Loire Valley

Best Castles in the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is a fertile region that spans across Central France. It’s home not only to beautiful rivers and vineyards, but hundreds of castles as well. These Loire Valley castles range in their history and architecture making a tour through the valley a unique experience. If you’re planning to take a trip to this region, you’ll definitely want to make sure to visit some of the best Loire castles in the area, some of which are described below.

 

19 Famous Castles to visit in the Loire Valley

1. Château of Chambord

Castles in Loire Valley Château-of-Chambord

The Château of Chambord was built in 1519 by François I and features stunning French Renaissance architecture. Considered to be one the best chateaux in Loire Valley, this UNESCO site offers tours of its interior where you can view its intricate architecture and impressive tapestry collection. When done exploring it, you can step outside into its formal garden to find native French plants. You can also explore the surrounding park which is filled with wild boars, roe deer, and bats as well as numerous walking trails. In addition to this, the castle has a restaurant and offers horse carriage rides around the grounds. There is also a Horse and Bird of Prey Show. The castle is opened year-round although times vary throughout the year. Tickets are necessary and range in prices depending on ages.

Where: Château

When: 1519

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: From 30 March to 27 october : 9 a.m -6 p.m

28 October to 29 March: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m

2. Château of Sully-sur-Loire

Best castles in Loire Valley Château-of-Sully-sur-Loire

This beautiful Loire Valley chateaux, which can be translated to the Castle of Sully, is a medieval fortress that was eventually turned into a residence. It is where Duke de Sully once lived and features beautiful Renaissance architecture. There are about two floors guests can explore which include various collections of art. The castle has a few winding staircases, a moat, and plenty of towers to walk through. Guided tours are available in both French and English and last about an hour and a half, although their times vary depending on the time of year you visit. Keep in mind photography is allowed but without flash.

Where: Chemin de la Salle Verte

When: 1395

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: 10:00 am – 06:00 pm

3. Château of Blois

Famous Castles in Loire Valley Château-of-Bloi

The Château of Blois is situated within the center of the city of Blois and was built in 1608, although various additions have been added since then. It features four wings which display four different architectural styles from the 14th-17th centuries. The castle once housed seven kings and ten queens and was designated a historic monument in France in 1845.

You can take a tour of the castle’s interior which includes a handful of beautiful portraits and intricate wall carvings. There’s also a fine arts museum inside for guests to visit which has over 35,000 pieces in it. If you don’t mind taking some time to climb up a large staircase, you can reach the top of the castle’s tower which will give you stunning views of the Loire River. After exploring the castle, you can step outside to its grounds where you can visit a fragrant rose garden.

This castle also hosts a Sound and Light Show at night which lights the castle up in various colors and has special effects to help tell guests about the castle’s history in a unique way. Keep in mind separate tickets are required to attend the show.

Where: Βlois

When: 1608

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit:   2 January – 31 March: 10 am – 5 pm

1 April – 30 June: 9 am – 6:30 pm

1 July to 31 August: 9 am – 7 pm

1 September – 3 November: 9 am – 6:30 pm

4 November – 31 December: 10 am – 5 pm

4. Château of Cheverny

Castles in Loire Valley Château-of-Cheverny

This magnificent chateaux of the Loire showcase beautiful displays of Classical architecture and is known for remaining in the Hurault family for over 600 years. This structure is considered to be one of the most furnished castles in the Loire Valley and allows you to view many pieces of historic furniture and art. In addition to this, the castle is very family-friendly as it offers various activities for children, like a mystery game where kids can hunt through the castle to search for clues to solve a crime.

The Château of Cheverny also features gardens which are filled with wisteria and tulips as well as a labyrinth. There’s also a boutique and cafe for guests to stop by at. In addition to this, the castle hosts events throughout the year, like a Venetian weekend which brings the popular Carnevale atmosphere to its grounds. The castle is opened at various times throughout the year and ticket rates depend on the time of year that you visit.

Where: Cheverny

When: 1634

Style: Renaissance 

Open for visit: From 01/04 till 30/09  non-stop from 9.15am till 6.30pm.

From 01/01 till 31/03 and from 01/10 till 31/12    non-stop from 10 am till 5 pm.

