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The 12 best Castles of the Loire (not to be missed)

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There are unique trips of those that you never forget, usually associated with exotic destinations, distant or designated dates (a honeymoon?). This route by car through the best Castles of the Loire belongs to the latter, one that we will not forget because a little traveler named Olivia was already inside Paula on her first international trip (although she still did not know) in addition to being a journey that we had long wanted and that we have finally completed this year. However, in the Loire Valley There are so many castles that you would have to ask for three months of vacation to visit them all at a brisk pace. Do you think we exaggerate? Well, according to the association "Châteaux de la Loire, Vallè de Rois" there are 73 that can be visited although around the Loire there are more than 200 visits between castles, abbeys and more cultural heritage. However, come by bicycle, motorhome or do the route by car (like us), there are some considered the best castles of the Loire you must not miss but we wanted to visit them before making this list so that it was not generic


We evidently have not crossed the 73 but we have visited many of them (more than 20), some inside and others only outside in the route between Nantes and Orleans (and also a day south of it) And here you have our conclusions. We hope it serves you!

The 12 best Castles of the Loire essential on your trip

He Loire Valley is known worldwide as the "garden of France". Monuments, abbeys, fortresses, the best architectural examples of the Renaissance and the age of the Enlightenment but also beautiful cities and historic towns with charm, wineries and vineyards, bicycle routes and, of course, the wonderful Castles of the Loire, made this Valley as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2000


It can be considered that the Loire Valley runs through the regions of Pays de la Loire and Center-Loire Valley although it is easier to see the route from Nantes to the South of Orleans, touring the main towns of Angers, Saumur, Tours, Amboise or Blois

SPANISH TOURS FOR THE MOST ORGANIZED:

Although we always give you all the information to organize the trip on your own, if you have little time or prefer to forget about preparations, you have the following option COMPLETELY IN SPANISH and with VERY GOOD OPINIONS from other travelers. 2-day excursion to the Loire Castles from Paris. This is the most complete excursion with pick-up / drop-off in Paris including entrance to the castles of Amboise, Clos-Lucé, Villandry, Chenonceau, Cheverny and Chambord, accommodation and night in the beautiful town of Tours, 1 meal and 1 breakfast and cancellation free before the previous week

2-day Loire Castles tour from Paris

The following list is not ordered from more to less beautiful (which would be something very subjective) but with a sense of route coming from Paris from Orleans to Nantes, from the closest to the furthest, except for the 12 that remains in Lower Orleans. Yes that includes the best Loire Castles most recognized must not miss in your route of the more than 200 you can find (and always under our opinion)

1 Chambord Castle, the largest of the Loire Castles

One of the best known castles is that ofChambord ... simply spectacular! Renaissance style is also the largest of the Loire Castles. The interior impresses but seeing it from the outside is what leaves you speechless.


They say that Da Vinci worked here for the last three years of his life although where he is buried is in the chapel of the castle of Amboise (which is another recommended below). However, you will see his legacy in the spiral staircase that may give a little bit of vertigo but that alone would be worth visiting.



The downside of this castle (you know we have everything under our real experience) is that it is excessively saturated with tourists (which did NOT happen to us in other cases) although we would also recommend incorporating it into your route for its beauty. In addition, it is so large that you do not feel overwhelmed at any time and you can always sit and sit, like us, to enjoy an ice cream with Chambord Castle as a backdrop.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE CHAMBORD CASTLE:

  • Location: 22 minutes from Blois and one hour from Tours (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of admission: 13 euros Children under 18 and those between 18 and 25 years of age residing in the EU do not pay.
  • It is not visited without buying the ticket
  • Schedules: from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in winter and until 6:00 p.m. in summer.
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

2 Cheverny Castle, Tintin Castle

They say about him that is the most sumptuous and elegant of the Loire. Cheverny, also in the Renaissance style, is another of the Loire's best known castles as well as having beautiful gardens.


