Built and restored during the Renaissance, the castles of the Loire Valley form part of the major tourist attractions in France. It must be said that the concentration of some of France's most beautiful chateaux within a few hundred kilometres of each other makes for an inspiring trip. Although we will not offer here an extensive list of all the chateaux of the Loire Valley (there are literally too many of them), we do advise that the most popular castles are concentrated in the old regions of Anjou, Touraine and Orlénais.
Although all these castles from the French Renaissance that were home to several French monarchs are worth a visit, there are 19 that deserve a special mention: château d'Angers, d'Amboise, d'Azay-le-Rideau, de Beauregard, de Blois, de Brissac, de Chambord, de Cheverny, de Chaumont-sur-Loire, de Chenonceau, de Chinon, de Le Rivau, du Clos-Lucé, de Gizeux, de Langeais, de Loches, de Meung-sur-Loire, de Montpoupon, du Plessis-Bourré, du Plessis-lez-tours, de Les Réaux, de Saumur, de Sully-sur-Loire, de Talcy, d'Ussé, de Valençay, de Villandry et de Villesavin.
Even with the best intentions, it is difficult to fit in visits to all of these 19 castles in just one weekend. To help you choose which chateaux to visit, Easyvoyage has chosen a few amongst these 19 which really are unmissable. Firstly, there is Chateau de Blois whose architecture provides an example of a mix of gothic, renaissance and classical styles and which was the first choice of residence for the Kings of France during the Renaissance period. A 'prototype' of the chateaux of the Loire Valley, Blois is a great place to start your visit of the regions castles.
Just 25 minutes down the road, you will find the Chateau de Chambord, the largest and most prestigious of all the castles from the French Renaissance. The chateau comprises many impressive architectural feats, such as the 'double helix' staircase, which spans three floors and forms the centerpiece of the impressive building. If you have time, it is also worth seeing the Chateau de Cheverny which was built in a more classical style than Blois and Chambord, and which provided the inspiration for Hervé's Chateau de Moulinsart in his Tintin comics. Finally, the Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau, described by Balzac as 'the diamond of the Indre' (an area of the Loire Valley), was built in the middle of the Indre River and is a great example of the Italian architecture imported during the French Renaissance.A weekend discovering National Parks A weekend exploring gardens in the Champagne-Ardenne