The Loire region is famous for its beautiful castles, about 100 castles stretching from east to west along the Loire river.
With about a week of course it was impossible to visit all of these castles so we had to select some for this visit. The ones we chose were not entirely popular because we wanted to avoid encountering too many tourists. Although it was not the peak tourist season, we knew there were still many tourists who thought like us.
After this trip, we were completely satisfied with our choices. 8 castles, each has its own charm.
1. Château de Langeais – Langeais Castle
Langeais Castle is one of the most famous examples of medieval architecture, located right in the heart of the beautiful town of Langeais. Langeais Castle, was not only the fortress but also the prince’s residence, has many valuable assets: carved furniture and artworks reminiscent of the lives of great lords.
2. Château d’Ussé – Ussé Castle
This castle is famous for the story “Sleeping Beauty,” a fairy tale by Charles Perrault. Currently, the family of Blacas, the owner of the castle still lives here. Each year, people exhibit a collection of ancient costumes at the castle.
What I like most here is that from the small windows of the castle, we can admire the beautiful scenery outside with many different angles.
3. Château de Chinon – Chino Castle
The Royal Chinon Fortress is located on the bank of the Vienne River in Chinon, overlooking the town. It has been recognized by the French Ministry of Culture as a historical site since 1840. The castle now has a museum inside, attracting many tourists.
4. Château Azay-le-Rideau – Azay-le-Rideau Castle
This is our favorite castle, a beautiful romantic little castle, located on a small lake, surrounded by a small green garden. For 150 years, Azay Castle has been awarded the one of the most beautiful Renaissance castles in the Val de Loire region.
When buying tickets to Azay Castle, we will receive a discount when buying tickets to Rivau Castle, Villandry Castle, Langeais Castle, Saché Castle, Rabelais Museum, Forteresse Royale de Chinon, Fontevraud Royal Monastery and discounted prices when buying wine in the cellar at the castle Aulée and the wine cellar Pierre et Bertrand Couly.
5. Château de Villandry – Villandry Castle
Villandry Castle is the last of the great castles of the Loire River built during the Renaissance. Villandry is considered one of the jewels of the world heritage. Although the castle is famous for its elegant architecture, we are captivated by the beautiful gardens here. Around the castle are all 7 gardens: ornamental gardens, water garden, vegetable garden, wood garden, mazes, herb garden and sun gardens. So to visit all these, you need to walk quite a lot. But you will be well rewarded because every corner of this place is beautiful.
View from above, the castle and all gardens create a vivid, colorful and enchanting picture.
6. Château de Saumur – Saumur Castle
The castle was built in the 10th century, as a fortified stronghold against the Norman attacks. After being destroyed in 1067, the castle was rebuilt by King Henry II of England in the 12th century. The main attraction of the castle is that we can look over the town. We didn’t come here in the evening but I was sure when the lights are on, the view from here down the town and the bridge across the river would be very nice.
7. Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire – Chaumont-sure-Loire Castle
Chaumont-sure-Loire Castle is a UNESCO world heritage site. It represents both the defensive architecture of the Gothic period and the decorative architecture of the Renaissance period. This is an important convergence of art and nature, focusing on the relationship between nature and culture, artistic creation and the impact of landscape and heritage and contemporary art. So, every year this place hold art exhibitions.
If you want to visit this place, it will take an entire day so you need to be prepared to walk! We can have lunch at restaurants in the garden, bring ready meals to picnic in the gardens with romantic views or go downtown for lunch and then come back, so it’s best to keep our tickets carefully.
8. Château de Chenonceau – Chenonceau Castle
This castle is also known as the Castle of the Ladies because it was built, remodeled and belonged to 7 ladies of all periods. This is one of the most famous castles in the Loire region, so the amount of visitors to this place is considered as much as to the castle of Versailles.
Besides the beautiful vegetable gardens, ornamental gardens and forests, the castle also attracts visitors by its luxuriously decorated interiors of colorful renaissance.
There are restaurants and a tea house in the courtyard of the castle. The self-service lunch here is pretty good with reasonable price. In addition, we can also buy wine when visiting the castle cellar.
The thing I like especially in castles is the blooming flower garden. Although it was autumn, it was full of flowers. If it had been spring and summer, there would have been many more blooming colorful flowers.
When visiting the Loire castles, you should go by car along the Loire river, through beautiful small villages, poetic river views, green fields with cows, horses, or sheep grazing and that way is also more convenient because the transportation to some castles and beautiful scenery is quite limited.
Another reason we did not choose to visit all of the region’s most famous castles on this occasion was to give us a reason to return to this charming area.