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Loire Valley Castles to visit: List, itineraries and must-sees
loire valley castles to visit,loire valley châteaux,chambord castle,loire castles - Loire Valley Castles to visit: List, itineraries and must-sees - 2022 - 1

Loire Valley Castles to visit: List, itineraries and must-sees

Welcome to our practical guide for Loire Valley Castles to visit!

For hundreds of years, families of nobles and monarchs have followed one another to maintain the myth of the history of France. The Route des Châteaux de la Loire is a real heritage institution in our country. The Loire is also a very rich wine region, and we will not fail to highlight its fabulous producers who will gladly welcome you for a well-deserved break. Very close to Paris, you can also consider doing wine-trips from Paris to the Loire.

Today, Winalist offers you its selection of must-sees to visit in a weekend, a 5-day cycling itinerary, as well as a complete list of castles in the region for the most passionate ones.

Visit the castles of the Loire in 2 or 3 days

With family or friends, take advantage of a weekend to discover the Loire Valley together.

The region has no shortage of itineraries and tourist offices to advise you on the unmissable places in the area, and to guide you on your way.

By car, it is quite possible to visit the castles of the Loire in 2 or 3 days. If you prefer cycling, or even hiking, it would be better to book at least a week of vacation.

If you are in the region for just a few days, we have listed the 5 most beautiful and famous Loire Valley Châteaux.

loire valley casltes to visit

Most beautiful Loire Valley Castles to visit: Top 5 historic places

Not easy to choose among the many castles of the Loire Valley. According to the various tourist guides and directories of existing castles, a hundred castles are open to the public . The region unsurprisingly holds the record for the number of castles in France!

We have selected for you the 5 most beautiful to visit.

Good to know: The route of the Loire castles is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its exceptional architecture, its remarkable cultural landscape and its monuments.

How to follow its routes: by bike, car, motorhome, or even in a hot air balloon.

1. Chenonceau Castle

loire valley castles to visit,loire valley châteaux,chambord castle,loire castles - Loire Valley Castles to visit: List, itineraries and must-sees - 2022 - 5

As fascinating for its architecture as for its history, the Château de Chenonceau is nicknamed “the Château des Dames” since it was shaped at the time by several women. Katherine Briçonnet, Diane de Poitiers or even Catherine de Médicis lived there, and all brought their stone to the building.

Created in 1513, it is currently the most visited castle in France.

To see at the Château de Chenonceau:

  • Its gallery passing over the Cher
  • the chamber of five queens
  • the magnificent gardens, and its park

2. Royal Castle of Amboise

loire valley castles to visit,loire valley châteaux,chambord castle,loire castles - Loire Valley Castles to visit: List, itineraries and must-sees - 2022 - 7

Eternal resting place of Master Leonardo da Vinci, former residence of the King of France, the Château d’Amboise is one of the wonders of the Loire.

This ancient medieval city is located in the heart of the city of Amboise, and its breathtaking panorama is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What to see at Château d’Amboise?

  • The historical show “La prophétie d’Amboise”, every summer
  • Its Italian-style gardens, designed by master gardener Dom Pacello da Mercogliano
  • The tomb of Leonardo da Vinci, in the Chapel of the Castle

3. The Royal Fortress of Chinon

loire valley castles to visit,loire valley châteaux,chambord castle,loire castles - Loire Valley Castles to visit: List, itineraries and must-sees - 2022 - 9
Chateau de Chinon, a castle located on the Vienne River in the town of Chinon in the Loire Valley, France. Unesco World Heritage.

Chinon is a medieval village located in the heart of the Loire Châteaux region. Between the vineyards and the Vienne, this city is home to one of the monuments of French history: The Royal Fortress, where eminent figures in our history have written some important pages of French grandeur (Jeanne d’Arc of course, but also Henri II, or Eleanor of Aquitaine).

The activities offered at the Royal Fortress:

  • Temporary or permanent exhibitions;
  • Wine Thursdays, from July 8 to August 28
  • an escape game, for young and old!

