"Valley of Kings -- Sixteen Loire Valley Chateaus" Pays de la Loire by Beausoleil
Pays de la Loire Travel Guide: 866 reviews and 2,411 photos
Chateau Chenonceau, located just outside the village of Chenonceaux, is one of the loveliest of the Loire chateaus. It was extended over the river Cher by Diane de Poitiers and when it was taken by Catherine de Medici, Catherine added a second story to the bridge gallery. There are often art exhibits in the gallery but it's hard to look at the art when you can look up and down the river out the windows.
We have exited a door at the far end of the first floor gallery for a walk in the woods and spectacular views of the chateau along the river. However, on our trip in Oct. 2006 the door was locked and any views were gotten from the entrance side of the river as in the photo here.
Azay is probably my favorite chateau. It is small and white and perfect. The setting in the moat that is a little lake is lovely and the surrounding gardens are perfection. Then there is the river flowing past the edge of the property and the tiny town that is so clean and friendly. It just adds up to a delightful chateau experience.
There are volunteers who gather to arrange flowers for the rooms and when they put the flowers in the beautifully furnished rooms, you have a very warm, living home rather than a tourist attraction.
Mind you, there are tourists aplenty, but despite that there is a warm welcoming feeling to Azay.
Villandry is another favorite chateau. The gardens are famous and spectacular but don't miss the inside of the chateau. It is beautifully furnished, has recently had a lot of renovation and updating, has lovely floral displays from the gardens and offers stunning garden views from the windows and the tower. Yes, the climb to the top of the tower is definitely worth it.
If you can, plan to spend a day there. Arrive late in the morning and visit the chateau proper, have lunch and then spend the afternoon in the magical gardens. We've visited many times but this is the first time we walked the maze. I was convinced we'd get lost, but our daughter was with us and she just took off into the maze. What's a mother to do? . . . We followed. We made it to the viewing platform in the center and back out and had a lot of fun in the process.
Don't forget the travelogue below for 16 Loire Valley chateaus, some not so famous.
- Pros:Lovely countryside; lovely chateaus; lovely churches; lovely wines
- Cons:You can't possibly see most of it in a few days!
- In a nutshell:A lovely relaxing place for an entire vacation, not just a day!
Someone asked on the forum "If you could only visit one chateau, which would it be and why?" Here is my answer.... more travel advice
On a bicycle trip you can camp but you might also check the Logis de France web site. They have bicycle-friendly Logis... more travel advice
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