Ahhh, the Chateaux of the Loire Valley - dreamy, enchanting, elegant and, some might say, the stuff of fairytales. Built along the River Loire, the chateaux are ideally situated for visiting when on a barge holiday in France. A UNESCO site since 2000, this area that stretches from Sully-sur-Loire to Chalonnes was once home to the influential kings of the Renaissance. |
It is a tricky task to rate these castles, as they are all unique and each one has its own majestic appeal; but here we’ve put together our favourites, all of which are wonderful places to visit on a barge holiday in France’s beautiful Loire region.
This huge complex consists of 564 rooms, including 100 bedrooms. Built around a stunning courtyard, the wings lead off to create the layout of one of the most spectacular castles in the region. Every single room has a fireplace; can you imagine?
One of the most romantic chateau in the Loire, this elegant building is located on an island of the Indre River. As the reflection of the castle dances in the gently flowing waters of the river, the refined and graceful facade is brought to life. The surrounding gardens have been perfectly manicured in an English style and epitomise tranquility.
Pure extravagance, this is the largest chateau of the Loire Valley. Exuding a splendour like no other, it is a truly magnificent place to visit. You really have to see it to appreciate the aesthetic of this castle; it is definitely one that is fit for a king.
Built in the heart of the Garden of France (“douceur de vivre”) high up on a rocky cliff top, this chateau appears somewhat imposing as it stands proud above the city and the river below. Leonardo Da Vinci lived close by in the mansion of Le Clos-Lucé and had close ties with this remarkable spot.
Possibly the most famous when it comes to photographs of these stunning chateaux, the arches of Chenonceau span the River Cher. Many great women lived here over centuries past, including Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici. The latter added the wing that is built over the river.
The perfect symmetrical design of this building is certainly eye-catching. Built in the first half of the 17th century, the facade is particularly striking. Stark white stones from the quarries of the Cher Valley were used to create its classic aesthetic, which is complemented by the English-style garden that surrounds it. The castle was the inspiration for “Château de Moulinsart” (Marlinspike Hall), which features in the Tintin comics.
All of these beautiful chateaux are open for visitors and make for wonderful excursions when you are on a barge holiday in France. If you are planning to explore this region from the comfort of a floating hotel, then seek out a specialist tour operator and let them advise you on the best options. Expert teams have all the information at their fingertips and can help you get your dream barge holiday in France off the ground in no time.
Author Plate Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider if you're looking for an all-inclusive, luxury barge holiday in France or other great destinations. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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