The Castles of the Loire Valley
There are more than 60 castles that are open for visitors in the Loire Valley. We only managed to visit a few, and those are listed at the top of the page. We have also tried to list a lot of the ones we missed. I hope you find some useful information for your own trip here.
The famous castle Chambord has attracted visitors for centuries. Chambord is the largest and most impressive of the Loire Valley castles with a facade of over 18 stories high with 440 rooms and 365 chimneys it has been referred to as "the mathematisation of architecture". It was originally designed as an ostentatious hunting lodge for Francois I. In its five hundred year history it was only ever used as a royal residence for 20 years. Chambord sits proudly surrounded by the largest hunting estate in the Loire Valley.
More about Chateau de Chambord
Chateau d'Usse is a charming castle. It is located in the commune Rigney-Usse. The famous writer Charles Perrault was inspired by this castle and it's surroundings to write the famous fairytale Sleeping Beauty.
There is also a beautiful chapel next to the castle. The castle was built in the 15'-16'th century.
Right next to the castle there is a Boutique Gastronomique where you can purchase local products, such as wine and olive oil.
See more photos from Chateau d'Usse
Chateau de Chenonceau
This chateau is open daily and is definately worth a visit. Unlike many other castles in Loire, this one was created according to the wishes of women. King Henri II's mistress Diane de Poitiers and also his widow Cathérine de Medicis.
There is both a café and a good restaurant inside the area. Don't miss the farm either, it's a charming area where they grow all the flowers that you will see inside the castle.
Château Azay le Rideau
Château d'Azay le Rideau is a charming castle in French Renaissance style. It was begun in 1518 by Gilles Berthelot who worked on it for nine years before it was confiscated by the king. He was accusing Berthelot for embezzelment.
The chateau is one of France most visited. Check the website for opening hours before you go.
The castle itself is not open for visitors, but the remarkable garden around it is. In 1992 the owner decided to build a themed garden around the castle. You get a visitors map at the entrance with a suggested walk around the garden. It takes you first to the garden of abundance, which actually looks like a leaf from above.
I'm not sure when the best time to visit this garden is. When we visited late August, there was not much roses left in the romantic garden, but I still enjoyed the walk through the different parts of it.
Chateau de Villandry
Chateau de Villandry's fame is based not so much at the chateau as its garden. You get the best outlook of the garden from the top of the keep. The view is simply magnificent. The Chateau is one of the latest built chateaux in Loire in Renaissance style. Chateau de Villandry is owned by the Carvallo family, and has been since 1906. Joachim Carvallo reconstructed the gardens to its primary state. The garden has three terraces, the water garden at the highest level is acting as a reservoir for the flower garden below. At the lowest level, there is a kitchen garden with vegetables and fruit trees arranged in nine squares. You need at least one hour to explore the garden and another hour to visit the chateau.