Here's a list of other related guides that you may wish to discover.Loire Valley
Explore the ‘route de Jaques Coeur', a historical trail taking you past many chateaux's, manors, abbeys and churches.
The Loire Valley is known as 'the garden of France', so you can visit a number of France's must-see gardens. For instance, the gardens of the Chateaux de Villandry, which are considered some of the best gardens in France, consisting of a vegetable 'kitchen garden' (which has been organic since 2009), an impressively symmetrical 'cross garden', a gorgeous water garden, and more. The site is well worth a visit, and you must take a look at the interior of the Renaissance chateaux, one of the jewels of World Heritage sites. Another must-see of the Loire region gardens is the Jardin d'atmosphere du Petit Bordeaux, in Saint-Biez-en-Belin near Le Mans. It was voted the 'Preferred garden of the French in 2014 by the France2 television channel. This sweet and charming garden covers 1.5 hectares and has over 4000 different types of plants, flowers and grasses.
Châteaux of the Loire Valley
Think of the Loire Valley and one immediately envisages breathtaking chateaux – there are more than three hundred in the area. Built around the 17th – 18th century in the heyday of French royalty most of these chateaux have magnificent ornamental gardens which can be as interesting as the chateaux themselves. Just 2 hours southwest of Paris is France’s wonderful array of the most amazing stately properties you will ever see. Wander through sumptuous interiors, cared for by noble families who have lived there for centuries and marvel at the tapestries, the furniture and the sheer size of some of them. Many are open to the public as well as the ornamental gardens. Listed below are just a few to visit and are open to the public:
Chateau de Chenonceau. This château is one of the favourites for its beauty and history. If you have read the biographies of Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers, this château is nicknamed the “Château des Dames” because King Henry II gave this castle to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. When he died, his wife, the Queen Catherine de Medici evicted Diane and installed herself there. Everywhere you’ll see the symbols HDC, originally it was H and D entwined and after the King’s death Catherine added her initial C.
Chateau de Chambord. Built as a hunting lodge for François I, Château de Chambord is one of the finest examples of the Renaissance architecture in France. It took over 30 years to build during the 16th century and it’s one of the most extravagant châteaux with elaborate rooftop of 800 sculpted columns and over 440 rooms and 85 staircases, making it the largest château in the Loire Valley.
Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau Built in the reign of King Francois I Chateau Azay-le-Rideau is a small and charmingly romantic castle with Italian style architecture.
Chateau de Chaumont Built on the 10th century remnants of a fortress built to protect Blois, the Chateau de Chaumont was built in the years between 1465 and 1510 by Charles I and Charles II d’Amboise. The Château de Chaumont was purchased by Catherine de Medici a year after Henry II’s death and it was there that she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. In 1559 she forced Diane de Poitiers to exchange the Château de Chenonceau for the Château de Chaumont.
Chateau d’Usse The Chateau d’Ussé is where Charles Perrault the author of Sleeping Beauty (La Belle au Bois Dormant) was inspired to use this castle as Sleeping Beauty’s castle and later on it was depicted by Walt Disney. Located on the edge of the Chinon Forest overlooking the Indre River the chateau sits atop the bank along the river and has terraced gardens.
Chateau de Villandry For those who have a passion for gardens, then Chateau de Villandry is for you as it has the most spectacular gardens. Completed in 1536, the chateau was built in a Renaissance style by Jean le Breton, one of François I’s Finance Ministers.
Chateau de Blois The Château de Blois sits right at the Blois’ city centre. The wings and buildings were built between the 13th and 17th century and they surround a wonderful central courtyard. The François I wing houses the chateau’s most famous feature – a spiral staircase. The chateau was the location where the Archbishop of Reims blessed Joan of Arc before her march on Orleans in 1429 and has also served as the residence of many French kings.
Chateau de Cheverny Chateau de Cheverny was built the chateau between 1624 and 1630 by Philippe Hurault. Renowned for its exquisite interior which was renovated in 1768, the chateau holds a large collection of tapestries, furniture and artwork.