Top châteaux to visit in the Loire Valley

Blois, Chambord, Chenonceau, Amboise, Cheverny, Sully-sur-Loire and Azay-le-Rideau… These are just some of the top 15 châteaux to visit in the Loire Valley. The very mention of their names inspires dreams of grandeur, from majestic architecture to stunning gardens. These amazing edifices that line the Loire Valley are part of an ensemble that forms the largest concentration of châteaux in the world. Let’s discover the greatest sites and hidden gems of the region!


Located in the heart of the beautiful city of Blois, this château never ceases to amaze visitors with its architecture and rich interiors. Formerly the favourite residence of seven kings and ten queens of France, it has lost nothing of its age-old charm. It is difficult not to be impressed by the elegant staircase in the Francis I wing or the grand façade of the Loges!

Highlights of the visit: the sound and light show, the royal apartments, the external architectural features, the Fine Arts Museum and the view of the facade of the Loges from the nearby park.

L. de Serres – OT Blois-Chambord
Cour intérieure et l'escalier au Chateau royal de Blois

The Château of CHAMBORD: the biggest of all the Loire châteaux

L. de Serres – Domaine National de Chambord
Le Chateau de Chambord - Jardin anglais

The only royal estate to have remained intact since its creation, Chambord is a genuine architectural masterpiece. Designed by Francis I, this Renaissance château is one of the most visited monuments in France. Come and meander along the paths in the vast park and step into the sumptuous building designed to reflect the glory of its creator.

Highlights of the visit: the château with its double-helix staircase, the chimneys, the magnificent garden, the carriage room and the amazing Christmas lights.

The Château of Chenonceau: the home of great ladies of the past

Château de Chenonceau
A. Verger – CRT Centre-Val de Loire

Located in Touraine, the Château of Chenonceau is undeniably one of the greatest gems of the Loire Valley. This “Ladies’ Château” is built over the Cher and was the home of several great historical ladies including Catherine de’ Medici, Diane de Poitiers and Louise of Lorraine.

Highlights of the visit: the château with its many richly decorated and furnished rooms, the two-storey gallery, the beautiful gardens, the plant maze and the amazing collection of paintings by great masters, worthy of an art museum!

The Château of Cheverny: The famous Marlinspike hall from the adventures of Tintin

The Château of Cheverny is easily recognisable by its distinctive Bourré stone, which whitens over time, but also and above all because it was the inspiration for Marlinspike Hall in the famous Tintin albums! Cheverny is a private château open to the public all year round and draws many visitors each year who come to admire the richness of its interiors and its magnificent gardens. Located near Chambord, it is a real must-see in the Loire Valley!

Highlights of the visit: the interiors of the château, the vast and very beautiful gardens, the permanent exhibition titled “The Secrets of Marlinspike”, electric boat trips and picnics in the park.

Famille au château de Cheverny
Chambre au château de Cheverny

The Château of le Clos Lucé: in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci

Château du Clos Lucé-Parc Leonardo Da Vinci – Photo Eric Sander
Le Chateau du Clos Luce depuis le parc

Visit the Château of Le Clos Lucé to travel back in time to 800 years ago and discover the amazing world of Leonardo da Vinci! Within the walls of this magnificent Renaissance residence, the Italian genius serenely lived out the final years of his life while working on the many projects that fascinated him. Here, he was not far from his friend and benefactor, Francis I, who lived in the Château of Amboise.

Highlights of the visit: the tour of the château and discovery of Leonardo da Vinci’s machines, the Renaissance cuisine in the Auberge du Prieuré, the Leonardo da Vinci Park and Leonardo’s garden, the wide range of fun activities for all the family.

The Château of Villandry: sublime gardens and magnificence

Chateau et jardins de Villandry à la nuit tombée
Frédéric Paillet – Château de Villandry

Not far from Tours, the Château of Villandry was one of the last great châteaux to be built in the Loire Valley. Dating from the 16th century, it is famous for the richness and splendour of its gardens. Its decorative kitchen garden is a real must-see, composed of nine identically sized squares planted with vegetables and flowers. It is a magical and unique sight that never fails to delight!

Highlights of the visit: the magnificent gardens of Villandry, which are open every day of the year, and the richly furnished and decorated rooms in the château, particularly the Oriental Room.

The royal Château of Amboise: a former residence of the kings of France

If you dream of admiring one of the most beautiful views of the Loire Valley, head to the Royal Château of Amboise! This perfect example of early French Renaissance architecture, former royal residence of the kings of France and burial place of Leonardo da Vinci has welcomed some of the greatest royalties in all of Europe. This incredible château won’t fail to amaze you with the richness of its furniture and its perfectly preserved buildings!

Highlights of the visit: the guided tour presenting the history of château, the 360° view of the Loire from the ramparts, the Saint-Hubert Chapel where Leonardo da Vinci is buried and the garden covering more than two hectares.

Pique-nique au château d'Amboise
L’Oeil d’Eos
Entrée du Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire

The regional Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire: a wonder of nature and culture

Like a balcony over the Loire, the Regional Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire reveals its hidden refinement and charm to all those lucky enough to enter through its gates! Brought to life by the extremely rich princely Broglie couple, who shaped it to their taste, the château is an architectural gem that is nonetheless sometimes overshadowed by the other star of the Domain: the amazing 32-hectare English park, a verdant wonder!

