14 Most Beautiful Chateaux of the Loire Valley (with Map)

The Loire Valley is home to some of the most beautiful chateaux in France.

These majestic castles and palaces were once the playgrounds of the wealthy nobility. But they are now open to visitors to admire their stunning architecture, magnificent gardens, and rich legacy.

Overall, more than 300 castles are nestled in the region’s rolling hills and medieval towns. Each has its own stories – often involving motives like passion, treason, greed and murder – that offer glimpses into a bygone era of French elegance and sophistication.

When visiting France, it is worth stopping at a few chateaux in the Loire Valley to gain a more in-depth feel of their role in the region’s history. Outlined below are some of the most notable of them.

Map of the Chateaux of the Loire Valley

14. Château d’Ussé

The Château of Ussé inspired the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty, which French author Charles Perrault wrote. For this reason, it is often called Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

Initially a medieval fortress, it has a history dating back to 1,000 AD when a Viking warrior called the Devil of Saumur built a fort on the site. In the 15th century, it was partly rebuilt to incorporate Renaissance features such as elegant chimneys and a quaint courtyard.

Its medieval towers, dormant windows, and breathtaking setting near the River Indre and Forest of Chinon have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

While the castle is very Instagrammable from the outside, make sure you visit the inside of it too. There you will visit the dungeons, where much of the story of Sleeping Beauty revolves.

13. Château d’Azay le Rideau

Château d'Azay le Rideau

The Château d’Azay le Rideau is one of our favorite castles as it blends both French and Italian architectural styles.

It also has a terrific location, on an island in the Indre River, around water that reflects its exterior.

The castle was built under King Francois’ patronage, replacing an ancient fortress. However, it was left incomplete, resulting in a unique L-shaped exterior.

The castle has a fascinating history and has played a significant role in wars gone by. It was restored with love and care by the French Centre for National Monuments, resulting in captivating interiors and beautiful facades made of tuffeau stone.

Interestingly, the castle also boasts the oldest surviving staircase of its type in France – the Escalier d’Honneur. While its walls also display several vibrant artworks of French royals, adding to their historical charm.

12. Château de Saumur

Château de Saumur

The Château de Saumur is a stunning medieval castle in the quaint town of Saumur. Visiting it is a must for history and architecture enthusiasts, as it boasts a fascinating history spanning several centuries and a terrific design.

Over the years, it has been a prison and an armory, among other things. Today, it is open to the public as a museum, showcasing its impressive collection of weapons, furniture, and art.
Visitors can explore the castle’s towers, walls, and ramparts, which showcase stunning views of the Loire Valley. They can also go on guided tours that provide in-depth information about its history and architecture.

Additionally, the Château de Saumur hosts various events throughout the year, including medieval festivals and equestrian shows, which only add to its allure and appeal.

11. Château de l’Islette

Château de l'Islette

The Château de l’Islette resides in the embrace of the River Indre. It is renowned for being where the passionate love affair between Rodin and Camille Claudel took place.

This romance inspired Claudel to create her masterpiece, ‘La Petite Châtelaine’ here. Visitors can view a bronze reproduction of it within the château.

Constructed in the early 16th century, the Renaissance château boasts a rectangular main building flanked by two impressive towers. A rampart walk with machicolations also encloses it.
On a guided tour, you can stroll through the living spaces and rooms where the current owners reside. There you will witness a wonderful blend of history and modernity within its interior decoration.

After touring the castle, visitors can rent out row boats and enjoy picnics by the riverside.

10. Château d’Angers

Château d'Angers

The Château d’Angers is a historic castle located within the city of Angers. This impressive fortress was built in the 9th century and has been expanded and renovated many times, making it an architectural masterpiece.

Visiting the Château d’Angers is a unique experience, allowing you to step back in time and explore the castle’s development and history.

It is home to various exhibits, most notably a tapestry museum that features the famous ‘Apocalypse Tapestry’. A stunning work of art, still in excellent condition that dates back to the 14th century.

Whilst there, you can also check out the castle’s towers, walls, and moat, which offer breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding countryside. It is worth bringing binoculars with you to appreciate the incredible scenery fully.

9. Château de Blois

Château de Blois

For the sheer beauty of its architecture, the Château de Bloisis is one of our favorite castles to visit.

Comprising a range of building styles from the middle ages to 17th century, the castle immediately impresses upon entering it, with a majestic statue of a king on horseback. It’s a nice way to be welcomed!

Inside, its stunning Stateroom also captivates with its vibrant artwork, period furniture and intricate designs. While the Architecture Room displays original sculptures from the château grounds.

Within the castle walls, restoration works have revealed a blend of four distinct architectural styles. They include a 13th-century medieval fortress and Gaston of Orlean inspired Classical Wing, which you can see at close quarters.

Should your visit coincide with late summer evenings, you may also want to attend the château’s ‘son et lumière’ – a captivating theatrical performance.

8. Chateau de Villandry

Chateau de Villandry

The Château de Villandry is one of the more family-friendly castles within the Loire Valley.

It is well-known for its exceptional gardens, which include the magnificent Renaissance Gardens. These landscaped lawns are like works of art, with ornamental floral gardens etched into intricate patterns by neat hedge boxes, a water garden, and orangeries.

They also offer a children’s play area, veggie gardens and a lovely terrace area which showcases tremendous views of the magnificent castle.

