Whether you’re passionate about history, architecture, or simply seeking a romantic getaway in France, the Châteaux de la Loire will satisfy your curiosity. Indeed, the grandiose beauty and fascinating history of France are intertwined in these architectural treasures, nestled in verdant settings and bordered by a magnificent river. It’s no wonder that these impressive constructions have captivated visitors from around the world for centuries, offering an intriguing journey through time. However, such a dive into the history of France requires planning. Here are some tips for a memorable visit to these castles, among the most beautiful in Europe.
Make Choices and Plan Your Trip Well
There are nearly 3,000 castles scattered across the various departments of the Loire Valley. Unless you have a very long vacation or are incredibly patient and live in the area, it is unfortunately difficult to visit them all! This means you will need to establish an itinerary based on your interests and the time you have. However, some castles are considered must-sees and safe bets, such as the Château de Chambord, Château de Chenonceau (nicknamed the “Château des Dames”), Château de Blois, Château de Villandry, Château d’Amboise, Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Château de Saumur, and Château de Cheverny. Choose according to your preferences and the activities you’d like to do in the area.
For assistance with your choices and organizing your immersion in the history of French nobility, don’t hesitate to research the best tours of the Loire Valley Castles.
When to Visit the Castles of the Loire Valley?
You can visit year-round. However, some periods are quieter, allowing you to better enjoy their splendor. There are significantly more holidaymakers during the summer, which can make it harder to take photos without tourists. If that’s not a deal-breaker, bring sunscreen to enjoy the gardens without sunburn!
For those who prefer fewer tourists, spring, from May to June, offers milder weather and beautiful blooming gardens. Early autumn is also charming. If possible, visit early in the morning or late afternoon, as castles are often quieter at opening and closing times.
How to Get Around to See the Castles of the Loire?
Having a car or renting one gives you more flexibility. This allows you to see more castles and stop in surrounding towns and villages worth visiting. For public transport enthusiasts, it’s possible to arrive by train in Blois, Amboise, or Tours and use buses and shuttles on the Rémi network covering the Centre-Val de Loire region. From Blois, Chambord and Cheverny are easily accessible. Additionally, a cycle route connects the different castles, allowing an ecological approach while enjoying the magnificent landscapes.
Where to Sleep? What About Experiencing Castle Life for a Night?
While not all Châteaux of the Loire offer overnight stays, some private owners have transformed them into charming hotels. You can sleep and dine at Château du Rivau or spend a night at Château de Tertres. If staying within the castle walls isn’t possible, sometimes you can stay on the estate in old outbuildings, like at the Relais de Chambord, offering a view of the castle, or in Cheverny, close to your visit.
For longer stays, consider campsites, quiet accommodations in Sologne, or hotels in nearby towns and villages. With a hotel room in Blois, Amboise, or Tours, you’ll have access to many nearby castles.
Final Recommendations for a Serene Visit
Firstly, check if you can buy tickets in advance. Booking online or at the entrance of the castles in the morning saves you from long queues. If you plan to visit several castles, consider a pass for discounts on admission.