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Seven Small Loire Valley Châteaux Hit the Big Time

Several lovely little Loire Valley châteaux, long overshadowed by their more illustrious neighbours such as Chambord and Cheverny, have capitalized on the drawing power of the ‘big boys’ to attract attention to their own. And although they may be small in size, they more than make up for it in character and charm!  
 
How to plan your tour, and some great places to wine and dine along the way. Click here for a Château Pass and visit them all for just 34 euros! Take a peek at one of the many sights you’ll be seeing: 


 
Itinerary 1: Start with the Château de Beauregard, a small family-owned estate and a former hunting lodge for King Francis I, which features a remarkable ‘portrait garden’ and one of the largest rose gardens in the Loire Valley. Then head to the Château de Villesavin, built by Jean Le Breton, who supervised the works at the Château de Chambord next door, and ‘borrowed’ the skills of the French and Italian craftsmen on the site for his own more modest but splendid château. Stop at the ‘L’Agriculture’ in Tour-en-Sologne, for a gourmet lunch highlighting local and seasonal produce.
 
Next stop: the Château de Troussay, the smallest of the Loire Valley châteaux, and an exquisitely furnished little gem owned by the same family since 1900. Stroll through its English-style landscaped park, or stay overnight and enjoy ‘la vie de château’ in a guesthouse onsite. Then off to the Château de Fougères-sur-Bièvre, a real medieval fortress, complete with keep, moat, cannon-hole, parapet walk, and sumptuously restored medieval gardens. Break at the Domaine de Montcy to meet the owner and sample some of her superb organic Loire Valley wines.
 
Itinerary 2: You can take in the next two châteaux in the Sologne region, further south, in one go. The pink brick, slate-roofed Château du Moulin, is a cross between a medieval fortress and baronial residence, with all the trappings of a cosy, comfortable family home. The Château de Selles-sur-Cher nearby is one of the most surprising in the Loire Valley, a mix of three châteaux in one: foundations dating from 935, a medieval castle and a Renaissance château. Enjoy a good meal at the ‘Lion d’Or’ restaurant in town, or a picnic on the banks of the Cher River. 
 
Itinerary 3: The Château de Talcy, a half-hour east of Blois, is a 16th century château that looks more like a gentleman’s country estate. Talcy has left its mark on love poetry, the ladies of the manor having inspired some the most famous sonnets in the French language. Treat yourself to a feast at the renowned Michelin-star restaurant ‘La Maison d’à Côté’ or for simpler fare, the ‘Le Bistrot d’à Côté’ next door.