Itinerary : Discovering the Châteaux de la Loire

6 nights
Stages: 716 km
All year

The Loire Valley castels has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. High place of art and history, the splendor of the valley is based essentially on its castles, real jewels that rise on the banks of the river. These castles were initially austere dungeons, before becoming an unprecedented field of experience for Renaissance artists called by kings and patrons to display their power. Take this royal itinerary in the heart of this French artistic cradle.

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Step 1

Step 1 : From the Château de Chambord to the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire

The first day opens with a visit to the Château de Chambord, the largest castle in the Loire with its 440 rooms, 85 stairs and 365 fireplaces. Its jewel is the double revolution staircase, designed so that two people going up or down can still see each other but can only meet at the top or bottom.  At the end of the tour, take the opportunity to visit the terraces, which offer the best view of the magnificent 5,500-hectare estate. Then go to the Château de Blois to contemplate the Renaissance facade, which by the diversity of architectural styles, tells the destiny of the kings and queens who stayed there. The terraced gardens offer stunning views of the city. If you have the time, end the day with a visit to the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire, which was owned by Catherine de Medici in particular and hosts works by contemporary artists and photographers.

1st night at the Château des Grotteaux.

Step 2

Step 2 : From the Château d'Amboise to the Royal City

The second day begins with the discovery of the Château d'Amboise, an invitation place for great European artists by the kings of France, like Leonardo da Vinci who rests in the chapel of the castle.  Then head to the Château de Chenonceau, one of the masterpieces of the French Renaissance. This castle was offered by Henry II to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. On the death of Henri II, Catherine de Médicis forced Diane de Poitiers to give him Chenonceau in exchange for Chaumont-sur-Loire.  Admire the splendid gallery overlooking the Cher, the royal rooms but also the green cabinet, formerly office of Catherine de Medici. If you have time, end the day with the royal city of Loches.  Discover one of the most beautiful fortified cities in France with its keep 36 meters high.
2nd night at the Château des Grotteaux.

Step 3

Step 3 : From the Château Luynes to Azay le Rideau.

The third day begins with a visit to the Château de Luynes, just 15 km from Tours, which offers breathtaking views of the Loire Valley. Finish the visit by walking through the gardens, in the ditches of the castle. Then head to the Château de Villandry whose main attraction lies in its sumptuous gardens, faithfully recreated in the style of the sixteenth century. Flowers, vegetables and aromatic plants are ordered according to clever geometric drawings. The castle was restored and furnished in Renaissance style by a Spanish doctor, Joachim Carvallo, at the beginning of the 20th century.  Then head to Azay le Rideau, one of the prettiest castles in the Loire that Balzac compared to a «multifaceted diamond set on the Indre», with its delicate turrets and purely decorative fortifications.

3rd night at Gizeux Castle.

Step 4

Step 4 : From the Abbaye de Fontevraud to the Château d'Ussé.

For this fourth day, go to the Abbey of Fontevraud, beautifully restored, which gives an incomparable image of the monastic life of the thirteenth century. Visitors can walk freely around the buildings, in the medieval gardens, the orangery and the old stables. Don’t forget to visit the most fascinating Romanesque kitchens with their six fireplaces. Then head to the Château des Réaux, listed as a historical monument since 1930, where you will appreciate the calm of the place, in the heart of the garden. A contemporary art gallery is available throughout the year. End the day with the discovery of the Château d'Ussé, the castle of the Sleeping Beauty, remarkable for its period furniture and its collection of costumes exhibited inside.

4th night: Castle of Gizeux.

Step 5

Step 5 : From the Château de Montgeoffroy to the Château de Bazouges.

Start the day by visiting the Château de Montgeoffroy, former home of the Marshal of Contades, lord of the Ancien Régime. Furniture and paintings are fully preserved. To discover: the kitchen of the castle and its 200 copper pieces! Then direction the domain of Lude, an old fortress transformed in the Renaissance into an elegant residence. The surrounding gardens are worth a visit. End the day with the discovery of the Château de Bazouges, which has become a charming seigneurial residence with its 17th century furniture and Louis XVI style lounges. Outside you will enjoy the Italian gardens.

5th night at the Château de Chambiers.

Step 6

Step 6 : From Angers to the Château de Plessis Bourré.

The last day opens with the discovery of Angers, dominated by the impressive walls and seventeen towers of its formidable 13th century castle. The castle serves as a showcase for a precious treasure: the famous tapestry of the Apocalypse. High of 6 m and 140 m long, the eighty-four paintings retrace the text of the Apocalypse according to Saint John.  Then go to the Château de Serrant which constitutes one of the most interesting furnished ensembles in France with a gigantic library which contains treasures among which, the first editions of the Fables of La Fontaine or the Encyclopedia of Diderot.  End the day with a visit to the Château du Plessis Bourré. This remarkable castle was the setting for many films such as D'Ane, Le Bossu or La Princesse de Montpensier.

6th night at the Château des Briottières.

Published on 22/11/2023

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