Chambord in the Loire Valley the most beautiful castle

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Defining the most beautiful castles of the Loire Valley is a very difficult exercise. First of all because there are really a lot of them. I must have visited more than twenty of them, and there are still many others. Famous ones, intimate ones, some royal, others little known. Some medieval, some Renaissance. In short, there is really something for everyone, and more!

Then, saying “the most beautiful” is totally subjective. I am not the first one to make this list, and everyone proposes different castles. For my part, I tried to vary a little, to propose castles which really bring something and not only a pretty façade (there are many). Some of them are full of history and put it forward, and I admit I love that.

Anyway, here is my list of the most beautiful castles of the Loire Valley, which you will find in detail below:

  • Chenoncea
  • Chambord
  • Azay le Rideau
  • Cheverny
  • Angers
  • Amboise
  • The Royal City of Loches
  • Chaumont sur Loire
  • Ussé
  • Blois
  • Rivau
  • Villandry and its gardens

Most of these castles are included in this 3 day itinerary in the heart of the Loire valley. Don’t hesitate to take a look !

1. Chenonceau, the most romantic castle

It is beautiful, sooo beautiful ! And it is different. Chenonceau is undoubtedly one of the emblematic castles of the Loire Valley and also of French history. Each of its occupants has been improving it, especially via its superb arches crossing the Cher River. This double gallery is unique and makes Chenonceau an indispensable castle during your stay within the Loire castles. We will also appreciate to walk along the Cher river, to have different views over the castle and why not to make a small tour by boat!

Chenonceau is also nicknamed the “Château des Dames”, because it was the place of many intrigues, in particular between Catherine de Medicis, wife of King Henry II and Diane de Poitiers, his mistress (of Henry II, not Catherine). After having recovered it by force, Catherine of Medicis the Florentine will have the gallery built and thus giving the castle its air of Ponte Vecchio.

Chenonceau castle loire valley

Useful information

  • Opening hours : VERY variable hours depending on the day, from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm to 9 am to 7 pm (in high season)
  • Price : 15,50€ / 12,50€ (7-18 yo / french students) / free (-7yo, disability)
  • Booking : mandatory. Book your ticket here.
  • Parking : free parking a little before the cashier’s desk
  • By train : Chenonceaux station, 25min from Tours
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : the AUBERGE DU BON LABOUREUR in Chenonceaux, a few minutes walk from the castle

2. Chambord, the most beautiful castle of the Loire Valley

Another story, another architect, another atmosphere. But in my opinion, the most beautiful castle. An architecture of truly magnificent finesse. And it would be the work of Leonardo da Vinci, at the request of King Francis I, who, on returning from his victory at Marignan, wanted a castle worthy of his ego.

Well, in the end, Da Vinci died before it was completed, and François I only stayed there for a short time, but we make the most of it during our visit. The castle is magnificent from the outside, the rooms inside are probably less elaborate, but you should not miss the terraces, which are fantastic!

Finally, the park is huge and you can easily walk along the canal, especially for the sunset and why not attend the deer call in the forest in autumn!

chambord castle loire valley blue hour

Useful information

  • Opening hours : 9am-6pm (25 March to end of October + Christmas) / 9am-5pm the rest of the year
  • Price : 16€ / 13,5€ (unemployed, groups…) / free (-18 years / 18-25 EU…)
  • Booking Book your ticket here.
  • Parking : paying, from 4 to 6€ /day. P2 recommended, cheaper and better view
  • By train : Blois/Chambord station. Then bus from Blois
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : a magical night in front of the Castle, at the RELAIS DE CHAMBORD
  • Article : find out more information about Chambord

3. Azay le Rideau, a masterpiece of the Renaissance

Another simply magnificent castle. Azay le Rideau is a masterpiece of Italian Renaissance wanted by François I (again). Balzac described it in “Lys dans la Vallée” as “a faceted diamond set in the Indre on stilts covered with flowers”, and he paid tribute to it in several other works.

And he was right, for Azay le Rideau is situated on its own island, surrounded by the Indre and with beautiful gardens all around. This makes for great views and a very pleasant walk.

But the interior of the castle is not to be outdone. Very fine work, beautifully decorated, staged with automatons, all this will make your visit very pleasant.

