France's Loire Valley

Visit 12 of the Best Castles in the Loire Valley

by and - last updated on 5/13/2024

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Why Visit the Loire Valley in France?

The Loire River, spanning over 1,000 kilometers, graces more than a fifth of France's total land area, earning its distinction as the longest river in the country. Along its banks, lush vineyards, charming towns, and over 300 unforgettable châteaux and fortresses await exploration in the 175-mile stretch known as the Loire Valley.

Where is the Loire Valley in France?

Geographically located in central France, the Loire Valley primarily follows the course of the Loire River. Situated about 200 to 250 kilometers southwest of Paris.

Our Experience Visiting the Loire Valley

During our seven-day visit, we had the privilege of exploring twelve magnificent châteaux that grace this region. From the grandeur of Château Chambord to the elegance of Château Chenonceau, each possesses its own unique charm and history. Our journey led us through opulent interiors, meticulously maintained gardens, and medieval architectural treasures. Exploring the region over seven leisurely days, we opted for base camps in Angers, Chinon, and Amboise, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the area's wonders.

Our Loire Valley Videos 

Youtube Video Link

In this video, we'll share insights into the geography of the Loire Valley, the best ways to get there, and top tips for navigating this stunning region including how to pick where to stay and the rules of the road; a detailed review of road signs, toll booth navigation, and parking information. Get ready to plan your dream trip!

Youtube Video Link

Join us on a journey through the heart of France as we explore twelve of the most magnificent castles in the historic Loire Valley. Our video provides an in-depth look at each castle and offers logistical information, including an itinerary with logical base camps for exploring the region to help make your own trip a success.

If you enjoy our videos click here to subscribe to our Youtube Channel. Please also note that these videos are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.

Planning Your Visit to the Loire Valley 

This one-week Loire Valley itinerary, based on our travels, includes essential information on exploring the region's highlights. From suggesting ideal base camp cities for visiting châteaux to providing detailed insights into individual castles, parking options, dining recommendations, and more, we aim to simplify your planning process and enhance your experience.

We split out our information by base camp, we explored the Loire Valley from west to east and choose three base camps. Each blog page provides specific information about the base camp city and the châteaux we visited from that base camp. For each city, we provide overview information, some history, logistical information about visiting each château, and additional information about things to do and see, along with links to help you in your planning.

In the sections below, you will find a map of the region, including base camps and châteaux to visit. Remember, there are over 300 châteaux in the region, and we've selected some of the most popular as well as some smaller gems. While we provide a curated list as a starting point, it's worth researching additional châteaux before your visit to tailor your itinerary to your interests.

Travel Tips for Exploring the Loire Valley

  • Consider limiting the number of châteaux visited in a day to fully appreciate each site.
  • Strategically select base camps according to the châteaux you wish to explore to minimize daily driving distances.
  • Explore both small and large châteaux to fully immerse yourself in the history and diversity of the region.

Explore the Loire Valley's wonders at your own pace, savoring every moment of your journey.

Loire Valley Castles Map & Itinerary 

Click the map image to view a larger Google Map

Our Loire Valley Route Flow Map (above image) highlights our journey from Angers to Chinon and then to Amboise, with each castle pinpointed. Follow our Loire Valley Itinerary to create your unforgettable Loire Valley adventure.

Angers, France - Base Camp # 1   Map

Angers was our stop # 1 on our Loire Valley adventure, primarily because it was to be our first "Base Camp", and secondly because our hotel was only a few blocks from Château d'Angers, which allowed us to park the car and hike over to the fortress. The less than perfect issue that arose, was that it was Sunday when we visited the fortress, which meant that a lot of stores & restaurants were not open. It was probably to our advantage that we hiked from our hotel to the fortress, as parking was very limited and there were no empty spaces.

From Angers, our plans were to visit Château de Brissac, Château de Brézé and château D’Angers.

Chinon, France - Base Camp # 2   Map

We had selected the village of Chinon as our second "base camp" for exploring various nearby châteaux, our concept was that we could easily drive to any location within a 100 kilometer perimeter around Chinon, which gave us a number of places we wanted to explore. The drive from Angers to Chinon was not quite 100 kilometers (via the A-85). Chinon is on the south side of the Loire River, so we exited the A-85 onto the D-749.

From our Chinon base-camp, our plans were to visit Château de Chinon, Château d'Ussé, Château de Villandry and Château d'Azay-le-Rideau.

Amboise, France - Base Camp # 3   Map

Above image is the property of Vladimir Shelyapin via Wikimedia Commons using the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication license

Amboise is adjacent to the widest stretch of the Loire River and it was a pleasant place to visit with a nice old town directly below the hilltop château. To add even more interest, Leonardo da Vinci retired and owned a home here (Château du Clos Lucé).

From our Amboise basecamp, our plans were to visit Château de Chenonceau, Château de Chambord, Château de Cheverny, Chaumont-Sur-Loire and château Royal d'Amboise.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Loire Valley 

  • What is the best time to visit the Loire Valley? The best times are in the late spring and early summer and the early fall for the best weather. Summer is also excellent but more crowded at the more popular châteaux.
  • How many days should I spend in the Loire Valley? It depends on your goals and the number of châteaux you want to visit. Some people want to just take a day or two to see the most popular châteaux but with so many châteaux in the area five to seven days is ideal.
  • What are the best châteaux in the Loire Valley? This is subjective as it certainly depends on your tastes and likes and dislikes. For example, if you love gardens, Château Villandry should be on your list. If you like to see military type fortresses then Château de Chinon should be on your list. If you want to see the largest châteaux, Château Fontainebleau and Château Chambord are a must see. Château Chenonceau has a very unique location spanning the Cher River. There are about 300 châteaux in the Loire Valley and they are all unique. Picking the best is almost impossible.
  • Why are there so many castles in the Loire Valley? The Loire Valley's abundance of castles stems from its strategic location as a boundary between northern and southern France, the region's importance as a center of political power and cultural exchange, and its role as a favored retreat for French royalty during periods of unrest. The Renaissance period saw a flourishing of arts and architecture, resulting in the construction of many grand châteaux that symbolize wealth, power, and artistic achievement.
  • Just Traveling Thru European Travel Tips
  • Just Traveling Thru Travel Planning Tips
  • All of our Loire Valley Images
  • Visit our Youtube Channel
  • 15 Best Things to Do in Centre-Val de Loire on 'The Crazy Tourist' Site
  • Google Maps Search Results list for "accommodations in the Loire Valley"
  • Loire Valley Day Trip from Paris from the "Get Your Guide" site
  • Loire Valley Wineries on a Google Maps page
  • Wikipedia Article about the Loire Valley
  • Google Images set for the Loire Valley

The first column below ("All Trip Destinations") lists all of our major trip destinations (for this trip) and the next four columns list each of our trip "basecamps" and then a list of what we explored from that basecamp. Each destination name is linked to it's page - so all you need to do is click that name.

 

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Note: All images on this page are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC unless otherwise noted.

Note: If you are interested, click here to view our European Travel Tips & Warnings. Or to take a look at our methods for planning, click here to view our Trip Planning Page..

 
 

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