If you love castles and castles, you must visit France to the Loire Valley. The chateaux on the Loire are some of the most beautiful in the world and there are about 2,000 of them in total. Supposedly, this is a kind of French Hollywood, in the past, whoever meant something owned a chateau on the Loire. But let’s now take a look at the most beautiful castles on the Loire to see.
We’ve planned a 5-6 day journey that will take you through seven of the most beautiful castles in the Loire Valley. You’ll see majestic buildings, beautiful gardens, small towns and of course taste delicious French wine. Don’t forget to download our complete route map, including all recommended places, directly to your phone.
Where to stay in the Loire Valley
We thought for a long time whether it would be more convenient to move to a new accommodation every day or to start from the same place. In the end, we decided that it would be best if we stayed in one place. We chose the city of Blois, mainly because there are plenty of restaurants, shops and, as we discovered, excellent bakeries that made every morning more enjoyable.
When to go to the Loire Chateaux
The main tourist season is from May to September, when the weather is ideal for walks through the castle parks and castle tours. However, even during spring and autumn it is beautiful here, in spring the gardens come alive with flowers, in autumn they shine with warm colours. The pre-Christmas period has something to offer, as some castles have impressive Christmas decorations.
How to get from the Czech Republic to the chateaux on the Loire?
From the Czech Republic it is about 1200 km, so it is much more convenient to fly by plane to Paris, where you can rent a car. Caution if you fly to the airport Orly they have a limited supply of cars on the weekend. So we flew with Air France at Charles de Gaulle where you can rent and return a car at night without any problems. As always, we rented the car through RentalCars, with whom we have never had a problem (we have to knock ☺️).
The 7 most beautiful castles on the Loire
Unless you plan to spend several years in the Loire, it is not in your power to visit all of the 2,000 castles you will find here. We have therefore prepared a selection of the best ones to visit. Of course, everyone has different tastes and we all have different experiences when travelling, so not everyone has to agree with us. 😬
1) Chambord Castle
Chambord Castle is one of the most famous castles in the Loire Valley and is definitely worth a visit. Ideally, head here first thing in the morning and if you don’t want to wait in a long queue for tickets, buy them in advance, for example through the reliable GetYourGuide portal, which we recommended in Rome (the Italian system didn’t work, but GetYourGuide did, thankfully) and in Seville (we didn’t have to wait in a queue for several hours),
The castle was built as a hunting lodge for Francis I and is known for its magnificent Renaissance architecture. The local fascinating two-storey spiral staircase is said to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself.
The castle is huge, but even if you get bored of the interiors, climb to the top for a spectacular view of the castle and gardens.
Chateau Chenonceau is often referred to as “the chateau of women” because it has historically been primarily owned by women. One of the most beautiful, it is characterized by its postcard gallery across the Cher River.
Be sure to go to the castle again some day first thing in the morning, because the crowds of tourists flow here as well. There is often a waiting list for tickets, so be sure to buy them in advance, for example via GetYourGuide.
The castle also has quite extensive gardens, but there is not much shade. It is privately owned by the Menier family, which also owns the famous chocolate factory. ☺️
Chaumont Castle is famous for its garden festival. We recommend going to this castle first thing in the morning, because it takes 10 minutes to walk from the car park to the castle. Inside, the castle is not very large, but the gardens are probably the largest of all (at least it felt like it to us and we were not able to explore them in the afternoon as we would have liked).
Lovers of houseplants and cacti will find a lot to like here, as they have beautiful greenhouses with monsters and succulents.
Chaumont Castle is also historically significant, having been donated by Catherine de Medici to Diana de Poitiers. This castle is now publicly owned and hosts various cultural events. Tickets can again be purchased in advance on GetYourGuide.
Blois Castle is considered one of the most important historical monuments in France. It was the seat of seven French kings and ten queens. JIts architecture includes elements of late Gothic and early Renaissance.
Although it has quite large interiors, you can go here only in the afternoon, because it has no gardens. Today, the chateau is owned by the city of Blois and is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased through GetYourGuide or at the door. However, be aware that queues may form in the summer season.
Villandry Castle is famous for its magnificent gardens, which are considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. They are quite large, but in summer you will appreciate that there is a shaded walk along the gardens so you can see the whole thing without partying.
In addition to ornamental gardens and fountains, there is also a vegetable garden. In autumn they also grow pumpkins, which looks really amazing in the castle gardens (I saw it in the photos and regretted that we arrived at the end of May).
