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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 28 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Anna Brooke

Loire’s strikingly beautiful chateaux are a rich architectural legacy, left by the French royalty and bourgeoisie in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Some were built originally as feudal strongholds, but most as lavish summer residences set amid beautiful game-filled forests, close to the centre of power in Paris.

Many were ransacked or destroyed during the French Revolution, and some are still private homes, but many others are open to the public as hotels and museums.

Recommendations

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Chateau Angers

Angers, Pays de la Loire, France

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Bucket List Experience
Side view of the fortress with giant round buttress towers

A mighty medieval fortress with 17 stone towers, home to a collection of medieval tapestries including the vast, 103m-long Apocalypse Tapestry, woven for Duke Louis I of Anjou in 1375.

Adult price: £5

Best for ages 18+

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Chateau Azay-le-Rideau

Azay-le-Rideau, Centre-Val de Loire, France

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Bucket List Experience
Aerial view from above showing the beautiful turreted chateau surrounded by lake and river

A perfect fairy-tale castle, built in 1527, with historic portraits, tapestries and carved four-posters that beautifully capture the Renaissance lifestyle. One of the Loire’s most beautiful and romantic chateaux.

Adult price: £8

Best for ages 18+

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Chateau Beauregard

Cellettes, Centre-Val de Loire, France

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Bucket List Experience
Front facade of the chateau

Intimate Renaissance chateau famed for its fine gardens and outstanding portrait gallery of 327 kings, emperors, sultans, generals and other celebrities, from the 14th to the 17th centuries.

Adult price: £11

Best for ages 18+

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More details >

Chateau du Breze

Saumur, Pays de la Loire, France

Landscape view of Chateau de Breze on a blue summer's day with the vineyard at the front field of the chateau

Beneath this attractive Renaissance and neo-Gothic chateau is a remarkable 9th-century fortress, a troglodyte labyrinth complete with drawbridge, stables, and guardrooms. The chateau is also known for excellent wines, which you can taste in Les Caves de la Comtesse de Colbert in the chateau grounds.

Adult price: £10

Best for ages 18+

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More details >

Chateau Chambord

Chambord, Centre-Val de Loire, France

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Bucket List Experience
External view of the chateau rear from the river

The Loire’s grandest chateau, an astonishing 440-room, 16th-century Renaissance colossus filled with a vast collection of furniture, tapestries, antiques, objets d’arts, and a double helix staircase thought to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Adult price: £10

Best for ages 18+

Chateau Chenonceau

Chenonceaux, Centre-Val de Loire, France

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Bucket List Experience
View of the Chenonceau Chateau arches from the river

The Loire’s most visited chateau remains magical for its fine late Gothic and Renaissance architecture, its outstanding collections of furniture and art, and its colourful history at the hands of extraordinary women.

Adult price: £10

Best for ages 18+

Chateau Cheverny

Cheverny, Centre-Val de Loire, France

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Bucket List Experience
Front of the chateau with a beautiful garden, pond and fountain in the foreground

Richly decorated 17th-century chateau showcasing six centuries of family history, with good wine tasting and a kennel of 100 hounds.

Adult price: £12

Best for ages 18+

Chateau Oiron

Oiron, Centre-Val de Loire, France

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Bucket List Experience
Front facade of the imposing chateau, built in a 'U' shape

Beautiful 16th-17th century chateau with Renaissance murals and packed with curiosities – a brilliant encounter between a beautiful old building and an adventurous collection of contemporary artworks.

Adult price: £6

Best for ages 18+

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More details >

Chateau Royal Amboise

Amboise, Centre-Val de Loire, France

Side view of the chateau from the river

Imposing vaulted, history-rich chateau built in the 15th century that became the favoured residence of French kings and queens. The tiny vaulted Gothic chapel contains the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci.

Adult price: £12

Best for ages 18+

Chateau Royal Blois

Blois, Centre-Val de Loire, France

Front of the building, showing ornate stonework

Around a grand courtyard famed for its Gothic staircase, four furnished wings reflect the 17 monarchs Kings and Queens who lived there. It’s a miniature history tour all packed into one, with architecture going from the Middle Ages to the 17th century.

