THE BEST OF THE LOIRE
The following videos give you an introduction to 24 chateau in 4 minutes and Chateau de Chambord and Chateau de Chenonceau which are the two most popular by visitor numbers. Here is our selection of the best places to visit, stay and eat in the Loire Valley or visit the Home page for a complete contents guide which includes interactive maps of the region and recommended boutique accommodation.
CHATEAU DE CHAMBORD
The Château de Chambord is one of the most widely recognised of the Loire Chateau with its distinctive French Renaissance architecture which, in the 16th century, blended French medieval design with classical Renaissance structures. The chateau which was constructed by King Francis 1 of France as a hunting lodge is surrounded by 13,000 acres of wooded park which is a game reserve. The chateau is most noted for its extraordinary roofscape and open double-spiral staircase.
CHATEAU DE CHENONCEAU
The spectacular Château de Chenonceau is an architectural mixture of late Gothic and early Renaissance elements and, with the integral bridge over the river Cher, is one of the defining Chateau of the region. Built on the site of an old mill and surrounded by formal Renaissance gardens it is a spectacular sight and a must visit location. The first château was a medieval fortress dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, of which only the dungeon remains, the Tour des Marques. The château in its current form was built between 1513 and 1576 in three stages, by Thomas Bohier and above all his wife, Catherine Briçonnet. An architectural mix between late Gothic and early Renaissance, it is the second most visited chateau in France after Versailles.