I arrived at the train station in Tours and was met by Thierry. His plan was to take me to visit his childhood home in Noyant and along the way, he took me for a drive of the area around the Vallee du Loir. First we stopped at the castle in Saumur.
The landscape on the route he took was beautiful and the Saumur Castle was the first I had ever seen in person! Many books that I have read came to life in my mind as we walked around the castle. The view was spectacular from it's hilltop location.
The museums were closed by the time we arrived so we could only walk around and see from the outside. Still, it was a magical gift my friend gave me.
Check with their web sit to make sure you don't misss a thing.
1hour south of Chinon is the beautiful castle of Rivau. You have to drive there (exit st maure) but it is worth it as the gardens are really beautiful !
I went there with my kids and they loved it, everything is organized for them there !
The mandarin red colours of the rooms are simply regal. All the old paintings, chandelier, the sturdy antique bed and furnishings. I wonder how many members of a royal family and illustrious personalities have consummated their - what did I say? - there.
I went to Tours to see some chateaux so I booked an excursion tour from the Tours tourist office which is few walks away from my hotel. They have a lot of chateaus combination tours which you can do either the whole morning, whole afternoon or full-day from 9am til 7pm. Cost Euro 33 for the two chateau.
I chose the afternoon tour of Chambord and Chenonceau. So there I was waiting before 1pm in front of the tourist office where the yellow van is waiting. We left on time for the hour long ride to Chateau of Chambord - a Unesco heritage site. The chateau is quite magnificent both from a distance and near. It was intended as a hunting lodge initiated by King Francis 1, but the architectural design made it as an extravagant chateau with the awesome double spiral staircase. In fact it has 77 staircases, 282 fireplaces, and 426 grandiose rooms.
The whole estate is a big as inner Paris. The various rooms are displaying an array of antique furnitures, rennaisance paintings and a lot of stuff to marvel.
at the central train station, there is a booth offer half-day or full-day castle hopping tours, it basically transports you from castle to castle, which works well for me, since i did not have a car, and visited 4 chateau in a day: Chenonceau, Amboise, Chambord, and Cheverny.
In Chateau de Tours duke de Gees was in an imprisonment in 1588-1591. The castle was constructed in the XII century by Henry II.
Aquarium Tropical and a wax museum are situated in the castle now.
This beatutiful castle is located very close to Tours.It was built in 1,526 by king Fran?ois I,also Leonardo Da Vinci helped with several plans and models for the construction of this castle.
Chambord is located in midle of a Forest-Park,wich is one of Europe's finest,so if you have the time take a nice walk around the castle.
Another beautiful castles to see at Loire Valley are:
AZAY LE RIDEAU.
and also a few more valleys and many small towns to explore:
Valle de la Loire.
Valle du Loir.
Valle du Cher.
Valle de L'Indre.
Valle de la Vienne.
Tours is the regional capital of chateaux & wineries. Well, since I planned to visit the other chateaux (& there are at least 7 of them) I skipped this one instead. This is just a photo shoot of the exterior. For remembrance.
Chateau de CHENONCEAU
The other name of the place is Chateau des Dames which reflects the rivalry between the wife of Henri II Catherine Medici and his lover Diane de Poitier. After Henri's death Catherine Medici turned out Diane from Chenonceau and later built there a Gallery across Cher river.
This Chateau is the most preserved one and thus sufferers that inavitable evil in the presence of hordes of tourists. The only chateau where I came across a group of compatriots, this means really something!
The 128 m long facade and its 440 rooms make Chambord the largest of the chateaux of the Loire. The construction began in XVI cent. by Francois I and was much inspired by Italian architecture. Francois's son Henri II continued the erection and it was Louis XIV who completed one of Chateau's sections and laid out the park. This castle is usually called 'Hunting castle' coz it's surrounded by forests where French aristochracy liked to hunt and this tradition has remained in our days.
This Chateau has stunning architecture, a lot of lace like towers of different hights and shapes are the landmark of Chambord. One can admire its view for a long time. However how it is beautiful from the outside as it is plain and less than ordinary from the inside. I got the biggest dissapointment wandering from hall to hall.
The castle dates back to XVI cent. Chateau represents the masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. Was built by the Treasurer of France Gilles Berthelot during the ruling of Francois I. However Chateau was a worthy expression of Treasurer's dazzling career and he fell under suspicion and was forced into hasty flight.
In XVIII cent. the estate was bought by Marquis de Biencourt who together with his descendants returned the castle to a splendour worthy of its past.
Chateau is in the bend of Indre river and thus runs the rick of being flooded every Spring. That's acutally what we witnessed being there. That roaring river under the bridge on the pic is just a shallow stream during other seasons.
Be ready that this Chateau will be full of tourists. It's one the MUSTs in every organised coach tour.
Villandry was built in XVI cent. by Jean le Breton, Francois the 1st Minister of France. After changing hands in the beginning of XX cent. the castle was purchased by Dr. Joachim Carvallo, great grand father of the current owner. He created French style XVI cent. gardens, which made the Chateau clearly distinctive among the others. Definitely worth visiting!
Can you imagine that majority of these magnificent flower beds are just simply groceries such as cabbage and other ordinary stuff, planted in such extrodinary way.... My Mom would've bitten her elbows seing how the beds in her country house might be arranged...
Langeais (XV cent.) was originally a medieval fortress. In the park it has the oldest stone built medieval keep in France. The castle was restored with the help of Jacques Siegfried, a businesman and art lover, who spent 20 years of his life restoring Langeais.
This museum has an outstanding tapestry collection of XV and XVI century from France and Flandery.
In one of the halls you can see the light and wax doll show of the marriage of Anne de Bretagne and King Charles VIII, which marked the start of the unification of Brittany and France.
Langeais was the most tourist free chateau. While we visited it, there were about 10 visitors in total scattered around the building. Very few keepers watched us which gave an unexpected freedom - we were able to touch almost everything and I even tested the softenss of matrasses on the beds (the usual and innocent way).... :)))
On my days cycle trip around the area I was able to see several chateaux, castles and even Leonado de Vinci's house. A great way to see the countryside and get some good exercise at the same time!
I hired the bike at Amstacycles in Tours at 85 francs for the day.
This place is like it has been created from a fairytale. The castle, moat and grounds are in impeccable condition and it would rate as one of the most impressive castles I've seen in Europe. I would love to have seen it at night with the flood lights on it. It took just under an hour and a half to reach by bike from Tours and was easy to find.