Discover the enchantment of Loire Valley castles. Immerse in rich history and cultural treasures. These are the most beautiful castles in the Loire!
Why are there so many castles in the Loire?
The Loire region, also known as the Loire Valley, is a picturesque and historically significant region in central France, crossed by the Loire River and its tributaries. This region is known for its abundance of magnificent castles (or chateaus in French).
I know what you think: why are there so many castles in the Loire Valley? Back in the day, the Loire region was an attractive area for both royal and noble families to build castles and estates because of its strategic location and fertile land. These castles served not only as residences but also as centers of art, culture, and political power during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
The Loire region has a unique combination of natural beauty and history, with charming villages, vineyards, gardens, and meadows full of sunflowers stretching along the banks of the river. The region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the extraordinary architecture and cultural-historical significance of its castles and estates.
A visit to the Loire region is therefore an unforgettable experience where history, culture, and nature come together.
The most beautiful castles in the Loire Valley
Are you curious to learn more and would you like to know which castles to visit during a vacation in the Loire region? These are the most beautiful castles in the Loire.
Forteresse Royale de Chinon
The village of Chinon is one of the most beautiful villages I personally visited in the Loire Valley. The village lies on the river Vienne (a tributary of the Loire) and through narrow pretty streets you climb up to the ruins of the medieval castle.
Everywhere in Chinon and in the castle you will find statues and reminders of Joan of Arc who stayed in this castle in 1429. Furthermore, the castle was inhabited by the kings of England and France. It is an impressive ruin to walk through and the view of the Vienne River and surrounding vineyards is stunning.
Château de Saumur
The Château de Saumur is one of Loire’s most stunning castles. It sits on a hill above the town of Saumur, on the banks of the Loire River. The castle has a long and rich history, dating back to the 10th century. It has been remodeled and modernized several times over the centuries, but it has retained its original charm.
The castle is a must-see for anyone interested in history, architecture or just wanting to see a beautiful view. From the towers of the castle, you have a great view of the city of Saumur and the surrounding Loire Valley. You can also visit the museum, which houses a collection of art, furniture, and other historical objects.
- For more information and opening hours, visit the castle’s website.
Château de Chambord
The Château de Chambord is the largest and most impressive castle in the Loire Valley. It is a must-see for anyone who wants to visit the most beautiful castles in the Loire.
The castle was built in the 16th century by King Francis I as a hunting lodge and was used as a royal residence by several French monarchs. It is known for its unique Renaissance architecture and distinctive double spiral staircases said to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
The castle is surrounded by a large park with woods, ponds and gardens. You can go hiking, biking, horseback riding or just enjoy the beautiful views.
- Buy your tickets now and skip the line.
The Château de Chaumont is a beautiful castle along the Loire River, between the cities of Orleans and Tours. The castle itself is beautiful to see, but the gardens are truly spectacular. They are world famous for the castle’s annual international garden festival.
The festival takes place in the summer and lasts about two months. During this time, the gardens will be transformed with creative and innovative designs by landscapers from around the world. It’s a great opportunity to see what the latest trends in gardening are and get inspiration for your own garden.
In addition to the garden festival, there are many other things to see and do at the Château de Chaumont. You can take a tour of the castle, see the museum collections or just enjoy the beautiful view of the Loire Valley.
Château de Serrant
The Château de Serrant is a beautiful castle that is not as well known as some of the other castles in the Loire Valley. That’s too bad because it is definitely worth a visit. The castle was built in the 14th century and later renovated in the Renaissance style. It has a stately and elegant appearance, and the interior is beautifully decorated with period furniture and artwork.
A special feature of Château de Serrant is the fact that it is still owned by the same family that acquired it in the 16th century. This adds to the authentic atmosphere of the castle, and it’s a great idea to take a tour of the castle to learn more about the family’s history and the castle itself.
- Check the official website for opening hours and tickets.
Not far from Chinon, you will find the Castle of Ussé on the Indre, another tributary of the Loire. It is a castle out of a fairy tale book: big and lots of turrets. It is even said that author Charles Perrault based the famous fairy tale Sleeping Beauty on this castle.
Accordingly, the story of Sleeping Beauty is depicted in this castle (which we adults found a bit doltish, but perhaps it is fun for children). In addition, you can visit many special rooms in this castle, which have been completely restored and also furnished as it used to look. Next to the castle is also a beautiful little chapel that you can also visit.
- More information about the castle, opening hours, and entrance fees can be found on the official website of Ussé Castle.
Château de Valençay
The Château de Valençay is another magnificent castle in the Loire Valley. Known for its magnificent Renaissance architecture and beautiful gardens, it was built in the thirteenth century. It was the residence of several prominent figures in French history, including Napoleon Bonaparte. The castle is open to visitors from mid-March to mid-November.
The castle is a must-see for anyone interested in history, architecture or just wanting to see a beautiful view. The castle has a long and rich history, and the interior is beautifully decorated with period furniture and artwork. The gardens are also a feast for the eyes, with their lush flowers, fountains, and statues.
- Check the castle’s website for more information and tickets.
Château de Cheverny
The Château de Cheverny is often considered one of the most beautiful and elegant castles in the region. The castle was built in the seventeenth century and is still owned by the same family.
