When you will be on holiday in France, I know that time will be counted, and I know that you will want to make the most out of it! And that is absolutely normal! (When I am on vacation, I don’t want to lose any time and I want to visit everything possible). If the Loire Valley Castles are on your to-do list, and you don’t know where to start, what to visit or how long you will need, I am going to help you 🙂
Prepare your trip in the Loire Valley
First of all, you need to rent a car, as the Loire Valley is wide. If you decide to use public transportation or train, it will for sure be challenging and you will certainly loose time. Also you will need to change hotel, inn or Airbnb every night and thus to book it in advance so that you don’t lose any time looking for a place nor traveling from a place to another. How exotic does a road trip in the Loire Valley surrounded by the Loire castles (Châteaux de la Loire in French) sound?
The ideal itinerary
I created this itinerary for me and my family : Fully tested and approved! We were to spend 4 days in the Loire Valley and we wanted to visit the most beautiful castles, knowing that there are about 3000 castles! I made researches, checked different websites and for me, the below itinerary is the best (and the most intense 🙂 ) for 4 days in the Loire Valley (Vallée de la Loire in French).
Morning of Day 1 will exclusively be devoted for transportation to reach the Loire Valley, wherever in France you are. For your information, you will need about 2 hours from Paris to reach Chambord by car.
The Château de Chambord is probably the most famous castle in France. It is majestic, gigantic, full of details : In a word, this castle is magnificent. Even though the castle is empty (a few tapestries but no staging for instance), it is really worth a visit. The “double revolution” staircase is just amazing, I had never seen one before, and I didn’t even know it existed : People who are going up the stairs never cross path with people who are going down the stairs. Such an ingenious design! You can also book a place for the horse show that takes place outside the castle, in its stables. Unfortunately, we could not attend it as it was full at that time, so you should book it online in advance!
This castle was one of our favorite ones, as it is really charming, and I could actually easily picture myself live there. (Dreaming never hurt anybody!) The Château de Cheverny inspired the castle we find in the famous Belgian comics Tintin. Everyone in France knows and loves this comics. This castle is furnished like it used to be, there is a museum dedicated to Tintin and you can play in a maze in the gardens. My kids (and I!) were thrilled with this visit!
The Château de Chenonceau was built on a river and it gives the impression that is is floating. This castle is also furnished and has an extraordinary collection of art pieces such as paintings. This castle is really impressive by its one-of-a-kind architecture and is clearly one of the must-see Loire Valley castles.
Le clos Lucé
We loved Le Clos Lucé! Did you know it was the last home of Leonardo Da Vinci? It is situated downtown Amboise (where there is another castle that I chose not to visit because of time). The Clos Lucé looks more like a big mansion than a castle. Throughout your visit, you can discover Leonardo Da Vinci’s history and what a pionneer he was. You can also visit the gardens and have a look at sculptures made from Da Vinci’s drawings.
The Château d’Azay-le-Rideau was on my itinerary but unfortunately, we could not visit it (due to the Covid situation, the numbers of visitors were restricted and we were not aware about that). It seems to be a very nice castle located in a very small town. So if you have the chance to visit it, let me know in the comments how it was 🙂
Read also : French songs that are built like stories
The Château d’Ussé is very impressive! When you arrive in this town and you are looking around to spot the castle, you will be fascinated once you will find it : it overlooks the town and it is majestuous! It is said that Charles Perrault has been inspired by this castle to describe the Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Although this castle is not as famous as the previous ones, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
And then you have the afternoon to reach another region of France if you wish, like Brittany for example.
I hope that you could travel behind your screen and that you enjoyed this road trip as much as I did. Please share this article and spread this itinerary as it might be helpful for other castles’ lovers!