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Top 3 Châteaux in the Loire Valley

It's easy to feel like French aristocracy in the Loire Valley, home to over 42 stunning châteaux straight from a fairytale. Just a few hours from Paris by car, train, or bus, the Loire Valley is made for relaxation and joie de vivre. Renowned wine, locally-sourced cuisine, and French renaissance architecture awaits! We toured the valley to bring you our top 3 must-see châteaux.

1. Château de Chenonceau

The most unique and enchanting chateau in the valley is the only one built over a river, with a grand gallery that will leave you speechless.

  • It was first built in 1430, then expanded over the river by Diane de Poitiers, mistress of King Francis I.

  • After the king’s death, his widow, Catherine de Medici, took the chateau from Diane and made it her favorite residence, even holding the first firework display in France there in 1560.

  • In the 1700s as the salon of Louise Dupin, it hosted Enlightenment leaders such as Voltaire.

  • During WW2, it was used to escape the Nazi-occupied bank to the “free” zone on the opposite bank.

  • Learn more about visiting here.

2. Château de Chambord

The largest château in the valley built by King Francis I as a sprawling hunting lodge.

  • It was built over 27 years as a hunting lodge for King Francis I, but he only visited 4 times in his life.

  • The King’s first visit was to show off his new status symbol to his rival, Emperor Charles V.

  • The chateau and grounds are truly massive, featuring 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and 84 staircases, one of which is thought to have been designed by Da Vinci.

  • The chateau sat unfurnished and unoccupied unless the King visited, which means all furnishings for 440 rooms and food for 2000+ people had to be brought in before every visit. No wonder he only stayed here a handful of times!

  • Learn more about visiting here.

3. Château des Arpentis

The last château is also one that you can spend the night in for less than $200/night! Learn more here.

  • The château dates back to 1410, although it was extensively renovated in 2008 to receive visitors as a boutique hotel.

  • The moat dates back to the 17th c, as does the extensive terrace surrounding the property.

Getting there + getting around

The best way to explore the Loire Valley is by car from Paris for maximum comfort in a 1 or 2-day trip. Parking is plentiful at the châteaux and you'll have the freedom to explore many of the towns in the valley for a meal or sightseeing!


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