It is also famous becauseHergé was inspired by him to create Moulinsart Castle, the house of Captain Haddock So, if you travel with children, this castle will surely be one of your favorites. In addition, the town of Cheverny has many restaurants, terraces and a winery that is well worth it right at the entrance of the castle.



More curious are its particular inhabitants. One hundred hunting dogs and their caretakers make a kind of "feeding ceremony" once a day in the kennels.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO CHEVERNY CASTLE:

  • Situation: 10 km from Blois (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of the entrance: 11 euros. 8 euros for large families, children from 7 to 14 years and students up to 25 years. Free for children under 7 years.
  • It is not visited without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: from October to March from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., from April to September from 9:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

3 Chaumont Castle, one of the best preserved castles

It may not be the most spectacular castle but Chaumont Castle is exceptionally well preserved and its gardens and interior are worth visiting, as well as receiving fewer tourists for what can be done quietly.


The surrounding park is home to 30 hectares of gardens and stables, although the towers are the most striking since they remind you of Sleeping Beauty's castle, right?



Well okay, it's not like the Castle of the Mad King in Bavaria but worth a visit. Inside we can admire some beautiful tapestries too.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE CHAUMONT CASTLE:

  • Location: It is 46 minutes from Tours (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of the entrance: 12 euros. From 12 to 18 years 7 euros and 4 euros for children between 6 and 11 years.
  • It is not visited without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: here you can see the schedules of the castle of Chaumont in detail
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

4 Amboise Castle, one of the oldest castles in the Loire

As we said above, here is the tomb of Leonardo Da Vinci although also notable for having beautiful views since it was originally a defensive fortress, in addition to being very well set and preserved.


It turns out that, although at first glance the Amboise Castle seems Renaissance, we are facing one of the oldest castles of the Loire since it comes from the Celtic era where it was a fortification in rock. Essential to understand it is your night show, one of the best we've seen around the world



Amboise is a very classic and beautiful town that is worthwhile to base and where you can also see the house where Da Vinci lived or another completely different castle such as Clos-Lucé Castle

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE CASTLE OF AMBOISE:

  • Location: Half an hour from Tours (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of the entrance: 11.50 euros. 9.90 euros for students and 7.7 euros between 7 and 18 years. Children under 7 enter free. (They will have to have a lot of coins to make the change because if not what mess hehehe)
  • If you can see from abroad without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: every day they open at 9 in the morning but close at different times so before going, you better check the schedules of their website
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

5 Chenonceau Castle, the Ladies Castle (and the most beautiful for us)

It is known as the castle of the Ladies by the ladies who built it or inhabited it for five centuries: Diana de Poitiers (which gives its name to the most important garden), Catalina de Médicis, Luisa de Lorena or Louise Dupin, who received in her Reception hall to personalities such as Voltaire, Montesquieu or Rousseau. The fact is that we are facing the one with themost impressive interiors of all the castles of the Loire as well as the most beautiful for us


Do we start to imagine? What influence did the Ladies have in the French Revolution? What did they say to each other? Was Voltoire secretly in love with Louise Dupin? Touring your rooms or gardens is a real privilege



In July and August they organize night visits through the gardens so it may be a good idea to leave it for when other castles have already closed (we did not do so in this case).

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE CHENONCEAU CASTLE:

  • Situation: Chenonceau is a 45-minute drive from the city of Blois and 40 from Tours (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of the entrance: 13 euros, night visit through the gardens 6 euros.
  • It is not visited without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: in July and August until 8:00 p.m., the rest of the year varies depending on the season. Here are all the schedules
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

6 Castillo de Montrésor, the big surprise of the route

For us, the Castle of Montrésor (next to Brissac's) was one of the great surprises of the trip, a castle has not changed in 150 years and has all its spaces fully furnished.


However, it is possibly its surroundings, especially from the other side of the river, which makes this site a unique place that was recorded in our retinas.