Castle Azay le rideau Loire valley

Useful information

  • Opening hours  : 9.30am-6pm (April, May, June, September), 9.30am-7pm (July, August), 10am-5.15pm the rest of the year
  • Price : 11,5€ / free (-18 yo / 18-25 UE, disabled, unemployed…)
  • Booking : Book your ticket here
  • Parking : plenty of free parking outside and in the town
  • By train : Azay le Rideau train station, 2km from the castle, Tours-Chinon line
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : one night in a troglodyte house at the hotel TROGLODODO

4. The Château of Cheverny, a class apart

Normally, this castle rings a bell without you ever having visited it. And with good reason: it is the castle of Moulinsart in Tintin, the castle of Captain Haddock. There is also a permanent exhibition on Hergé’s work, “The secrets of Moulinsart”.

Cheverny is said to be the “best furnished” castle. I must admit that it is not bad at all, the decoration is magnificent. It’s a nice walk inside and out, with its totally different architecture, “à la française”, which dates from the 17th century.

Finally, Cheverny has kennels for more than a hundred hunting dogs, which can be visited. And most importantly, there are some great wine producers right next door, I particularly like the white wine Clos Cheverny.

cheverny castle loire valley

Useful information

  • Opening hours : 9.15am-6pm (April-September) / 10am-5pm (October-March)
  • Price : 14€ (18,5€ +exposition) / 10€ (students, unemployed…)
  • Booking : purchase only on site
  • Parking : 3 free parkings right next door
  • By train : Blois-Chambord train station then bus from station (6€ roundtrip)
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : the pretty cottage AU COEURS DES CHÂTEAUX in Cheverny

5. Angers, such a surprising castle

To the west, the Château d’Angers is the last of the Loire castles. And far from being the worst! It is also totally surprising. A very well preserved medieval fortress, but recognisable by its black layers, which are due to the use of slate during construction.

But that’s not all, because the castle features the Apocalypse Tapestry, the largest medieval tapestry in the world. And it is super well preserved!

Finally, don’t miss a visit to the historic centre of Angers, which is really beautiful and very pleasant. You can easily stay in Angers for a weekend to enjoy the city.

Angers Castle Loire Valley

Useful information

  • Opening hours : 10am-6.30pm (May-August) / 10am-5.30pm (September-April)
  • Price : 9,5€ / free (-18, 18-25 EU, unemployed…)
  • Booking : Book your ticket here
  • Parking : the area is pedestrian, you have to walk 10 minutes from the parking areas
  • By train : Angers train station, easily accessible from Tours, Paris, Nantes
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : the magnificent lodging l’OISELLERIE, a historic house in the heart of the city

6. Chaumont sur Loire, massive and beautiful

This one was a wonderful surprise. I had been eyeing it for a long time. I love medieval castles, so with its big towers I was bound to like it. During my visit I was more than pleasantly surprised. Aesthetically of course, halfway between the medieval and the renaissance, but also for its gardens and especially the festival dedicated to them! Surprising creations and also a small tropical greenhouse.

The visit to the castle is also very pleasant, nicely decorated. While outside you will appreciate the different styles of architecture and the slate roofs.

Finally, it has a funny history as Catherine de Medicis and Diane de Poitiers are still there. When Henri II died, the former (his wife) gave the castle of Chaumont to the latter (his mistress) in order to get back Chenonceau.

Chaumont Castle Loire Valley

Useful information

  • Opening hours : 10am-7pm (April-October) 10am-5.30pm (November-March)
  • Price : 14€ (November-April) / 20€ (May-October due to the garden festival)
  • Booking : Book your ticket here
  • Parking : free parking below the castle and in the village
  • By train : Chaumont train station, 20min from Tours
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : the pretty hotel LES DEUX ÂNES a few kilometers from Chaumont
Kyriad Tours


  • Very good and very practical
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chateau la bourdaisière


  • In the heart of the Loire Valley
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Chateau de Perreux Amboise


  • A very elegant château
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Relais Chambord


  • Sleep facing the castle!
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7. Ussé, Sleeping Beauty Castle

Another beautiful castle! It is said that the castle of Ussé is the castle of Sleeping Beauty because it is while sleeping there that Charles Perrault had the idea to write his famous tale and was inspired by the enchanting setting of the castle. The visit of the castle is made through scenes related to the tale. For the great romantics with, for example, the prince’s kiss to wake Ariane.

But the castle is also very beautiful, a very nice architecture mixing medieval, gothic and renaissance, which gives it its unique aspect, with its very pretty towers and its very elaborate inner courtyard.

There is also a small chapel, but it is rarely open.

