Many times, I have visited the Loire valley on holidays with my parents, for the first time in 2008. On these holidays, we obviously had to visit several of the famous castles that you can find in this area. Exploring these castles really fostered my love for history and architecture. In this blogpost, I will share with you some of my favourite castles situated in this valley (in no particular order).
1. Château d’Azay-le-Rideau
The prime example of a fine and elegant castle is the castle of Azay-le-Rideau. The graceful turrets, the beautiful reflection of the castle on the water; this castle is definitely the right place when you want to take gorgeous pictures. Furthermore, the inside of the castle is just as lovely! The castle was built between 1518 and 1527. Experts consider it one of the foremost examples of early French renaissance architecture. More good news: if you’re under 26 and an EU citizen, your entrance to the castle is free!
2. Château d’Ussé
The second castle on my list is a fairytale inspiring castle. The story goes that this castle formed the inspiration for the fairytale The Sleeping Beauty. In the castle, you can find large dolls portraying some scenes from The Sleeping Beauty. The castle started as a medieval stronghold, but changes were made a couple of times. The result is this beautiful Renaissance castle dating mostly from the 16th-18th centuries. The gardens of the castle are lovely, too.
3. Château de Chambord
Probably the biggest castle on this list is the Château de Chambord (and probably the biggest of the Loire Valley), again in the style of French Renaissance. I visited this castle in 2008 and still remember its enormous size. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit the interior of the castle, so I definitely want to return to this castle! An interesting fact: some people say that the famous Leonardo da Vinci has designed the spiral staircase of the castle, but this might just be a rumour. The castle was never finished. It served as a hunting lodge for king Francis I.
4. Château de Sully-sur-Loire
Next, another castle, a different holiday. I visited Château de Sully-sur-Loire much more recently. This castle was the seat of the dukes of Sully. From 1218 onwards, parts of the castle were built and embellished. I really like the moat of this castle. Furthermore, the large round towers of the castle allow me to pretend I’m in a Fantasy world.
5. Château de Chenonceau
Last but not least, another castle I visited the first time we were in the Loire valley (in 2008): Château de Chenonceau. A lot of tourists visit the castle and entrance prices are not low compared to other castles of the Loire valley, but a visit to this castle is a must when exploring this part of France. The castle you can admire nowadays was built in 1514-1522 on the foundations of an old mill. However, they built the part that spans the river at a later time. The result is a beautiful and elegant castle. Furthermore, Chenonceau has some really fine gardens as well.
Those were my top 5 favourite castles of the Loire Valley. Do you have some other castle recommendations? It can be anywhere in the world!