The Loire Valley is like a gigantic Disneyland of Chateaux, except all the Chateaux are real!It is known as the heart of France, Coeur de France.
Imagine walking in the footsteps of Leonardo Da Vinci at Clos-Luce in Amboise, or walk through the same hallways of Chateau Chenonceau where the French resistance escaped to safety from the Nazis, or walk the personal gardens of Catherine de Medici at Chamount-sur-loire, or marvel at the architectural genius of Chateau Chambord !
I have visited this region 3 times, and each time I have discovered that I must return again! So, my story telling of the Loir Valley Chateaux will never be finished, until I have seen all of these exquisite masterpieces filled with rich history and architectural wonder.
So, where do you start? I started with Blois during my first visit, then the next year in Tours, and the last visit in Amboise. I hope to go to Bourge during Summer of 2017, as I have heard the grand Cathedral is far superior than the Paris Notre-Dame!
Rich in history, all the way back to the 6th century, Blois was the “vacation” home of the royals in the 16th century, Joan of Arc’s rescue of Orléans, birth place of Louis the 12th, and the home of the famous magician Robert Houdin! In fact, the beautiful renaissance Chateau de Blois and La Maison de la Magie Robert-Houdin are considered two of the main attractions in this lovely small town!!
How to get there
To get to Blois, you can drive from Paris on A10 and arrive there within 2 hours or so! Flat land to drive and lovely rivers to cross.
Where to stay
When in the Chateaux land, why NOT stay at a Chateaux! I did and LOVED it. Many of the smaller Chateau are turned into B&B and you can actually stay there.
- Hotel des Tertres in Onzin has breathtaking view of the Loire valley, extremely comfortable and lovely rooms, excellent service, and for as little at 80 Euros you can watch hot air balloons from the vast garden while sipping some delicious Chinon! In the morning, breakfast awaits you in the grand hall! OH I am going back this summer!
- You can also look at friendly Airbnb , with plenty of options.
- The opportunity to stop at the Blois office of tourism, to determine if you want to buy a package deal for all of your Chateaux visits. It is a great way to see multiple Chateaux wit discounted rate.
- Chateau Chambord, for anyone who is interested in Architecture the beauty of this Chateaux is the exterior and at the top. Famous for its French Renaissance architecture world wide, there are mor activities on the exterior of the Chateaux than inside. I suggest you consider spending 1/2 a day there, if not a full day.
- Chateaux Blois, Cheverny, and Chaumont Sur-la Loire each offer a unique experience and are closes to the town of Blois.. I found Chaumount Sur-la loire to have a welcoming sense like no other Chateau. The garden is a must and some time pondering the view of the beautiful Loire river , in my opinion, is required!
- Hot air balloon ride over the Loire Valley.
I think you can see two Chateaux in a day, given you may have to take the bus, or drive there. If you are in a hurry and want to pack more than two in your day see Tours’ Don’t miss on the next page.
ONLY 40 minutes or so from Blois, you can get to Tours directly from Paris via SNCF, or on A10 toward Blois and then Tours.
I arrived via SNCF at old and historic train station, Gare SNCF. While waiting for o my Airbnb host to finish work, just inside the Gare, Café Leff serves pretty good beer!
Across from the Gare, is a very friendly Office du Tourisme, where I learned so much about Chateaux hopping!
More coming soon….
15 minutes from Tours, 10 minutes from Blois, Amboise is a small village that allows you to walk in the footsteps of Leonard da Vinci! Amboise has two major Chateaux.
Amboise and Le Chateau du Clos Luce. Both equally impressive for various reasons. The first one, a military strategic chateau that gave the kings an unobstructed view of the River Loire and the country side. So, no matter which way the enemy was going to attack, the warrior will see them!
Le Chateau du Clos is only 8 minutes walk, down the narrow alley way. Here you will be mesmerized knowing that da Vinci created some of his most amazing inventions.
You can buy a ticket for both chateaux and save a few euros. Stay over night and see how beautiful and quite this little village is returned to its local residence.