The Loire Valley in its own right is a beautiful sight to behold. Nearly 300 kilometres in expanse in central France along the Loire River, the 800 or so square kilometres known locally as the Vallée de la Loire is famous for its wine-producing vineyards, among other agricultural products. Also bestowing the nickname the “Garden of France” are the farms that produce artichokes, asparagus, and orchards which produce cherries and apples, among other delicious fruity varietals.
Perhaps most notable about the region are the area’s amazing castles that span a huge variety of shapes and sizes. The spectacle of gothic architecture that date some 600 years back is enough that the UN added the region to its list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. But which among the towering castles are deserving of extra attention? It is not easy to narrow down the best of Chateaux of the Loire Valley, but here is an honest attempt at a few to take a closer look at.
The sleepy oat-meal town right on the River Loire pay tribute to the majestic beauty that is Amboise chateau. You have to see it to believe the former home of Kings Charles and Francois Louis, full of towers adorned with ramps that made horse-drawn carriage an adequate substitution when elevators did not yet exist.
The chateau itself is, like all those on this list, lovely in its own rite. But the star of the show are the geometrically laid-out gardens, meticulously terraced in set squares. From a bird’s eye point of view, the gardens are perfect, looking like something out of a puzzle. This Renaissance estate is host to more than 350,000 visitors every year who walk around the gardens, and for good reason. You have never seen anything quite like these gardens.
One of the most famous for its simply romantic setting, Chenonceau castle has the iconic arches over the River Cher. Also home to some incredible gardens where Catherine-de-Medicis threw some raucous parties back in the day, there is also world-class art for connoisseurs to take in.
Chateau of Ussé is famous for providing the inspiration for none other than Charles Perrault’s castle in Sleeping Beauty. This was rebuilt in the 1400s to add on some Renaissance features to complement its medieval aesthetic, such as the dormant windows and gothic towers. The unforgettable chimneys are the proverbial cherry on top.