The garden is of Romanticism with many sculptures, fountains, exotic trees, flowers, ... which makes it very different from the rest of the castle gardens of the Loire Valley

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO MONTRÉSOR CASTLE:

  • Location: 1 hour from Tours (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of the entrance: 8 euros. Children from 6-10 years 3 euros, from 10 to 17 years 4 euros and children under 6 years free. Only garden 3 euros.
  • If you can see from abroad without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: from April 1 to November 11 every day from 10-19 hours. From November 12 to March 31 on weekends from 10-18 hours
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

7 Villandry Castle, the most beautiful gardens in the Loire

It is the youngest of the castles of the Loire was built during the Renaissance although if Villandry Castle stands out for something, it is for its gardens, the most beautiful among all that we saw It is well worth spending time leaving in this case its interiors in the background (if you have to choose, you know)


In general, it stands out for the harmony of its architecture and its gardens, which are of the most peculiar, of a horticultural tradition reconstructed from texts of the 14th century by Juan el Bretón, minister of finance of Francisco I and composed on three levels .



Walking through them is like getting into a maze you don't know when you will leave.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE VILLANDRY CASTLE:

  • Situation: 15 km from Tours (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of admission: 10.50 euros the Castle and the gardens and 6.50 euros only the latter. It is free for children under 8 years and 8 to 18 years and students at 7 euros and 5 gardens.
  • It is not visited without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: from February to November and at Christmas it closes but the gardens are open throughout the year. Here you can see all the schedules in detail
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

8 Castle of Azay le Rideau, the castle that floats on the water

We said in Chenonceau that it was the most beautiful castle (for us), but what about this one whose unique location in the middle of the water makes it seem like it floats on it?


Yes, yes ... it is on an island of the Indre River which gives it a Very idyllic appearance, like fairy tale but it does not stop there as the interior impresses even more, beautifully furnished with Renaissance equipment.



Without doubt, one of the best Castles of the Loire that should not be missing in this list of essentials.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE CASTLE OF AZAY LE RIDEAU:

  • Situation: 30 minutes from Tours (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of the entrance: 10 euros the normal and 8 euros the reduced. In addition, it is free for children under 18 and 18 to 25 years of age residing in the EU. It is also free for all who go on the first Sunday of November to February.
  • It is not visited without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: Opens between 9 and 10 hours, closing at 17:00 in winter and the 23 hours of July and August! To see the schedules in detail enter here
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

9 Castillo d'Usse, the fairytale castle

We haven't used the definition of "fairytale castle" yet, right? It's time to get into an authentic fairytale castle ... in view of our Perejildo drone (always respecting the exclusion zones, of course, we couldn't fly in all of them)


It is said that the Castle d'Usse inspired Charles Perrault, author of Sleeping Beauty. In fact, the story is largely recreated in the Castle, which is why it is one of the kids' favorite castles (next to Tintin's).



The gardens are very beautiful and in the surroundings, near the river, you can find very bucolic and romantic places.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO CASTLE D'USSE:

  • Location: 40 minutes from Tours (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of the entrance: 14 euros, 4 euros for children between 8 and 16 years and free for children under 7 years.
  • If you can see from abroad without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: from 10 to 18 hours between October 12 and March 31. From 10 to 19 hours between April 1 and September 30
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

10 Saumur Castle, the castle with the best views

If we had to choose a different castle in which its enclave also stands out, this is Saumur Castle. It's about It's a medieval fortress on a hill with the city and the river at its feet, which makes it the one with the best views of all.


It is a small and charming castle that can be visited in a short time or simply admire it from the outside and take advantage to explore the town.



