Best castles to see in Loire Valley

Last Updated on 05/07/2024

It is not simple to choose best castles to see in Loire Valley. This is not to say that all castles are interchangeable, but you can and should combine what you want to visit and what to see from the outside. In this topic, we will try to classify Loire castles into different categories, highlighting the best in each.
Here you find also a brief history of the region in relation to castles.

Loire Castles. Blois region attractions map
Loire Valley Castles. Blois castle
Loire valley Chambord castle
Around Chenonceau: attractions map from Amboise to Loches
Amboise Castle, Clos Lucé and what else to see
Loire valley Chenonceau castle
Attractions of Tours city
Loches and Chedigny village
Around Chinon: Loire Valley map from Tours to Angers
Loire cycle route. Tours – Villandry
By car, bike and public transport in the Loire Valley

Please note that only castles are considered here; other attractions are indicated in the topics with maps and all links are given. The question of choice is important, since the cost of attractions is artificially inflated and not everything corresponds to its value.

The history of the Loire Valley briefly and in connection with castles

Why does this region have such a high density of attractions in general?

It is located in the very center of France and even before the formation of the state, important events took place here. Among the most important:
– Martin of Tours, the main saint of France, lived and died here
– a battle took place between Tours and Poitiers that stopped the arabian expansion

By the 14th century, French kings were increasingly associated with the region. They gave land to their relatives.
During the most difficult period of the Hundred Years’ War, the region was on the front line and the kings live on the Loire.
Finally, Tours became the capital, rule passed to the Orléans branch of the Valois (those relatives to whom the lands were previously transferred), and the king was born and lived in Blois.
The lands of France were united, crafts were developing, there was a lot of money, plus the influence of the Renaissance (Italian wives, Italian wars) – so the kings actively built, and their rich subordinates built.

Historical tables: who ruled, what they did in the region, what happened to the main castles. If you don’t see them, please enable ads and cookies.

Best castles to see in Loire Valley

From the most interesting to the least interesting in each category. That is, if time is limited, look at the beginning of the list and those castles that are marked with a rating of 1.
The category “and others” does not mean “bad” and can attract original features (in italics) and territorial proximity to the your appartments.

Three points for each castle:
– architecture,
– interior,
– additional attraction.
There is also a link to a map of attractions. The number in brackets is the rating for outstanding quality: 1 – especially good, 2 – good.

An explanation of interior styles so you know what you’ll roughly see:

medieval – mostly bare stone walls, large fireplaces, wooden furniture, chairs instead of armchairs, armor
Renaissance – four-poster beds, wooden panels, red (or other dark) fabric wallpaper, furniture not yet luxurious, but strong and powerful and not much of it, sometimes wall paintings, large tapestries, occasionally paintings
– “family-historical” (my name) – luxurious interiors combining furniture from different eras, the result of the long life of one family on the estate. Such interiors rarely represent only one particular century; rather, different rooms are decorated in different centuries. Armchairs upholstered in patterned fabric, bent legs, numerous family portraits on the walls
neo-Gothic (historicism). In the second half of the 19th century they loved antique restorations. Reminiscent of a mixture of the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, only brighter, richer and more comfortable: powerful wooden cassette ceilings with carvings, dark carved furniture, armor on the walls
Belle Epoque and the first half of the 20th century (new inventions that improve living comfort, luxury, bohemianism, hats with large feathers)

It must be understood that most of the residences and palaces fell into disrepair or were destroyed. Therefore, interiors are often assembled piece by piece and there are few of them.

My personal subjective rating of must see:
1. Blois (architecture and interior), Loches (medieval), Villandry (gardens), Chambord (architecture)
2. Chenonceau (architecture and interior), Chaumont (architecture, gardens), Cheverny (interior), Cande (interiors, park)
3. Everything else can be interchanged depending on preferences and route.

Best castles from the point of view of architecture and interior

Chenonceau (map 2, more about)
– royal palace-bridge (1)
– Renaissance plus museum collection, famous artists (1)
– boating

Blois (map 1, more about)
– royal palace, interesting Renaissance stairs and facades (1)
– Renaissance plus museum exhibition (1)
– evening visits, theater performances in the middle of the day, Escape games

Chambord (map 1, more about)
– royal palace, the most original architecture (1)
– there are, one might say, no interiors (initially there were none), but there is a small number of reconstructed “Renaissance” interiors from different museum collections
climb to the roof (1), several carriages, horse show, evening visit

Cheverny (map 1)
– 17th century palace
– “family-historical” of the 17th-19th centuries (1). Due to the fact that the palace was owned by one family, the interiors are well preserved
– feeding dogs

Azay-le-Rideau (map 3)
– a small and elegant castle reflected in the water, a beautiful main staircase, facade (2)
– four centuries, different rooms are dedicated to different periods (2)