What makes the Château de Cheverny extra special is that it served as the inspiration for Hergé’s “Castle Molensloot” in the Tintin comics. The similarities between the two castles are striking, and fans of Tintin will undoubtedly feel at home at Château de Cheverny.
The castle and its grounds are well maintained and include beautiful gardens, a large park, and even a dog kennel with packs of hunting dogs fed daily in a public ceremony.
- Check the official website for more information.
Chenonceau Castle is considered one of the most beautiful castles in France. The castle is located on the river Le Cher, which is a tributary of the Loire River. Yes, you read correctly, this castle is on the river. The castle is well-maintained and you can visit the various rooms throughout the year. The surrounding gardens are also very impressive, so make sure the weather is nice when you visit this castle.
Château Royal de Blois
Château Royal de Blois is one of the most beautiful castles in France. It is located in the city of Blois, on the Loire River. The castle was built in the 12th century and was inhabited by King Louis XII and King Francis I, among others. It has numerous beautiful halls and apartments full of works of art from the 16th to 19th centuries.
The castle is composed of four wings, each built in a different style. The oldest wing is the medieval wing, which dates from the 12th century. The Renaissance wing was built in the fifteenth century and is the most elegant part of the castle. The classical wing was built in the 16th century and is more austere in form. The eighteenth-century wing was built in the style of classicism. It is truly a joy to walk around here!
Château d’Amboise is one of the most beautiful castles in France. Located on the banks of the Loire River, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 15th century, the castle was the residence of several French kings, including Charles VIII and Francis I.
One of the most famous residents of Château d’Amboise was Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci came to Amboise in 1516 and lived there until his death in 1519. He worked on several projects at the castle, including a flying machine and a submarine. Da Vinci is buried in the chapel of Saint Hubert, located in the castle grounds.
Château d’Azay-le-Rideau is a beautiful castle on the banks of the Indre River in the Loire Valley. Built in the early 16th century, the castle represents the transition from medieval fortifications to more sophisticated castles.
The castle has an ornate blend of Renaissance elements and traditional French architecture. The elegant turrets, mirror-smooth canals, and beautiful reflections in the water create a picturesque and romantic view.
- Buy tickets for your visit to Château d’Azay-le-Rideau
Abbey of Fontevraud
Technically this is not a castle, but definitely worth a visit if you are in the Loire: the Abbey of Fontevraud. This is the best-preserved collection of monastic buildings in the world. Located in the tiny village of Fontevraud-l’Abbaye, the large complex is a major attraction. Many of those who stayed at the aforementioned Chinon Castle also came to this abbey. Buried in the abbey, among others, is Richard Lionheart, whom many people will know from the stories of Robin Hood.
- On the official website of Fontevraud Abbey, you can read more about the structures, opening hours, and entrance fees.
Château de Brissac
Château de Brissac is the tallest castle in France, with as many as seven floors. It is also one of the oldest castles in the country, with parts dating back to the 11th century. The castle has a rich history and was the residence of several noble families over the centuries. Over the centuries, it has been renovated and expanded several times to meet the changing needs of its residents.
The castle is built on a hilltop in the Loire Valley. It is surrounded by a moat and has an impressive facade with towers and battlements. The interior of the castle is richly decorated with works of art, furniture, and other objects from the 16th to 19th centuries.
- Go to the official website for more information.
Château de Villandry
Château de Villandry is absolutely one of the most gorgeous castles in the Loire. The castle was built in the 16th century by Jean Le Breton, a wealthy French nobleman. Le Breton wanted to create a grand and luxurious residence and he certainly succeeded! The castle is beautifully situated on the banks of the Cher River, and it is surrounded by lush and colorful gardens.
The gardens of Château de Villandry are divided into four themes: the kitchen garden, the love garden, the water garden, and the sun garden. The kitchen garden is a beautiful garden with a wide variety of fruit and vegetable plants. The love garden is a romantic garden with a fountain, a pergola, and a pond. The water garden is a serene garden with a waterfall, basin, and fountain. The sun garden is a colorful garden with a rose garden, a sundial, and a pergola.
- Buy your tickets now for this amazing castle and its gardens.
In my opinion, these are the most beautiful castles in the Loire! Which ones would you like to visit someday? There are of course many more castles (and other interesting landmarks) to be found in the Loire, on this page you will find an overview.
Book a trip to the Loire
Would you love to visit this beautiful region full of castles? Book your trip now!
✈️ Plane tickets – The nearest airport to visit the castles of the Loire Valley is Tours. However, flying to Nantes would be a better option. Check WayAway to find the best deals and get cashback on plane tickets.
🚆 Train tickets – Are you interested in a more sustainable way of traveling? It’s easy to reach larger cities like Tours and Nantes by train, from there you can continue your trip with a rental car. Check Rail Europe for train tickets.
🚘 Rental Car – As some of the castles are quite remote, you’ll need a rental car to visit them all. Check Rental Cars to find the best deals.
🛏️ Accommodation – Take your time to discover all the castles. Check out Booking.com for nice places to spend the night. You might even find a castle to stay in!
Want to read more about the Loire Valley and France?
Would you like to discover more beautiful places in the Loire and France? Get one of these great travel guides:
In addition, you can also read more about a trip to France on this website. You might like to read these articles as well:
- 22 Most Beautiful Castles in France
- Epic 2-week Normandy road trip itinerary
- 25 Best cities in France to spend the weekend
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