Ussé Castle Loire valley

Useful information

  • Opening hours : 10am-7pm (April-September) / 10am-6pm (October-March)
  • Price : 14€
  • Booking : no online booking possible
  • Parking : free parking outside the castle
  • By train : no train station nearby
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : the CLOS D’USSE, a very good hotel at the foot of the castle

8. Blois, the gateway to the Châteaux of the Loire

We tend to forget it (me first, I confess) but Blois is the first big castle on the eastern side of the Loire Valley. And frankly, it is also very beautiful, and surprising. Its masterpiece is the spiral staircase halfway outside the castle.

But you will also find in Blois 4 different architectures, well differentiated because each wing of the castle was built at a different time. A medieval wing, a gothic wing, a renaissance wing and a classical wing, the most recent (17th century).

The castle of Blois also has the particularity of offering a sound and light show in the evening, about its history and the history of France. Frankly, a very interesting experience for young and old alike!

Chateau blois val de loire
Chateau blois val de loire

Useful information

  • Opening hours : 9-19h (July-August) / 9-18h30 (April-June, September, October) / 10-17h (November-March)
  • Price : 14€ / 10,5€ (student, unemployed…) / 7€ (6-17 yo)
  • Booking: Book your ticket here
  • Parking : free parking in town 10 minutes away, 2 paid car parks nearby
  • By train : Blois-Chambord train station
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : the IBIS hotel, very practical at the foot of the castle

9. Amboise, the royal residence

The Château d’Amboise is THE royal residence. Charles VIII and especially François I (whose favourite castle it was) lived there for a long time. Although the originally huge castle has been partly razed to the ground, there is still a good bit of it that is very interesting. As it was the home of the kings, I recommend using the histopad to immerse yourself in the history of the castle and therefore the history of France.

The architecture of the castle, which overlooks the Loire, is magnificent and you can also enjoy a visit to the French gardens. But Amboise is also a very pretty little town where it is very pleasant to walk around. Take the opportunity to discover the Clos Lucé, the last residence of Leonardo de Vinci with his inventions, and also Château Gaillard.

Amboise Castle Loire Valley

Useful information

  • Opening hours: VERY variable, from 10-16h (January) to 9-19h (July-August)
  • Price : 15€ / 12,2€ (student) / 9,3€ (7-18yo)
  • Booking : Book your ticket here
  • Parking : Paid parking around and in the town centre. Free parking 5 minutes south
  • By train : Amboise train station on the Blois Tours line, sometimes trains from Paris Austerlitz
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : the beautiful CHATEAU DE PRAY in Amboise city center
  • Article : find out more about Amboise


It’s free!

Over 70 pages of information on :

  • Indispensable castles
  • Practical information (planners, comparators, routes, itineraries…)
  • More than 30 castles to discover
  • The most beautiful towns
  • Where to sleep


It’s free!

Over 70 pages of information on :

  • Indispensable castles
  • Practical information (planners, comparators, routes, itineraries…)
  • More than 30 castles to discover
  • The most beautiful towns
  • Where to stay

10. Villandry, the most beautiful gardens of the Loire Castles

Truly the most beautiful gardens in the region. It’s their trademark, the Château de Villandry is famous for it, and rightly so. There are French gardens, 16th century Renaissance gardens, flowers absolutely everywhere and a large vegetable garden! The gardeners here work miracles as there is something to see in every season. Everything is beautifully trimmed and you can get a great view from the Belvedere.

The castle itself is very beautiful, a magnificent architecture, but the interior is less interesting than some others, in my opinion. However, it has a rich history, including the signing of the defeat of England by France and the return of the land to French territory. This is due in part to the fact that the castle was neglected for a time before being taken over at the beginning of the 20th century.

Villandry castle gardens loire valley

Useful information

  • Opening hours : castle closed in January and February/ gardens open all year round. VERY variable opening hours, between 9am-5pm and 9am-7pm
  • Price : 13€ (garden 8€)
  • Booking : Book your ticket here
  • Parking : 2 large free car parks just opposite
  • By train : the nearest train station is Tours
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : the hotel CHEVAL ROUGE, useful, not expensive and a two minutes from the castle

11. Loches, the royal city to discover

What a pleasant surprise! You think you’ve come to Loches to see a castle (a royal one), but you end up visiting the small medieval town that surrounds the remains of the castle. Surrounded by ramparts, the town has beautiful little streets full of charm.

The castle is made up of 2 distinct parts. The dungeon, the remains of an 11th century fortress, still very well preserved. And the lodgings, the royal residence of Anne de Bretagne, in Renaissance style. Inside, the stories are well presented with small representations, notably of Joan of Arc. Very interesting!

