An architectural masterpiece and a monumental building in every sense of the term, Chambord is the most emblematic of the Loire Valley châteaux. Born from the extravagant dreams of young King Francis I, this hunting palace epitomises the scope of his power and visionary spirit, already turned towards the Italian Renaissance. Five centuries later, the National Domain of Chambord is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and draws millions of visitors from all over the world every year.
Chambord is the “star” of the Loire Valley Châteaux. Through Chambord, Francis I aimed to build an edifice that reflected his power, and he would have been flattered to discover the incredible destiny of his hunting palace.

At first sight, the Château of Chambord is a breath-taking prospect: is it a ship? An optical illusion? This architectural masterpiece was commissioned by the young Francis I, who wanted a sumptuous edifice that would symbolise the full magnitude of his power. The king had a warrior’s spirit but at heart he was a lover of art and architecture, and his hunting palace encapsulated the transition between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Chambord was built like a medieval fortress with a square keep flanked by four towers, but all the decorative elements show a strong influence from the Italian Renaissance, most notably the famous double helix staircase. With bands of classical mouldings, pilasters and capitals, interlaces and rose windows, the ornamental lexicon was inspired by the Italian model. The salamander, François I’s emblem, is featured more than 300 times in the sculpted vaults and on the walls, spitting droplets of water or swallowing flames. It denotes the omnipresence of the king who nevertheless spent little time at this palace, which was primarily designed to dazzle the Court. The 40 suites were, for the most part, unfurnished, and it is easy to imagine troops of servants sent in advance to furnish and prepare the château before the arrival of the cavalcade of “celebrities” of yore. Today, the château ingeniously provides a digital tablet that allows visitors to discover Chambord as it was five centuries ago using augmented reality technology. Not that the building needs anything extra to showcase its breath-taking structure, and the same goes for the rest of the Estate!

The park stretches out over a total of 5,440 hectares, forming the largest enclosed forest park in Europe, and it has been listed as a National Reserve for fauna and hunting since 1947. More than 800 stag and deer and 1,500 wild boars live in this verdant site of oak and pine forests, moors, marshes and glades. The stags’ bellowing period, which occurs during the rutting season, is one of the most captivating times of the year, when nature enthusiasts or the simply curious climb the watchtowers to observe the stags’ mating ritual. Such moments illustrate the full appeal of Chambord, which is far from lying dormant on its ancient stone foundations… The estate lives to the rhythm of different events and activities that provide plenty of reasons to visit. 
Not to be missed

Architectural treasures

Nicknamed the Builder King, Francis I tore up the rules of architecture that he had inherited. Chambord illustrates the convictions of a king enraptured by Italian aesthetics. He dared to do what no one else did, and his château reveals his greatest acts of architectural audacity.
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Hidden treasure

French formal gardens

Destroyed during the inter-war period, the French formal gardens at the Château of Chambord have now been entirely restored, covering roughly 6.5 hectares.
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Chambord, a depository of artwork during the Second World War

We all know of the story of Chambord under Francis I, but many people are unaware of the patriotic role played by the château in the 20th century.
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News from the château
Practical information


Château of Chambord
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From € 16 /  person
Qualité TourismeLa Loire à VéloDémarche d'excellence grands sites
Things to see in the area
How to get there
The Château of Chambord is located 15km from Blois, which can be reached by train from Paris-Austerlitz station in an hour and a half. From April to October a bus service runs between the Blois-Chambord train station and the Château. The A10, A85 and A71 motorways all lead to the château, which is around 2 hrs’ drive from Paris.

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