5. Château de Chaumont

Best castles in Loire Valley Chaumont-sur-Loire-Château

The Château de Chaumont was built in 933 by Odo I before eventually being destroyed by Louis XI and then later rebuilt in the 15th-century. The castle is home to many distinctive architectural details, including medallions by famed Italian sculptor Jean-Baptiste Nini. You can tour the interior of the castle or walk around its grounds where you’ll find chestnut trees, bridges, and large wildflower fields.

There are also stables (where you can see antique horse-drawn vehicles), a bee house, vegetable garden, and pet cemetery. In addition to this, the castle hosts various art shows throughout the year and is home to the International Garden Festival. This structure is opened at different times throughout the year but has longer hours during the summer. Ticket rates also vary depending on the time of year you decide to stop by.

Where: Chaumont-sur-Loire,

When: 18th Century

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: 10:00 a.m – 06:30 p.m

6. Château de Chenonceau

Famous Castles in Loire Valley Château-de-Chenonceau

The Château de Chenonceau towers over the nearby Cher River and features a stunning mixture of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Built in 1513, the castle is home to a large collection of 16th to 17th-century tapestries and numerous intricately decorated rooms you can tour. The castle is known for its many gardens which include various species of plants, lakes, and bridges. You can also attend a unique event during the summer the castle hosts which allows you to take a night walk through the gardens which are illuminated by soft lanterns and candles.

This castle hosts floral workshops throughout the week and has a fine dining restaurant where you can grab a bite to eat. The castle is opened all year although the times depend on the season. Keep in mind tickets are necessary to enter and prices vary on ages.

Where:  Chenonceaux

When: 11th Century

Style: Gothic

Open for visit: 

1 January – 8 February   9:30 to 17:00
9 February – 5 April    9:30 to 17:00
6 April – 29 May   9:00 to 18:00
30 May – 5 July   9:00 to 19:00
6 July – 18 August   9:00 to 19: 30
19 August – 29 September   9:00 to 19:00
30 September – 11 November   9:00 to 18:00
12 November – 20 December   9:30 to 16:30
21 – 31 December   9:30 to 17:30

7. Château d’Amboise

Castles in Loire Valley Château-d’Amboise

This luxurious castle was once a family residence before being taken over by the French monarchy in the 15th-century. Since then, the castle has been visited by many royal families and historical figures, including Leonardo da Vinci. This UNESCO site was designated a French historic monument in 1840.

You can tour the interior of this castle and see its many beautiful Gothic carvings. There are also balconies you can climb to get stunning views of the Loire Valley. Besides this, the castle has manicured gardens for guests to explore as well as a small cafe that serves fresh pastries.

The Château d’Amboise is opened throughout the year from 9 AM- 6 PM and ticket rates vary on ages. You can take a self-guided tour of the castle or sign up for a behind-the-scenes guided tour which will take you to a few closed-off areas, although keep in mind this might cost a bit extra.

Where: Amboise

When: 15th Century

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: 09:00 a.m – 07 :00 p.m

8. Château de Villandry

Best castles in Loire Valley Château-de-Villandry

The Château de Villandry, an exquisite country house, was built in 1536 and rests on the banks of the Loire River. The house features beautiful displays of avant-garde architecture which can be viewed both indoors and outdoors. You can take a tour of the house to see various rooms which include the drawing room, dining room, kitchen, library, and numerous bedrooms. You’ll also find a few photography and art exhibits inside.

While it has beautiful architecture, the Château de Villandry is mainly known for its flourishing gardens. You’ll find plenty you can wander through, like the ornamental garden, kitchen garden, moat garden, and pavilion garden, which are filled with various types of plants. There’s also an organic garden on the grounds where you can learn about natural growing methods.

Where: Villandry

When: 1536

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: October to March: 10 am to 5 pm,  April to September: 9 am to 6 pm

9. Château d’Azay-le-Rideau

Famous Castles in Loire Valley Château-d'Azay-le-Rideau

The Château d’Azay-le-Rideau features early French Renaissance architecture and was built around 1518-1527 by King Francis I. Situated next to the Indre River, this castle is especially known for its façades and water mirror which has the castle brilliantly reflected in the river. Tours can be taken of its interior where you can view many different rooms, including a Renaissance bedroom, which features various types of textiles and wall mattings.

