Often referred to as the Cradle of the French or the Garden of France, the Loire Valley is where royals go to rule and we go to spectate. An ode to romance and beauty, the chateaux in this region are a testimony to the wealth and history of the preexisting French empire. Along the river bank you will find vineyards, orchards and open fields that provide an annual supply of wine, fruit, and legume. The magnificence of the valleys notable features are almost daunting; hard to put into words. Exploring, you cant help but wonder how people lived in such a state of luxury and frivolity.
Administered by women, the royal residence was renovated and the gardens enhanced under Diane de Poitiers. Ten years later, a widowed Catherine de Medici ordered the construction of the Grand Gallery across the river. The castle, gallery, Tour des Marques (the remains of an earlier constructed chateau), furnishings, carvings and rare selection of Flanders Tapestries make this an exceptional museum. Inspiring innovation and artistry from talents of both the Renaissance and Enlightenment, this chateau is a visionary. While there, make sure you visit Catherines Garden, Dianes Garden, the Maze, the Bouquet Factory, as well as the farm. After you visit you will understand why it defines the elegance and splendor of imperial France.
Admission fee: Adults 12,50 € Children under 18 9,50 € Students 9,50 € with identification
Chateau de Chambord
Easily recognizable, this chateau was originally constructed as a hunting lodge for Francois I in 1519. Ambitious, the monarch later revised the nature of the project, wanting it to represent imperial power and glory. Due to financial struggles and military obligations, it was not completed until Louis XIVs reign. With over 440 rooms and 365 fireplaces, the castle is best known for its double-helix staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci. With a plain interior, it is the chateaus intricate carvings and exterior details that define it. Make sure you drop by the king and queens quarters, as well as the interconnecting passages located on the 1st floor. Spend the day walking, cycling, or rowing throughout the grounds. From May to September there is a daily spectacle equestre at 11 45 h and 16 h.
Admission fee: Adult 11 €; Children under 18 years, and students between 18 and 25 FREE with identification; Admission + Equestrian show 21 €Online Generator Little alchemist Gems
Surrounded by the Indre River, this chateau is situated on the property of a former feudal castle. Built between 1518 and 1523 by Gilles Berthelot, a wealthy bourgeois, it exemplifies the successes of the French Renaissance. Described by Balzac as “a faceted diamond framed by the Indre, this dwelling houses many medieval characteristics and is best known for its unusual L shape. With period furnishings and an audio guide, history will come to life before you. This chateau might be small, but it is mighty.
Admission fee: Adult 8,50 € Children under 18 and students 18-25 are free
The royal Château at Amboise was confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century. Situated on a ridge, it overlooks the surrounding valley. While there, admire the extravagance of gothic architecture at Saint Hubert chapel. Here you can visit the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci who was invited by Louis XII to stay only meters away from the royal residence. Many Italian artists also worked at Amboise, completely transforming the castle to reflect the style of the Renaissance. An Italian horticulturist was later asked to improve the propertys gardens and overall landscape. Fun fact, Amboise is known for inspiring the Conspiracy of Amboise: a prelude to the religious wars.
Admission fee: Adult 10,9 € Student 9,4 € Children under 18 7,3 €
Chateau de Villandry
Known for its six gardens, the chateau and its gardens opened in 1536. The last of the large castles to have been built during the Renaissance, it is remembered for the sights and smells of its surrounding periphery: The Water Garden, The Wood, The Audience, The Ornamental Garden (first and second salons), The Kitchen Garden, The Herb Garden, and The Sun Garden. Spend an afternoon getting lost in The Maze or exploring The Village and Church.
Admission fee: Adult 10 euros, Children under 18 and Students 18-25 6, 50 euros
BONUS: Chartres Cathedral
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this medieval Catholic cathedral is a classic example of French Gothic architecture. Constructed between 1194 and 1250, it is famous for its original stained glass windows and ornate spire atop the old tower. Each window depicts an important narrative, highlighting a theological theme. The Sancta Camisa, the supposed tunic worn by the Virgin Mary at Christs birth, makes this a popular destination for both traveler and pilgrim alike. While visiting I had the pleasure of touring the monument alongside Malcolm Miller. A historian and published author, he has famously stated that though he has been a guide there since 1958, he is still learning about it. Dont miss this chance. If you have the opportunity, this tour is well-worth the visit!
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