Enjoy French castles as we wander through the Loire Valley and experience 5 centuries of Royal architecture ! Azay-le-Rideau
is my favorite thus far in our travels. I have a current list below
of all Chateaux for which I have visited and photographed.
The Loire Valley follows the western stretch of the Loire River, the longest in France, between Orléans and Nantes. This region is the most heavily forested in France. Our explorations of châteaux will be focused in this region.
Chateaux (French castles) built by kings as military fortresses during the pre - 15th centuries are often positioned on rocky promontories or safeguarded by drawbridges.
(photo courtesy of
Chateaux built during the 15th and 16th centuries have architectural features that showcase wealth and ancestry. These châteaux were built as pleasure palaces.
Châteaux built in the Baroque period, 16th-18th centuries feature paintings, sculptures and classical architecture integrated in the structure.
The vast majority of the major châteaux are now unfurnished since it was not until the 17th century that châteaux began to have permanent furnishings. Restorations during the 19th and 20th centuries have attempted to reconstruct original furnishings.
It is very easy to get “château overload” so pace yourself. If you go by car it is so easy to try to "do too much". Visiting only one or possibly two châteaux (their interiors and grounds) per day will allow you to enjoy and absorb all that you see!
Traveling by train will help you pace yourself the first time out.
Beginning in Paris from the CDG airport, follow the blue signs for the train station and take the TGV train to Tours, France or travel from Paris by taking the TGV train from the Montparnasse metro stop.
will take you from
and Chinon, back to
and on north-east to
at which point you will return to Paris.
also begins in
and includes the same jaunt to
Azay le Rideau
and Chinon but then goes east with stops in Chenonceau, St-Aignan and Bourges. From
you will return to Vierzon and go north to
ending in Paris.
* * *
Both of these French castle train routes take you to Orléans before returning to Paris. Although there is no chateau here, there are several sites that make this a town not to be missed.
You will want to see the cathedral of Saint Croix which has one of the oldest foundations in France, dating from the 4th century. These foundations can be seen in the crypt of St. Aignan. Maison de Jean d’Arc depicts the history of Joan of Arc, presenting scenes and artifacts from her life. Place du Martroi has a statue of Joan of Arc giving thanks to God.
Chateaux of the Loire
Return from French Castles LOIRE VALLEY to HOMEPAGE