Adult price: £11

Best for ages 18+

Gardens of Chateau Villandry

Villandry, Centre-Val de Loire, France

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Bucket List Experience
Red flowers and green shrubs in square hedged patterns in front of chateau

One of the world’s most beautiful gardens, including a truly remarkable vegetable garden, in the grounds of a UNESCO-listed chateau.

Adult price: £6

Best for ages 18+

Logistics

Price from: £11
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

It’s easy to visit the chateaux independently. You’ll need a car (or bike) to get between most of them, although some of the greatest chateaux, including Blois, Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chinon and Angers, can be reached by local train services. Booking is not required – you can just turn up.

When to do it

The bigger chateaux are open all year around, though smaller ones may close in winter (generally November to February). Opening times vary by chateaux and season.

Who to go with: organised tours

5

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Loire Valley Day Tour Chambord and Chenonceau plus Lunch at a Private Castle

Tours

Loire Valley Day Tour Chambord and Chenonceau plus Lunch at a Private Castle
Jump into the heart of French history by visiting the 2 most prestigious châteaux of the Loire Valley. Feel the intimacy of a lesser known private family-owned château and enjoy a typical French lunch away from tourist groups. Let yourself be guided by your local expert and learn about the intimate little secrets of the French Kings who once lived in Château de Chambord and Château de Chenonceau. Enjoy off-the-crowd panoramic views, benefit from wealth of thrilling genuine details and funny anecdotes and make the most of this exciting day. 

Price: €229

Min age: 4

Rating 4.92 / 5 [248 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Day Tour of Chateaux of Chenonceau, Chambord & Caves Ambacia from Tours/Amboise

Tours

Day Tour of Chateaux of Chenonceau, Chambord & Caves Ambacia from Tours/Amboise
Enjoy a small group 9-hour tour in the Loire Valley. Your professional tour guide will show you the two most famous chateaux of the region, Chenonceau and Chambord, aboard a comfortable air-conditioned minivan. Then, taste great wines such as Vouvray at Caves Ambacia.

Price: €229

Min age: 0

Rating 4.56 / 5 [89 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Loire Valley Tour Chambord and Chenonceau from Tours or Amboise

Tours

Loire Valley Tour Chambord and Chenonceau from Tours or Amboise
Jump into the heart of French history by visiting the 2 most prestigious châteaux of the Loire Valley during the greet the warm ambiance of Christmas. Let yourself be guided by your local expert and learn about the intimate little secrets of the French Kings who once lived there. Enjoy off-the-crowd panoramic views and benefit from wealth of thrilling genuine details and funny anecdotes... an exciting day!

Price: €179

Min age: 4

Rating 4.97 / 5 [36 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Loire Valley Castles VIP Private Tour: Chambord, Chenonceaux, Amboise

Loire Valley

Loire Valley Castles VIP Private Tour: Chambord, Chenonceaux, Amboise
Take away the hassle out of planning your day trip to the Loire Valley, the birthplace of French Renaissance with more 120 châteaux (estates), on this private luxury tour with roundtrip transportation from Paris. Highlights include visits to Leonardo da Vinci's home and tomb, outstanding Gothic architecture, and plenty of time to enjoy three of the Loire Valley's most impressive and famous châteaux.

Price: €750

Min age: 0

Rating 4.8 / 5 [30 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Loire Valley Half Day : Villandry and Azay-le-Rideau from Tours

Tours

Loire Valley Half Day : Villandry and Azay-le-Rideau from Tours
During this morning, visit the unique and elegant gardens of Chateau de Villandry and the lovely Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau. Your passionate guide will stay with you all along the tour, sharing with you funny anecdotes and all his knowledge of the region. An unforgettable experience !

Price: €109

Min age: 4

Rating 4.72 / 5 [29 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides

1

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Loire Valley

Loire Valley, France

Exterior of the front of the chateau, with a tree-lined driveway in foreground

Northern France’s beautiful UNESCO-listed valley, home to heart-stoppingly beautiful historic chateaux, authentic village life, world-class wines and fascinating troglodytes.