There are many fantastic chateaux in the region and each has a unique story to tell so picking the best is difficult. However, here is our selection of the best places to visit, stay and eat in the Loire Valley. Click on the links or pictures below for more info or go to the Home page for a complete contents guide
French Renaissance Chateaux
Chateau de Chenonceau with its formal gardens and dramatic position built across a river. Chateau de Chaumont with its hill top setting, fairy tale towers and gardens. Chateau de Chambord with an imposing chateau, ornate towers and modern formal gardens. Chateau de Cheverny with its elegant palace, extensive gardens and Orangery.
Many of the earlier chateau have extensive fortifications and moat systems which provided additional security. These include Chateau du Moulin, Chateau du Plessis-Bourre, Chateau de Fougères sur Bièvre and Chateau de Chemery. Inside these, you will find furniture and fittings that have often remain untouched from the Middle Ages, and present a real contrast to the Renaissance period.
D’Azay-le-Rideau and L’Islette are a pair of Renaissance chateaux set on the Indre river and built from white tuffeau (limestone) stone. Chateau de L’Islette is privately managed by the current owner occupiers while the larger Chateau D’Azay-le-Rideau is now managed by the Centre des Monuments National. The Chateau du Rivau is also a spectacular white castle which looks like the setting for a romantic novel.
Where to stay
There are many ways to visit the Loire region but staying in one of the many converted chateaux is possibly the best way to fully experience the atmosphere of the region. Highly recommended chateau offering accommodation include Chateau de Marcy, Chateau de Rochecotte, Château d’Artigny and Château Hôtel Tours which are 4/5 star hotels based in converted chateaux to the west and south of Tours. The Chateau des Essards is also an excellent B&B right in the heart of the Loire region. To the east of Tours the Relais de Trois Châteaux, Château des Arpentis and Château des Grotteaux provides a good base to visit Chambord, Cheverny and Chenonceau amongst many. To the north of the region, Château des Briottières, Chateau de Vauloge and La Ballue provide an excellent B&B experience.
Where to eat
The region has a good selection of restaurants and eating options range from casual to fine dining. However, outside of the major towns demand outstrips supply and it is definitely worth planning your dinning locations and booking ahead. Many of the major chateaux offer both high end and casual dining options during the day either on site or in the immediate area. Always check opening times and book for the fine dining options. All of the hotels covered by this guide provide excellent dinner options but if you stay in B&B accommodation plan ahead, particularly on Sunday nights when many restaurants are closed.
In Langeais west of Tours, Au Coin Des Halles is an excellent restaurant. There is also the Pizza Shop for casual dining. Further to the south, Azay-le-rideau has many restaurants. The compact but well located Relais de Trois Châteaux in Cour-Cheverny, east of Tours, offers good dining and just down the road in Cheverny there is the more casual Le Pinocchio, an Italian restaurant with a pleasant outdoor dining area.