• Château Royal d’Amboise

Loire Châteaux

Thanks to a bounty of agricultural land and a strategic location along the river that bisects France, the Loire is home to more than a thousand castles and palaces of all shapes and sizes. When a “valley address” became a must-have among 16th-century hunting-crazy royalty, rich Renaissance palaces replaced outdated medieval castles. Hundreds of these castles and palaces are open to visitors — make time to see two or three of the most intriguing of these.

At a Glance

Which châteaux should you visit — and why?

Châteaux East of Tours

▲▲▲ Chenonceau For sheer elegance arching over the Cher River, and for its lovely gardens.

▲▲▲ Chambord For its epic grandeur (440 rooms), fun rooftop views, and evocative setting surrounded by a forest.

▲▲ Blois For its urban setting, beautiful courtyard, and fun sound-and-light show.

▲▲ Cheverny For its intimate feel, lavishly furnished rooms, and daily feeding of the hunting dogs.

▲▲ Chaumont-sur-Loire For its imposing setting over the Loire River, historic connections to America, and impressive Festival of the Gardens.

▲ Amboise For terrific views over Amboise and Leonardo da Vinci memories.

▲ Clos-Lucé (in Amboise) For a chance to see Leonardo da Vinci’s final home, and to stroll through gardens decorated with models of his creations.

Châteaux West of Tours

▲▲ Azay-le-Rideau For its fairy-tale facade and setting on a romantic reflecting pond, and for its beautifully furnished rooms.

▲▲ Villandry For the best gardens in the Loire Valley — and possibly all of France.

▲ Chinon For its Joan of Arc history.

▲ Langeais For its fortress-like setting above an appealing little village, and its evocative 15th- and 16th-century rooms.

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Photos

  • france-chateau-de-chambord
  • Chenonceau Chateau, Loire, France
  • Leonardo Chapel, Chateau de Amboise, Loire, France
  • Chateau de Amboise, Loire, France

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