Highlights of the visit: the prestigious stables, which were the pride and joy of the Princess of Broglie, the richly decorated apartments and the magnificent English-style garden by landscape designer Henri Duchêne.

the Château of Azay-le-Rideau: romantic splendour

Luxury, calm and voluptuousness… This is what awaits you at the Château of Azay-le-Rideau! It is difficult to describe the peaceful and romantic atmosphere emanating from this architectural gem of the early French Renaissance that seems to float on the surface of the water. Take your time and admire each detail, from the interiors to the splendid park.

Highlights of the visit: the Honour Staircase, the fully Renaissance bedchamber of former mistress of the house Philippe Lesbahy and the magnificent English-style park surrounding the château.

Le chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau qui se reflète dans l'eau
Forteresse Royale de Chinon
JC Coutand – ADT Touraine

The royal fortress of Chinon: a fortified stronghold

Chinon is one of the rare fortified châteaux in the Loire Valley. Moreover, it is not any old château, but has a unique history featuring fierce battles and visits from famous guests such Joan of Arc. Perched on a rocky spur, the Royal Fortress of Chinon is a bold display of military architecture designed to resist all attacks!

Highlights of the visit: the interactive scenography, the large defence tower and the graffiti carved into the stones by the Templar dignitaries imprisoned in the Coudray Tower.

Christophe Mouton
Vue extérieure du Château de Langeais

The Château of Langeais: a medieval gem

When you visit the imposing Château of Langeais, you expect to bump into medieval knights at every turn! Here, everything tells of life in the Middle Ages in a fascinating way. From the military building to the remarkably lifelike scenography – particularly the scene of the wedding between Charles VIII and Anne of Brettany – come and discover one of the must-sees of the Loire Valley.

Highlights of the visit: the keep, which is one of the oldest in France, the decor in the different rooms of the château and the medieval-style gardens.

The Château of le Rivau: a fairytale experience

Enchanting and surprising, the Château of Le Rivau has something special about it, thanks to the work of its current owners who orchestrated its extraordinary transformation. It is they who created the theatrical scenography throughout the visit, as well as the magical gardens that complete this verdant picture.

Highlights of the visit: the must-see royal stables, the decoration of the château that combines the classical style and contemporary works, the magnificent gardens, the Gargantua Kitchen Garden and the exceptional Rose Garden.

Changx.chung Chateau du Rivau
Tulipes du Rivau

The Château of Sully-sur-Loire: a fortress in a verdant setting

Gillard et Vincent – CRT Centre-Val de Loire
Les douves et le Chateau de Sully-Sur-Loire

A magnificent medieval edifice, the Château of Sully-sur-Loire is named after its eminent owner Maximilien de Béthune. the Duke of Sully. A comrade-in-arms of King Henry IV, the duke turned the original building into an imposing fortress with interiors of exceptional beauty.

Highlights of the visit: the richly furnished interiors of the château, the Keep with the King’s Bedchamber, the “little château” and the vast natural park covering 42 hectares.

Vue sur la cité royale de Loches
Gillard et Vincent – CRT Centre-Val de Loire

the royal city of Loches: a military masterpiece

With its impressive architecture – a unique legacy of the heyday of the Renaissance – the Royal City of Loches is one of the most beautiful fortified cities in France. Perched on top of a rocky spur, it majestically overlooks the valley of the Indre. From the Royal Apartments to the Keep, let yourself be immersed in the history of France!

Highlights of the visit: the imposing Royal Gate, the keep with its unique prison art, the interactive visit with the HistoPad and the medieval-style gardens.

The Château of Valençay: the dazzling home of Talleyrand

Welcome to the former house of Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, an important diplomat under Napoleon who instilled a fabulous epicurean spirit into this Renaissance château. Visiting Valençay is like plunging into the heart of the aristocratic art de vivre of the 19th century. This sumptuous residence and its incredible 53-hectare park will easily charm you!

Highlights of the visit: the exceptional collections in the château, the Little Theatre with its First French Empire décor and the magnificent gardens bordered by the vast woodland estate.

Vue depuis le parc du Chateau de Valençay

Other châteaux and landmark sites in the Loire Valley

Continue your peregrination from château to château and discover other Loire Valley gems! Less well-known than their neighbours, these edifices are just as much worth a visit. Head to the Château of La Ferté Saint-Aubin, set in the heart of a magnificent 50-hectare wooded park, or the Château of Ussé with its crenelated towers that inspired Charles Perrault for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. For a more medieval experience, head to the Fortress of Montbazon with its tower offering a spectacular view of the city!

Other must-sees include the Château of Meung-sur-Loire, which is one of the largest and oldest châteaux in Loiret, the Château of Villesavin in the heart of Sologne, and the Château of Gizeux which is houses an impressive collection of furniture and art objects. Fans of the Renaissance style will be enchanted by the Château of Talcy, while Downtown Abbey aficionados will be delighted to discover the atmosphere of their favourite series at the Château of Champchevrier, the former hunting lodge of Louis XI and Louis XIII.

To find out more, visit the website of the Les Châteaux de la Loire association.

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