4. Chambord Castle

loire valley castles to visit,loire valley châteaux,chambord castle,loire castles - Loire Valley Castles to visit: List, itineraries and must-sees - 2022 - 11
Chateau de Chambord with the Cosson river in the foreground in the Loire Valley in France. The 440-room chateau dates from 1519 and is the largest in the Loire.

Chambord Castle is one of the greatest symbols of the power of the Kings of France. Classified among the majestic castles of the Renaissance, it was built by François 1er in 1519 to make it a hunting estate.
Its unique architecture and its French gardens make the national domain of Chambord an unmissable part of your stay on the Route des Châteaux de la Loire.

Some numbers :

  • The estate extends over an area equivalent to intramural Paris;
  • it is home to 160 hectares of game meadows;
  • its enclosed forest park (50km²) is the largest in Europe.

5. Cheverny Castle

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Tintin fans recognize it at a glance. The Château de Cheverny, owned by the De Vibraye family for 6 generations, indeed inspired the designer Hergé who created the fictitious Château de Moulinsart. Classical in style, it is classified on the list of historical monuments of France, as well as its park.

Original activities at the Château de Cheverny:

  • The permanent exhibition “Les secrets de Moulinsart”;
  • its gardens and labyrinth;
  • soup given to dogs

Cycling route: 300 km on the road to the Loire Valley Châteaux

Take the Loire Valley Châteaux Route by bicycle. We invite you to discover a route rich in landscapes, with about 4 hours of cycling per day, while taking the time to visit the various monuments that stand in your way.

Route of the Loire Castles by bike on Google Maps

Step 1: Chambord and Blois

The journey begins at the Chambord Castle. If you plan to come from Tours, we advise you to take the train to get to Blois first, and to make the round trip between Chambord and Blois during the day.

You will be able to visit two castles: that of Chambord of course, and the Royal Castle in the center of Blois.

Info: Entrance to the Chambord Castle is free for children under 26, and costs €15 for adults. You also have access to all the gardens.

The city of Blois is really pleasant to visit. A typical city center, a cathedral, the castle with its imposing staircase, and some viewpoints not to be missed.

Stage 2: On the way to Chenonceau

From Blois, we follow the Loire to Chaumont-sur-Loire, before branching off towards the Château de Chenonceau which passes over the Cher.

But for the early risers among you, we recommend leaving Blois at dawn to enjoy the sunrise in a hot air balloon at Chaumont-sur-Loire. Count around 130€ per person for a 1h30 flight, offering an inimitable 360° panorama of the castles of the Loire.

Heading back inland, head for the Château de Chenonceau for an unmissable visit to this itinerary. If you want to change your pedaling a bit, a canoe-kayak activity is offered on the Cher just in front of the castle.

Another option: go through Amboise before going to Chenonceau. To do this, simply follow the Loire from Blois to Amboise, before descending towards Chenonceau. Allow a few extra hours for this visit.

Step 3: Valencay

From Chenonceau, continue your route by taking the cycle paths along the Cher river . You will cross many small villages, until a well-deserved break in Saint-Aignan (our favorite little village on this stage).

You can then leave the tracks and follow the departmental roads 17, 52 and 956 to arrive at Château de Valençay. Less known than its companions, its history is just as interesting.

Stage 4: Château de l’Islette, Villandry and Azay-le-Rideau

Heading back east for this penultimate stage of this route, you pass through Montresor, which has its castle, but above all through Loches, an unmissable village on the route of the Loire Castles.

We advise you to stop there to visit the garden overlooking the royal city, its charming alleys and why not take a walk around the ramparts.

The road continues for this good day of pedaling to the Châte de l’Islette, one of our favourites, and finally the castle of Azay-le-Rideau located not far away.

See Also
Les châteaux et vignobles dans la région viticole de la Loire

A detour…to Tours? The city of Tours is located a few kilometers from the Château de Villandry. Discover what to do and see in Tours!

Final stage: Chinon and Saumur

For this last day, which is shorter in terms of distance, head towards Chinon, a former fortress of the Kingdom of France. You will of course discover its castle, as well as very beautiful views of the Vienne which crosses the city.
Our journey finally ends in the town of Saumur, charming and surrounded by vineyards. Discover what’s to see in Saumur!

