Visiting the Loire Valley : must-see places
The Loire Valley châteaux are some of the most visited tourist sites in all of France. Testaments to Renaissance architecture and influenced by famous historical figures like François I, Leonardo da Vinci and Catherine de Medici, every castle contains its own secrets and wonders. With our Loire Valley tours from Paris, discover the must-see places and castles.
Following the Loire River
The Loire Valley region was highly regarded at the beginning of the Renaissance era. Its famous river, the Loire, extends over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and crisscrosses the entire country. The Loire significantly contributed to the region’s and the nation’s economic development. The installation of water tolls helped paid for the construction of certain edifices that were built in very strategic locations.
The History of France: Time Traveling
Visiting the Loire Valley châteaux is a fantastic way to take a headfirst dive into the history of France. Tour guides help visualize how things were while bringing back to life, so to speak, those who once walked the châteaux halls. The châteaux one sees today were decorated, renovated, and enlarged by their successive owners.
The Loire Valley is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site. For several decades, the châteaux along the Loire River were the residences of many Kings who made improvements during his respective reign. The appellation “Châteaux de la Loire” designates a zone that extends from Orléans to Nantes and includes Blois and Tours.
Among the most famous royal châteaux that every tourist must absolutely see are Chambord with its double-spiral staircase; Chenonceau with its majestic bridge; Cheverny, an inspiration to Belgian cartoonist Hergé and his fictional château, Moulinsart; Amboise; Villandry with its splendid gardens and finally, Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci once lived.
These châteaux are known throughout the world, for their Renaissance architecture that preceded the splendor of Versailles and its gardens.
Architectural and Landscape Treasures
The edifices that we know today are incredible representations of gothic art. Lavishly decorated and symmetrically harmonious, the Loire Valley châteaux are straight out of the Renaissance Art school.
The châteaux were also, so to speak, the playground of era gardeners who could express their talents in a variety of ways, thus establishing the “rules” that govern French-style gardens today. With parcels of land laid out in floral motifs and parterres, or flowerbeds, in the shape of lace, some of the châteaux gardens are veritable masterpieces. Villandry, for example, holds the title of “Remarkable Garden,” a reward created in 2004 by the Ministry of Culture.
If you’re looking for a family holiday that’ll take you back in time while also entertaining and educating your children on France’s patrimonial treasures, visiting the châteaux of the Loire Valley is an excellent choice.