There is also a surrounding park which is filled with foreign and native plant species including cedars and American tulip trees. It’s also home to numerous types of wildlife like dragonflies and bats. The castle is opened all year although times vary on seasons. Tickets are also required and prices reflect age ranges.

Where: Azay-le-Rideau

When: Built between 1518 and 1527

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: 1st Jan – 31th Mar 10:00 – 17:15

1/4 – 30/6  9.30 am – 18.00 pm

1/7 – 31/8  9.30 am – 19.00 pm

1/9 – 30/9   9.30 am – 18.00 pm

1/10 – 31/12  10.00 am – 17.15 pm

10. Château du Clos Lucé

Castles in Loire Valley Château-du-Clos-Lucé

Once known as Manoir du Cloux, the Château du Clos Lucé was built in 1106 and is best known for being where Leonardo da Vinci took his last breath before dying in one of the castle’s bedrooms. You can tour its interior to view the pink bricks that make up the castle or the outdoor gardens which feature sculptures of da Vinci’s experiments.

In addition to this, the castle has a small crêperie where you can grab a quick bite to eat while sitting next to fragrant Mona Lisa roses. For dinner, you can stop by the L’Auberge du Prieurė where you can dine by candlelight on Renaissance-era meals.

There’s also a large Renaissance music festival during the fall you can attend. Tickets can be bought online for a self-tour and prices vary depending on ages.

Where: Amboise

When: 1519

Style: Gothic

Open for visit: January: 10.00 am to 6.00 pm
February – June: 9.00 am to  7.00 pm
July – August: 9.00 am to 8.00 pm
September – October: 9.00 am to 7.00 pm
November – December: 9.00 to 6.00 pm

11. Château de Chinon

Best castles in Loire Valley Chateau-de-Chinon11.-Chateau-de-Chinon

The Château de Chinon resides near the Vienne River and was founded by Theobald I. The medieval fortress was also visited by Joan of Arc. This UNESCO castle is filled with a plethora of medieval-era artifacts, including knights armor and shields. You can also stop by its clock tower. The Château de Chinon is opened throughout the year although times vary for different seasons. Tickets are required for guests, although those who are seven years old and younger can enter for free.

Where: Chinon

When: 1160

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: January – February and November – December: 9.30am – 5pm
March – April and September – October: 9.30am – 6pm
1st May – 31st August: 9.30am – 7pm

12. Château de Loches

Famous Castles in Loire Valley Chateau-de-Chinon11.-Chateau-de-Chinon

The Château de Loches was built in the 9th-century by King Philip II of France. The castle is situated near the Indre River and is known for its many towers and for housing the largest collection of medieval armor in the area. Tours can be taken of the interior where guests can view massive fireplaces, lanterns, and tapestries. You can also visit the Agnes Sorel Tower which has vibrant stained glass windows. Tickets are required to enter although children 12 years and younger can enter without one.

Where: Loches

When: 9th Century

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: 1st April – 30th September: 9am – 7pm
1st October – 31st March: 9.30am – 5pm
Closed: 1st January and 25th December

13. Château de Meung-sur-Loire

Castles in Loire Valley Château-de-Meung

Created in the 12th-century, the Château de Meung-sur-Loire was once the home of the Bishops of Orléans before being destroyed and rebuilt numerous times in the years to come. Because of this, the castle is constructed with a mixture of architecture and rooms from different time periods, like a 16th-century spiral staircase and a 13th-century storeroom. There’s also a medieval dungeon you can visit while here. Besides this, the castle has a few French and English-style gardens, including one that hides the ruins of an ancient pavilion.

The castle is opened at different times throughout the year. Tickets are required and vary in their prices depending on the tour you decide to take although some discounts are available.

Where: Meung-sur-Loire

When: 12th Century

Style: Classical

Open for visit: 10:00 am – 07:00 pm

14. Château d’Ussé

Best castles in Loire Valley Château-d'Ussé

The Château d’Ussé resides next to the peaceful Chinon Forest and overlooks the nearby Indre Valley. Built in the 11th-century by Gueldin de Saumur, it later served as the home to the Duke of Blacas. This castle is also believed to be where writer Charles Perrault was inspired to write Sleeping Beauty.