Domaine de Cande (map 2)
– 16th century palace, reconstructed in the 20th century
inventions of the early 20th century, interiors of the period between the world wars, Belle Epoque (2)
– extensive park, old trees, ponds, buildings (free) (2)

d’Usse (map 3)
– a romantic castle-palace with turrets (1)
– “family historical”, a mixture of centuries, many mannequins
winemaking (cellars), carriages in stables

Amboise (map 2, more about)
– royal castle with strong walls, chapel (1)
– Renaissance. Not many interiors

The most medieval looking Loire castles

Loches – powerful donjon, fortress walls with towers (1). A visit to the fortress and palace alone will take at least 2 hours. (map 2, more about)
Angers – 17 towers, tapestry (map 3)
Chinon – large fortress (not much interesting inside)
Montbazon – ruins with donjon (map 2)

Most romantic looking Loire castles

Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers – ruins surrounded by water (map 3)

Best gardens in Loire castles

Villandry (map 3, more about)
– small palace 16th century
– “family historical” interiors
Renaissance gardens (1)

Chaumont (map 1)
– castle with powerful towers (1)
– Renaissance + different styles
– a number of original gardens and a garden festival (1)

Rivau (map 3)
– castle 15-17th centuries (many times rebuilt, restored to the Middle Ages)
– different styles plus contemporary art
– original gardens (2)
garden Escape game

Gaillard (map 2)
– small palace from the 16th century
– small stained glass windows in the interior are interesting
– the first greenhouse in France and the first acclimatized citrus fruits, park

Best Loire castles for children

By “children” I mean children from about 7 years old; for younger children this is not really interesting, although you often need to pay from 4 years old. Please also note that teenagers pay like adults.

Clos-Luce (map 2, more about)
– castle 15th century
– a-la Renaissance
many models created according to the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci,
a beautiful park

Loches (map 2, more about)
– castle 11th century, residence 14-15th century (1)
– museum exhibits

Langeais (map 3)
– castle 15th century
– Renaissance and Middle Ages (few interiors)
tree houses in the park, additional entertainment during the holidays (different for different holidays, see on the website) (2)

Gizeux (map 3)
– small palace, Middle Ages and Renaissance
– mostly 17th century, wall paintings
– costumed excursion, treasure hunt
candlelight visit (summer), festival in August

Chinon (map 3)
– royal fortress, ruined (2)
– museum exhibition
– treasure hunt, Escape game throughout the castle

For girls it is also d’Usse, as there are many mannequins in dresses and the story of Sleeping Beauty.

Evening visits and shows

In addition to the regular entertainment mentioned above, castles organize themed festivals, medieval and Christmas celebrations, soirees or concerts. Look at the sites in the Agenda / Evenements section.

All this is mainly in July and August.

Great light, music and theater show in the summer months, close to Tours: La Scénoféerie
Blois – short performances during the day, light show in the evening
Chambord – horse show, light show
Chenonceau – evening walks in the park (lights and music)
Gizeux – candlelight visit
Amboise – evening summer performances
Clos Luce – theatrical performances
Montbazon – daily short performances
Saumur – horse show in Cadre Noir

And others

de Breze (map 3)
– 16th century palace
– historicism (neo-Gothic) (2)
– extensive underground part

de Brissac (map 3)
– 17th century palace
– “family-historical”
Belle Epoque theater

Montreuil-Bellay (map 3)
– castle 11-15 centuries (2)
– “family historical”

Beauregard (map 1)
– 16th century palace
– Renaissance, gallery of famous people
– park, cherry blossom alley

Château de Champchevrier (map 3)
– palace of the 16th-18th century
– “family-historical” interiors of the 16th-18th centuries, rare exhibition – laundry room (2)
– theatrical excursions in summer; dog feeding (on Thursday)

Fougeres sur Bievre (map 1)
– Gothic castle (2)
– museum exhibits

Chateau de Talcy (map 1)
– 16th century castle
– preserved 18th century interiors

Montpoupon (map 2)
– castle 15th century
– “family historical”
– museum – hunting, stables

Loire Castles. Blois region attractions map
Loire Valley Castles. Blois castle
Loire valley Chambord castle
Around Chenonceau: attractions map from Amboise to Loches
Amboise Castle, Clos Lucé and what else to see
Loire valley Chenonceau castle
Attractions of Tours city
Loches and Chedigny village
Around Chinon: Loire Valley map from Tours to Angers
Loire cycle route. Tours – Villandry
By car, bike and public transport in the Loire Valley

Do you enjoy the site without cookies? This means that I work for you at my own expense.
Perhaps you would like to support my work here.
Or change your cookie settings here.
I don’t use personalized ads

Leave a comment

Email is not compulsory