided on three levels of terrace. On the highest level are the sun garden and the water garden, whereas a flower garden is located on the level of the castle. On the lower level, there is a kitchen garden with a diversity of vegetables.
Why I like it: You can spend half a day in the gardens and still be impressed with their magnificent beauty.
My favorite spot: The garden of Love which can be admired also from the windows of the castle.
The most photographed castle on Loire Valley and the second most visited chateau in France (after the Chateau de Versailles). Plus, Chateau de Chenonceau is one of the most romantic castles on Loire Valley. It was inhabited by powerful women from the French history, such as Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. Moreover, the castle is exceptional for its arches spanning the River Cher and you can pass under the castle if you boat on the river.
Why I like it: It has a bit of everything: beautiful architecture, a lesson of history, ornamental gardens, the breeze of the river, a stunning collection of paintings.
My favorite spot: The green study room of Catherine de Medici which has the walls covered in green velvet. Take a moment and glaze over the window to see the garden and the river.
Such a small castle, but so impressively furnished and decorated. Chateau de Ceverny is owned by the same family for the past 6 centuries. The castle presents a 3D Tintin movie for the comic books lovers. Yes, the castle is the fictional Marlinspike Hall in Tintin comic books.
Why I like it: Magnificent decorations, English-style garden, gourmet cakes in the Orangerie – just to name a few things.
My favorite spot: In the kennels of the castle there are more than hundred hunting dogs. You can admire them all day long and even pick a name of one of them.
In the middle of a park which is spread over 13,000 acres lays the impressive Chateau of Chambord. This magnificent piece of architecture shows François I’s extravagance. Started as a hunting lodge, the castle ended up as an edifice with 440 rooms. Most of the room have never been furnished. However, the ceilings and the staircases, the hidden passages and the towers keep the imagination alive.
Why I like it: The splendor of the architecture reminds of the France in its royal times. Also, a grand staircase (supposedly designed by Leonardo Da Vinci) brings two parallel stairs spiraling up.
My favorite spot: The rooftop gives an amazing panorama over the estate, as well as a close-up to the architecture of the towers.
Home to 7 kings and 10 queens of France, Chateau Royal de Blois shows the political importance in the Renaissance period. The castle is fabulously located within the city of Blois and its wings are built around the main courtyard. There are multiple royal apartments, hundreds of rooms and staircases, an impressive Gothic hall and an astonishing collection of paintings.
Why I like it: Winding from one bedroom to another, you can have a grasp of the France royal daily life across multiple centuries.
My favorite spot: The staircase with open balconies which give a good view of the inner courtyard.
What other castles have you visited on Loire Valley? Which one is your favorite?