Loches castle loire valley

Useful information

  • Opening hours : 9.30am to 5pm (November to February), 6pm (March, April, September, October), 7pm (May to August)
  • Price : normal : 10,50€ / reduced : 8,50€ / free under condition
  • Booking : Book your ticket here
  • Parking : several small free car parks at the bottom of the citadel
  • By train : on the Tours – Châteauroux line, 50 minutes from Tours
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : BEST WESTERN is a really good option, LE GEORGES has very good value for money

12. Rivau Castle, less well known but just as good

Much less well known than its companions, the Château de Rivau is different. It is not a royal castle, its history is less glamorous than the previous ones, although Joan of Arc came there to prepare the siege of Orleans. But the Château de Rivau is a superb surprise.

First of all, it is really beautiful. A beautiful architecture halfway between the medieval fortress and the renaissance style. The interior can be visited quickly, but it also has a great deal of contemporary art. And frankly, although it’s not my cup of tea, it’s a success.

But one comes to the Rivau especially for its gardens, superbly decorated, several atmospheres, with many surprising decorations, works of art too, and several peacocks not shy that can be easily seen during the visit. You can easily stay there for a few hours, it’s very pleasant.

Finally, it is possible to sleep at the Château de Rivau, in this quite exceptional setting. Discover it here!

Rivau Castle Loire valley Peacock

Useful information

  • Opening hours : 10-19h (May-September) / 10-18h (October, November, April). Closed from mid November to March.
  • Price : 12,5€, plenty of options for children (treasure hunt…)
  • Booking : Book your ticket here
  • Parking : a large free car park just before the entrance
  • By train : no train station nearby (Tours, 1h away)
  • Recommended accommodation nearby : the fabulous RELAIS SAINT MAURICE in Chinon, 10km away

Useful information about the Loire Valley Castles

Should you book your tickets in advance

For the big castles, yes. Because there is a lot of people in any season and booking in advance allows you to :

  • be sure to enter the castle
  • save time thanks to the queue-cutting ticket

It happened to me to find myself at the door of the castle because all the tickets had been sold or to wait for ages in the queue.

As it’s the same price, and there’s a free cancellation, I now buy in advance on the internet. Not long in advance, a few days or just the day before when it’s low season. After that taking them further in advance never hurts with the free cancellation, it helps to plan everything.

I buy them either from Getyourguide or from Tiqets. Two approved resellers, at the same price, who also offer ticket packs. Like this Chambord / Chenonceau / Bois pack for 39€.

Pass Loire Valley Castles
Pass Loire Valley Castles
Pass Loire Valley Castles

What is the best season to visit the Loire Valley Castles

All seasons are good! You should know that in summer, castles are very popular and therefore very touristy, especially castles like Chambord or Chenonceau. But you can really visit them all year round if you don’t have any constraints.

For some castles that showcase their gardens, such as Villandry, you’ll have to wait for the flowering season. For example, at the beginning of May it starts to look very good.

I advise doing the bigger châteaux early in the morning, before the big groups and the crowds. It is difficult to wake up but the visit is much more pleasant.

Where to stay for in the Loire Valley

I have given you an example of a hotel for each castle, but if you want to stay in one place for several days, then I would advise you to stay between Tours and Amboise. There are a lot of good accommodations, rentals, small castles to sleep in. And above all you are close to everything.

But for example the magnificent Château de Pray in Amboise, the Château de la Bourdaisière in Montlouis sur Loire.
Why not sleep in a troglodyte house like La Loire Sauvage.
And as a super convenient and inexpensive hotel, the new Kyriad south of Tours.

Map of the Loire Valley to visit the Castles and much more

I’ve created a huuuge map of all the castles and activities in the Loire Valley. You’ll also find more information about where to stay, how to travel, some useful things.

Loire Valley map castles

How to get around the castles

Almost all the Loire castles are close to a train station. So if you want to get around without a car, it’s perfectly possible. There are 3 train lines connecting them.

Otherwise, if you stay in the centre, you have all the châteaux within an hour’s drive (Angers is further away) so the car is the easiest way to get around. You can easily go from Chambord to Amboise and then Chenonceau. The idea is not to drive too far, so it is important to select your castles each day. You can use this itinerary as a guide.

  • Read this article to discover the castles of the Loire Valley by train or bus


That’s it! I confirm that the selection was difficult. You could have put Clos Lucé, Langeais, the fortress of Chinon. This list is totally subjective but I tried to bring diversity and to give something for everyone.

But what is certain is that once you visit the Loire Castles, you will come back to discover others, smaller, more intimate, surprising ones.

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