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Châteaux of the Loire Travel guide

Saumurois, Château de Brissac Château d'Amboise, the Council Chamber Château de Chambord at sunset Château du Rivau
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Châteaux of the Loire : Michelin's recommendations

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The castles in the Loire Valley look like a vision straight out of a fairytale with their many lanterns, gables, dormer windows, columns, lofty chimneys, turrets and pinnacles! Chambord, Chenonceau and Azay-le-Rideau illustrate a key period in the history of architecture and also a certain sensibility. Before they were built, architecture and buildings had never really inspired people in quite the same way.
On closer examination, the legacy of the Loire Valley is incredibly diverse, ranging from fortresses (like Angers and Loches) to Renaissance palaces ( Blois and Amboise) and classic castles ( Azay-le-Rideau, Chaumont-sur-Loire and Cheverny).
In addition to fascinating architecture, some castles are also of interest for other reasons such as the tapestry collections at Brissac and Langeais, furniture at Serrant (a historic monument), or the garden at Villandry.
The Loire Valley castles can be visited all year long, and children are welcome too: fifty sites have created fun and instructive games for them. Huddled around them are towns with rich pasts and art treasures – Blois, Tours, Chinon, Angers – and homes evoking the memory of Rabelais, Descartes, Leonardo da Vinci and Balzac.
The Loire, Europe’s last untamed river, is the natural setting that has allowed these towns and castles to be preserved throughout the ages. Nowadays the sloping vineyards on its banks produce divine Loire Valley wines including Vouvray, Saumur, Bourgueil and Sancerre.

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Châteaux of the Loire : Must-see towns and regions

  • Angers

    Stronghold of the Plantagenêt dynasty and later a flourishing Renaissance city, Angers retains some of the colossal walls of its medieval fortress dating from the time of King René of Anjou, and the e...

  • Amboise

    Perched on the left bank of the Loire, the lovely town of Amboise is redolent of the memory of illustrious characters. The château that dominates the town and the river has been host to Louis XI, Char...

  • Blois

    Stretching out along the River Loire, Blois has preserved many of its steep and tortuous alleys from the Middle Ages, linked here and there by flights of stairs. There is a three-colour harmony charac...

  • Chinon

    It was in Chinon’s remarkable medieval fortress that Joan of Arc recognised a disguised Charles VII as the future king of France. Leaving its walls, the quaysides of the River Vienne lead to the medie...

  • Le Mans

    Pork products, insurance and motor racing could be cited to give a summary of Le Mans, but that would be an inaccurate picture. One of France’s four “red cities” (on account of the hue of its houses) ...

  • Loches

    Encompassing the best and worst of France’s history, from the gracious smile of Agnès Sorel to the horrific cages of Louis XI, Loches is an imposing military fortress that can be explored from top to ...

  • Saumur

    Saumur is renowned for its horses and especially its Cadre Noir stables, a French cavalry centre of excellence that visitors should not miss (the acrobatics on horseback are remarkable). The “pearl of...

  • Tours

    Not all the masterpieces remain in the castles of the Loire Valley; many can also be seen in the Compagnonnage Museum in Tours. In addition, the capital of the region immortalised as “La Belle Tourain...

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