Loire Valley is sprinkled with castles of great grandeur. Each castle is beautiful in its own unique way. Here is a list of our favorite castles in the Loire Valley.
If you have limited time in the Loire Valley, don’t try to cram too many castles. The history of the castles are amazing, and you want to take the time to learn about it and enjoy it leisurely. Make use of the free brochures and audio tours as you walk through the rooms inside the castles.
We recommend Amboise as a base to visit these castles.
Chateau de Chenonceau
Chenonceau is one of the most popular castles in France! The castle is nicknamed “Chateau of the ladies” because of its history of housing several famous women over the centuries. We recommend coming in early to buy the tickets and enjoy the castle before the crowds start swarming in.
Built in the 15th century by Thomas Bohier and his wife Kartherine Briconnet, the castle was later occupied by Henry II. Henry II gave the castle to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who expanded the castle by building a bridge across the Cher River and beautiful gardens, which to this day are named after her. After Henry II’s death, his wife, Catherine de Medici seized the castle from Diane and built the three stories above the bridge that Diane had originally built. Fortunately, the castle was saved during the French Revolution and today is immaculately preserved for the public to enjoy.
Just like any other castle, Chenonceau has a beautiful chapel with high vaulted ceilings and decorated glass windows. You will walk through the lavish bedrooms that were used by the queens who lived in this castle, Catherine de Medici’s study room, the library overlooking Cher River and the lovely gardens. You can’t miss those colossal 15th century tapestries in almost every room inside the castle.
Spend some time aimlessly strolling through the well-manicured gardens, the plant maze, the vegetable and flower gardens, and the carriage gallery in the property. The plant maze was originally planted by Catherine de Medici.
Chateau de Chaumont
The reason I picked this castle over the others was simply because it resembles a Disney castle, well at least from the outside. The Chateau de Chaumont was built in the 15th and 16th century primarily for defense purposes, and this is obvious from the fact that one has to access a steep road leading up to the castle. After Catherine de Medici kicked Diane de Poitiers out of Chateau de Chenonceau, she exchanged Chenonceau for Chaumont.
A walk inside the Chateau de Chaumont takes you through the bedrooms of Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers, the kitchen and the dining room. It leads up to the courtyard from where the beautiful views of Loire River await you.
Check out the well-maintained stables in the property. If you visit the castle between April and October, you should not miss the popular Garden Festival.
Chateau de Chambord
Chateau de Chambord is monumental! A visit to Chateau de Chambord is a must. The castle grounds are so boundless, that you’d need a bike to go around. Fortunately, there are bike rentals, golf rentals and boat rentals. When we visited the chateau in the month of May, the weather was quite favorable and we loved biking around the castle grounds and enjoying the lovely views of the castle from all angles.
Royal Château d’Amboise
Though we didn’t visit the Royal Château d’Amboise, we loved this view of the castle from across the Loire River. If you choose Amboise as the base in the Loire Valley (which I highly recommend) or simply drive through Amboise, don’t forget to make a short pit stop to see this gorgeous view of the castle.