My Top 3 Loire Valley Castles
Visiting Loire Valley castles was for a long time one of my dream trips. And as it happens often with the Law of attraction, the opportunity came to me unexpectedly. Like every good surprise, this trip was exciting and memorable and resulted in many, too many, beautiful photos.
Loire Valley covers a region of 170 km in the central part of France. From more than one hundred castles opened to the public, you can limit the list to a few that absolutely deserve to be seen. The top castles in Loire Valley are different from one another but all were constructed during a French historical period when culture and richness synonyms.
If you have a limited time to spend in the area, you will have time for no more than three or four castles to see. The travel between each of them takes time. You should foresee some additional time for exploring the beautiful small villages and typical markets that you will always find around the castles.
1 – Villandry Castle
The castle is open all year round
Entrance fee is 10 €
My personal favorite, for several reasons, is the Villandry Castle. The first reason is that the castle has the best-preserved interior among all. The rooms are fully furnished, the walls are decorated with paintings and lavish wallpapers, and the dining tables are set for dinner… The chandeliers are lighted and the flowers in the pots are real (orchids).
The castle is privately owned. This is probably the secret of its well-maintained beauty. It feels like you can actually live there, doesn’t feel like a museum. You will need at least a half day to see its elegant rooms, pay attention to the beautiful objects and learn the stories of the historical artifacts. Every corner in this home is enchanting. I’m sure every travelling woman will enjoy the time spent here. Which girl doesn’t love to be a princess, at least for a day?!
After long walk inside the building, you will spend some time in the gardens. One of the most beautiful castle gardens (if not the most beautiful in Loire Valley) looks like an ever-green labyrinth with colorful spots which colors depend on the seasonal flowers.
2 – Chambord Castle
The castle is open all year round
Entrance fee – 11 €
There is a parking fee – 4 € for the whole day
The eclectic Chambord Castle cannot offer you the beautiful setting of Villandry but has its own charming side. The castle was built and used as a hunting lodge of the king. Inside, the rooms are rustic and almost empty. Sometimes the salons are used for art exhibitions but apart this there is not much to see inside.
But don’t stop at the first floor. Climb the stairs and the spiral staircase will bring you to the top. From a terrace with a 360-degree view of the park, you will see the beautiful forest surrounding the castle. Just imagine the king and his hunting companions coming back from a day in the woods!
The best thing about this Loire Valley castle is that you can have a choice of several outdoor activities. For the children there is a riding show, for romantic getaway – you can rent a boat. What you can do surely for free is to walk around or ride your bicycle. There are good spots for picnicking as well.
3 – Azay-le-Rideau Castle
This castle also is open during the whole year
The entrance fee is 6.50 €
In comparison with the previous two, the small castle of Azay-le-Rideau looks like a dollhouse. It is not so impressive but has very charming surroundings. To reach the castle, you have to leave your car at the parking in the village’s center, then walk on the small pedestrian street filled with small boutiques and restaurants. Of course, all of them are so typically French that you will end up stopping at every corner to have a closer look.
The interiors look empty but still have some peculiarities you might wanna see. I loved the narrow wooden staircases bringing the curious visitor up to the attic. The surrounding area is much more enjoyable and you, like me and many other people visiting the castle, will fancy a short walk or sunbathe on the chairs scattered around.
What do you feel when visiting castles? Curiosity, melancholy or some sort of fear? In these three Loire Valley castles, you will feel all of these and a lot more!
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