Built-in 1536, the interior of the château is also noteworthy. It features a fabulous oriental-style drawing room and gallery artwork display that will hold your attention. Similarly, the incredible Louis XV staircase, intertwined with the Michel-Ange de Castellane’s initials, will also leave a lasting impression on you.

7. Château du Clos Lucé

Château du Clos Lucé

A stunning pink-bricked castle that overlooks lush green lawns, the Château du Clos Lucé resembles something from a storybook. It is famously known as being the home of Leonardo da Vinci during the final years of his life.

The castle dates back to the 12th century, and the château primarily acts as a museum that showcases 40 models of machines designed by da Vinci. We found the displays fascinating as they provided an insight into the achievements of this brilliant polymath.

While touring inside, visitors can gain an insight into da Vinci’s personal life by exploring his study, kitchen, bedroom, and a tiny chapel that conveys frescos his admirers created.
You can also check out his art studio, which is brought to life by a fascinating audiovisual production.

6. Château de Sully-sur-Loire

Château de Sully-sur-Loire

The Château de Sully-sur-Loire is a magnificent castle that stands out like an island in the River Loire.

Initially, the castle served as a defensive outpost on the left bank of the Loire in the 12th century. But over the years, it has changed ownership several times and endured war, fires, and even German occupation during WWII.

The Sully family, a prominent French family, once also called it home. A giant marble statue of the first Duke of Sully in the Outer Courtyard commemorates this.

The oldest preserved feature in the castle is the Keep, or Grand Château, which dates back to the 14th century. The building also houses some unique treasures, including the château’s impressive barrel-vaulted ceiling – the Tenture de Psyché tapestry – which was created in the 14th century.

5. Château de Cheverny

Château de Cheverny

If you’re planning a trip to the Loire Valley, you should visit the impressive château just outside of Blois.

This hunting palace, built by architect Jacques Bougier between 1620 and 1640, showcases the pioneering French style that emerged during the reign of Louis XIV.

As one of the first châteaux open to the public, it’s renowned for its stunning tapestries, furniture collection and objects d’art.

What we like most about it is its interior, which features a 3D depiction of famous stories. They include the Chambre du Roi, adorned with five tapestries that portray the fascinating story of Ulysses.

The dining room is also exquisite and features 34 wooden panels depicting Don Quixote’s tale. If you enjoy storytelling in any form, you’ll love visiting the Château de Cheverny.

4. Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire

The Château de Chaumont is a stunning castle on a hill surrounded by a lush park. It was rebuilt a few years after Louis XI ruthlessly had it burnt to the ground in 1465.

This grand home, which once served banquets for the crowned heads of Europe, is now a museum where visitors can explore every inch of the incredible estate.

Visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Loire from the ‘north wing’ and works of incredible architecture, such as the stunning Pepperpot riding school.

Its art gallery displays one of the best collections of ‘one-off’ medallions by Jean-Baptiste Nini’s in France. At the same time, the chateau is also known for its yearly garden festival, a colourful showcase of garden art and contemporary landscape design.

3. Château d’Amboise

Château d'Amboise

The Château of Amboise boasts a stunning view of the River Loire. It is another castle you can see reflected in tranquil waters.

Originally constructed to be a strategic viewpoint during the Neolithic period, it first garnered distinction when King Clovis of France battled the Visigoths for it in the 6th century.

Throughout the years, the château has transformed from a fortress to a royal residence, ultimately becoming a beloved landmark in France. Although restoration work has been ongoing since the 19th century, the castle remains a popular destination for visitors.

Its garden is seamlessly integrated with the castle, and a 3D re-creation of the château’s history can be found in the Orangery.

A captivating light and sound display named ‘The Prophecy of Amboise’ is also held in the summer. It brings to life the court of Charles VIII in a fabulous multi-sensory experience.

2. Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau

The spectacular Château de Chenonceau is one of France’s most fascinating Renaissance and Gothic architecture mixes.

Constructed in the early 1500s by Thomas Bohier, the château is now a historical site. Notably, it spans the River Cher on an iconic bridge, making it an unbelievable photo opportunity.

Whilst inside, the guards’ room will attract you the most, with its 16th-century fireplace and tapestries. It also showcases exposed ceiling joists which bear the mark of ‘C’ for Catherine de Medici.

Little touches like this provide visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the history of the castle as a ‘ladies château’. During which time many prominent women have restored, protected and shaped the integrity of the building.

With a long and fascinating history, exquisite artworks and furnishings, and gorgeous gardens, the château is a place you’ll want to explore fully.

1. Château de Chambord

Château de Chambord

The Château de Chambord is regarded by many as the Loire Valley’s most impressive château, and it’s easy to see why.

The largest château in France, it was built by King Francois I in 1519 as a hunting lodge and to impress foreign dignitaries.

Whilst we don’t place ourselves in that category, what we love most about touring this castle is that it features a really cool HistoPad. This device provides an immersive virtual reality experience of each room’s original design.

The castle was built in the French Renaissance style with a unique architecture, including its famous double-helix staircase, which allows you to ascend without crossing paths with anyone on the other side.

Additionally, 800 crowned salamander sigils on the stone ceiling and intricately woven tapestries documenting the king’s hunting expeditions provide deeper insight into the history of this famous castle.

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