Loire Castles Pass: Where to buy it?

To save time (and money), consider getting a Pass’ Châteaux de la Loire, your key to visiting the most beautiful monuments in the region.

You can buy it directly online at the Blois-Chambord Boutique. Pass Châteaux are also on sale in the tourist offices of Blois, Chambord, Chaumont-sur-Loire and Cheverny.

Different packages are available, depending on the route you have planned, and tickets are valid until the end of 2021.

Always remember to find out about the opening hours and periods of the castles. Although these are open most of the year, exceptional closures are sometimes announced.

Enjoy your bike journey and all the Loire Valley Castles to visit!


Tips For Visiting Loire Valley Castles from Paris

– The best Loire Valley castles for a day trip from Paris are the Chateau de Blois and the Chambord Castle. They are both 2 hours southwest of Paris.
– If you’d like to experience several Loire Valley castles, don’t plan on seeing more than two in one day. It’s also a good idea to identify the castles you want to see in advance and select centrally located accommodations. To see the castles on this list, consider staying in the town of Tours.
– In addition to its stunning castles, the Loire Valley is known for its locally sourced cuisine and world-class sauvignon blanc and pinot noir wines, so be sure to enjoy them as well as the rich history and impressive architecture.

Which Loire Castles not miss?

The essentials in the region of the Loire castles are:
1- Chambord Castle;
2- Cheverny Castle;
3- Amboise Castle;
4-Chinon Castle;
5- Chenonceau Castle.

Which circuit to visit Loire Castles?

The 5-day cycling circuit linking Chambord to Saumur is a timeless classic for discovering the region and its castles

What is the most visited Loire Castle?

Chenonceau is the most visited in France, after nearly 800,000 visitors each year.

When is the best time to visit Loire Castles?

Spring, in the month of May, is surely one of the best times to enjoy a tourist excursion in the region. The sunny days are still quite temperate, and the influx of tourists is moderate compared to the summer school holiday season.

How to visit Loire Castles without a car?

The ideal is to use bicycles. If you are not yet equipped, you can find many agencies in the region that will rent you bikes adapted for the paths as well as for the road.

Complete list of the 100 Loire Castles

For the real enthusiasts, here is a list of 100 Loire castles to visit.

Indre et Loire (37)
List of castles open in Indre-et-Loire:
Domaine Candé in Monts
Champchevrier (Cléré les Pins)
Chateau Gaillard
Clos Lucé
Fontenay to Lignieres
Jallanges to Vouvray
La Bourdaisière (Montlouis sur Loire)
La Devinière (Seuilly) – Rabelais Museum
La Farinière (Cinq Mars la Pile)
La Guerche
La Roche Racan
Le Grand Pessigny
L’Islette (Azay-le-Rideau)
Monpoupon (Céré la Ronde)
My Treasure
Nitray (Atheist on Cher)
Le Rivau (Lemere)
Chateau d’Usse
Valliere (Reugny, Chancay)
Villaumaire (Huismes)

Loir et Cher (41)
List of castles open in Loir-et-Cher:
Beautiful eyes
Gué-Péan (Monthou-sur-Cher)
La Possonnière (Couture-sur-le-Loir)
Les Radrets (Sargé sur Braye)
Windmill (Lassay-sur-Croisne)
Troussay (Cheverny)
Villesavin (Tour-en-Sologne)

Maine et Loire (49)
List of castles open in Maine-et-Loire:
Echarbot (St-Sylvain d’Anjou)
The Lordship of the Wood
Manor of Launay
La Thibaudiere
Le Breil (Foin-à-Chigné)
Le Plessis-Bourre
Le Plessis-Mace
Martigne Briand
Montriou (Feneu)

Loiret (45)
List of chateaux open in the Loiret:
Groslot (Orleans)
La Bussiere
La Ferte Saint-Aubin
Meung sur Loire
Pont Chevron
Saint Brisson

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