Whether you tour France’s châteaux of the Loire Valley by bike, bus or car, one thing remains constant: you won’t be disappointed.
Each château (castle) is impeccably preserved/restored and unique in its architectural appearance and history.
Most of the châteaux offer guided tours. I highly recommend taking one to get a true sense of the historical particularities of each of these impressive structures.
Only have time to visit a few? Here is a brief overview three of our favorites:
Château de Blois: Located in the middle of the charming city of Blois, Château de Blois is comprised of a fascinating architectural mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Classic styles. Historically, Blois is known as the place where Jean d’Arc (Joan of Arc) received her blessing by the Archbishop of Reims in 1429 before going off to war. I highly recommend staying the night in Blois so that you can catch the “light and sound show” narrated by some of the “historical figures” who inhabited this castle at various points throughout its history.
Château de Chenonceau: A true crowd pleaser, Chenonceau was built in early Renaissance style, and stretches across the Cher River. After the Château de Versailles, it is the most frequently visited château in France. One wing of Chenonceau was used as a hospital during WW1, and the château served as a means of escape for those being persecuted by the Nazis during WWII (it stood between the Nazi occupied zone of the Cher River and the Vichy side on the other bank). Today, Chenonceau is known for its impeccable gardens and grounds.
Château de Chambord: The very image of a “fairytale” castle, Chambord is the perfect example of French Renaissance architecture. The largest of the Loire Valley châteaux, Chambord was originally constructed as a hunting lodge for King François I. It was also conveniently adjacent to the Château de Muides, home of the Comtesse de Thoury, François’ mistress.