The interior is beautiful, but not as extensive as Blois, but you can climb up to the top of the tower where you have a view of the gardens.
Cheverny Castle is one of the best preserved castles in the Loire Valley , and one of the few castles that feels so cosy you wouldn’t even mind living there. Every room is furnished to the last detail, so there’s none of the typical chateau chill we usually feel from Czech castles.
The decoration and furniture is from 17. century. Interestingly, this chateau is still owned by the same family that built it, the Hurault family, and is open to the public all year round. In the castle gardens you will also find 100 hunting dogs and if you are here around 11. hours, you can see how they’re fed. Again, buy your tickets in advance at GetYourGuide.
7) Château du Clos Lucé
The Château du Clos Lucé is worth a visit mainly because Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life here and the entire château is dedicated to this famous painter.
The castle will be enjoyed not only by adults but also by children, as a large part is dedicated to the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci. In the garden you can try out the water pump or the tank invented by this Renaissance thinker and scientist (although he is mainly known as a painter, he did not consider himself only a painter).
This castle is privately owned and open to the public all year round. It’s extremely popular, so again, we recommend buying tickets in advance through GetYourGuide.
Map of Loire castles on your phone
In exchange for an email, we will be happy to send you an interactive map of all the castles and accommodation mentioned in this article.
Itinerary for 5-6 days: Chateaux on the Loire
If you’re wondering how to put together a program, you don’t have to. We’ve been through all the locks, made enough mistakes in the planning that you don’t have to make them anymore. As we said above, we recommend staying in Blois, from where you’ll be making daily excursions. Let’s now take a look at the ideal itinerary.
Day 1. Arrival in Paris and transfer to Blois
Day 2. Chaumont and Blois
The first place to go is Chaumont Castle, so you can explore the gardens in peace. You can then have lunch in the chateau or move on to Blois. There are even several places to eat right inside the castle.
The Chateau Bois is ideal for an afternoon, as you can hide from the heat in the cool interiors. Although the castle is quite large, it has no gardens.
Day 3. Chenonceau and Clos Lucé
In the morning, head to Chenonceau, one of the most beautiful and most visited castles on the Loire. You can then choose to visit the Chateau of Amboise or Clos Lucé, home to Leonardo da Vinci.
Day 4. Chambord and Cheverny
Be sure to head to Chambord first, which is the more popular and more extensive of the two. But if you’d like to see dog feeding in Cheverny you’re gonna have to switch. Feeding is usually at 11:30.
Day 5. Villandry and Tours
If you’re flying out the next day, head first to the beautiful half-timbered houses in the town of Tours, where you can stay for lunch. After lunch, visit the stunning Chateau Villandry, which has some of the most beautiful gardens of any chateau on the Loire.
If you fly up 6th day morning like us, we recommend to check in on the 5th. the evening of the day at the airport. One of the cheapest accommodations is at the Premiere Classe Roissy CDG, but it’s really just an overnight stay, don’t expect a miracle.
Day 6. – Departure
If you return a car rented through RentalCars, it is extremely easy to return the car, we rented a car from Sixt through them and the whole process took about five minutes. You only need to be at the airport about 2 hours before departure (even with a reserve).
Locks on the Loire by bike
If you’re a keen cyclist, consider heading to France on your bikes. The Loire Valley is one of the most popular destinations for cycling in France. There are well-maintained and very well-marked cycle paths here, and the terrain is not too difficult.
The “Loire à Vélo” cycle path is more than 900 km long and stretches from Nevers to the Atlantic Ocean. If you follow this cycle path, it will take you past most of the most famous chateaux such as Chambord, Chenonceau and Blois.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (FAQ)
Which castles to go to with the kids?
The chateaux of Cheverny, Clos Lucé and Chambord are suitable for children. The castle in Blois, on the other hand, is unsuitable.
How long to go to the Loire Chateaux?
You can do the most important things in 4-6 days.
Which are the most beautiful castles on the Loire?
This is very subjective, but the most popular are Chenonceau, Chambord and Chaumont.
How much does it cost to enter the Loire Chateaux?
It ranges between 12 and 20 euros per person.
Where to buy tickets in advance for the Chateaux du Loire?
GetYourGuide is reliable, or you can try local lock sites.
How far are the chateaux on the Loire from Paris.
The Loire Valley is approximately 200 km southwest of Paris, which is roughly equivalent to a 2-3 hour drive, but it really depends on where you’re going. If you are travelling by train, the journey from Paris to Tours, one of the main cities in the Loire Valley, takes about an hour and a half.