You can tour the interior where you’ll find plenty of rooms to explore, like the Guard Room, King’s Chamber, and Vauban Salon, which houses an antique Florentine cabinet filled with secret compartments. You can also visit the Vault downstairs which is one of the oldest rooms in the castle.

The castle is also home to formal French gardens which are filled with fountains and lemon trees. Each year the castle hosts a special exhibit for guests to view, the most current being one focused on embroidery. Ticket prices range on ages although those eight years and younger can enter for free.

Where: Rigny-Ussé

When: 17th Century

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: From 11th February to 31st March: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
From 1st April to 30th September: 10.00 am – 7.00 pm
From 1st October to 11th November: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm

15. Château de Saumur

Famous Castles in Loire Valley Château-de-Saumur

This 10th-century castle is located in the small town of Saumur and was built by Theobald I to help protect against possible Norman invasions. This structure is packed with collections of various decorative arts, tapestries, and furniture. There’s also a horse exhibit which contains important horseback riding equipment like bits and saddles. The castle is opened at different times throughout the year and requires a ticket in order to enter, although there are reduced rates for some tours.

Where: Saumur

When: 10th Century

Style: Gothic

Open for visit: 

From 9th February to 31th March, from 1st October to 31th December: from Tuesday to Sunday and bank holiday Mondays 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

From 1st April to 30th June; from 1st to 30th September: from Tuesday to Sunday and bank holiday Mondays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

From 1st July to 31st August: every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

16. Château de Langeais

Castles in Loire Valley Château-de-Langeais

The Château de Langeais is a medieval castle that rests near the Roumer River. Built in the 10th-century by Fulk Nerra, it was eventually attacked and taken over by Odo I. The castle features over 15 furnished rooms for guests to explore, many of which are decorated to recreate the Middle Ages. The castle also has an exhibit of wax figures that recreates a royal medieval wedding. When you’re done touring the interior, you can step outside to get a breath of fresh air in the nearby park. The castle is opened year-round and offers different types of tours for groups and families.

Where: Langeais

When: 10th Century

Style: Romanesque

Open for visit: 9.30am-6.30pm Apr–mid-Nov, 10am-5pm mid-Nov–Mar

17. Château de Beauregard

Best castles in Loire Valley Château-de-Beauregard

The Château de Beauregard was created in 1545 and features Renaissance architecture. It serves as the King’s Minister’s residence and offers tours where you can see fireplaces, intricate woodworkings, an old library, and bell’s study. There’s also a portrait gallery inside which features numerous portraits of historical French royal figures in chronological order, one of the only of its kind in Europe. When you’re done exploring the interior, you can visit the castle’s park and gardens or grab a bite to eat at its small cafe. Guided tours are available in both French and English although specific tickets and times for them will vary.

Where:  Cellettes

When: 1545

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: 10:00 am – 07:00 pm

18. Château de Valençay

Famous Castles in Loire Valley Château-de-Valençay

The Château de Valençay is best known for being home to the d’Estampes and Talleyrand-Périgard families. It’s also the location of where Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Pėrigard, the former minister of foreign affairs for France, is buried. Overlooking the Nahon River, the castle showcases Renaissance architecture and has many grand rooms for guests to explore, like the Lounge, Blue Salon, and Hall of Treasures. The interior is also filled with different collections of 18th-century furniture.

Where: Valençay

When:  1540

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit:  March, April: 10:30 am to 6:00 pm
May, September: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
June: 9:30 am to 6:30 pm
July, August: 9:30 am to 7:00 pm
Oct., nov. (to 11th): 10:30 am to 5:00 pm

19. Château de Brézé

Castles in Loire Valley Château-de-Brézé

This small structure was built during the 11th-19th centuries and features a mixture of medieval and Renaissance architecture. This dry-moated castle offers tours where you’ll be able to view its drawbridge and explore its dark underground tunnels. There are also gardens nearby you can wander through. In addition to tours, the Château de Brézé offers various events throughout the year, like a medieval jousting tournament. Tickets are necessary and prices depend on ages, although there are small discounts for families.

Where: Brézé

When:  between the 11th and 19th centuries.

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: 10:00 am – 6:30 pm

The castles that are scattered around the Loire Valley are not only beautiful structures with intricate architecture but ones that each have their own unique story. A visit to these best castles in the Loire Valley will certainly be a trip you’ll never forget.