In addition to Tour, Amboise and Blois, the main bases to visit the Loire Castles, Saumur could be the most westerly option of all of them that will allow you to explore the most remote area.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE SAUMUR CASTLE:

  • Location: 57 minutes from Tours (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of admission: 7 euros, 5 euros for children between 7 and 16 years old and free for children under 7.
  • If you can see from abroad without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: from June 15 to September 15 from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The rest of the year closed on Mondays (except holidays) and the rest from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 5:30 pm
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

11 Brissac Castle, the tallest castle in France

Also of medieval origin, the Brissac Castle is the tallest in France with seven floors plus 204 rooms. It remains in private hands as it is the residence of the thirteenth Duke of Brissac, so you have to visit it with a guide.


For us it was another great surprise of the trip, with a visit that lasts about an hour and a quarter and covers about ten rooms although you can also stay walking through the English-style gardens and take a coffee at your entrance quietly



A whim? From 390 euros a night you can also sleep there like a king, never better.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE BRISSAC CASTLE:

  • Location: an hour and a half from Tours and half an hour from Angers and Saumur (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of admission: 10 euros. 8.50 euros for students and 4.5 euros for children between 8 and 16 years (both included). Children under 7 years free.
  • If you can see from abroad without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: every day except Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (last access) and from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (last access)
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

12 Castle of Sully-sur-Loire, the moat castle full of water

In the confluence of the Loire and Sange rivers, in a very special enclave and surrounded by a moat full of water, we find one of the prettiest outdoor of all the castles of the Loire Valley. In fact, if you have to decide one where not to enter this is the option, since you can see the castle from outside without paying, which does not happen with many others.


Sully-sur-Loire, the town where you are, also has a pleasant walk so it is not a bad idea to spend the night there especially if you travel by car from Spain and want to rest.



If not, in our opinion, Orleans is a perfect base to know all this area of ​​the south of the Loire Valley less known in addition to the city itself.

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO THE CASTLE OF SULLY-SUR-LOIRE:

  • Location: 170 km from Tours or 50 km from Orleans (a little away from the route of the Loire castles, but interesting to visit as well) (Link Google Maps)
  • Price of admission: 8 euros 5 euros between 6 and 17 years and free for children under 6 years. If you prefer a guided tour you can hire it for 2 euros more.
  • If you can see from abroad without paying the entrance
  • Schedules: It opens normally at 10 am but closing times change, so here we leave you
  • Visit: You can read in a few days our complete experience incorporated into the travel diary

Other castles, abbeys and fortresses of the Loire Valley

As we have had to limit the list to 12 (since otherwise this article would be endless) we have left out some Loire Castles that, if you have more days (like us) we would incorporate into the route. These are the Fleury Abbey, Blois, Loches, Clos-Lucé, Valençay, Tours, Langeais, Fontevraud Abbey, Candes-Saint-Martin, Montsoreau, Chinon or Angers.




We will talk about all of them in the stories and travel diary, of course. From them IF they are visible from outside without paying admission (so you choose which one to see and which not) that of Blois, Loches, Valençay, Tours, Langeais, Chinon or Angers

Practical advice to choose "your castles" in the Loire Valley

How to choose which Castles of the Loire to visit? Combine!

Unless you are a lover of this type of visits, we will give you An essential tip ... COMBINE! Do not pretend to see every day of your route 3 or 4 castles with the desire to enjoy them all because the third day you will no longer know what you are seeing (you will not even value it). Combine castles with charming villages, with visits to wineries, with special restaurants, with bike routes, with boat rides, with alternative experiences ... (we will talk about all this in other articles and in newspapers). And how to choose which ones to choose? We did it based on:

- State conservation.
- Singular characteristics and spectacular (Those who leave us with their mouths open and remember for life).
- Surroundings and surroundings: forests, gardens, villages, etc.
- Pointing out the ones that are only Visitable by paying the entrance fee and those that can be seen from outside
- To those who our instinct told us "there you have to go"

What is the best way to visit the Loire Castles?

Bicycle, motorhome or, in the most general case, with your own car or opting for the rent a car (You already know that we recommend any comparator like Rentalcars that gets discounts of up to 1

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