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Reflet du Chteau de Chenonceau dans le Cher - M. Jauneaud

Stories of the Châteaux on the Loire

Following the course of the river, discover the Loire Châteaux: Renaissance homes, medieval fortresses, architectural heritage listed by UNESCO. Kings, artists and authors all had the right idea. Seduced by the Loire, a great many of them decided to settle along the banks of this river. Each of these monuments has some great stories to tell. We have selected a few visits from among the countless on offer in the Loire Valley.

Château de Sully-sur-Loire G.Motta
Château d'Azay-le-Rideau

Your excursion starts in Sully-sur-Loire. Its most famous of owners, the Duke of Sully (1560-1641), Minister to King Henri IV, "opens the doors" to his Château, a 14th-century medieval fortress. It was also here that Voltaire found refuge when he was forced to leave Paris owing to his provocative way of thinking.

Downriver, Orléans, the town of Joan of Arc, has conserved the memory of its liberator. Townhouses, ancient quarters and the Loire waterfront all make this a varied town to visit.
Continue on your way towards Chambord. Its relationship with the river has left its legacy in the form of a port, Saint-Dyé-sur-Loire, where the materials required to build the castle were unloaded. The defining masterpiece of the Renaissance, Château de Chambord, the home of François I, is also a place where wildlife abounds, including stag and wild boar.
Another Renaissance gem plunges you into history: Château de Blois. It was the favourite residence of the royals of France: Louis XII, François I and Catherine de Medici among others lived here, and it was here that the Duke of Guise was murdered.
Not far away Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire stands on the left bank of the river. On the death of Henri II, his wife Catherine de Medici bought this monument and ordered her rival Diane de Poitiers to exchange it against Chenonceau. Since 1992, the park of the Château has hosted the International Garden Festival, displaying the creations of many gardens on a different theme each year.

Stop off at Amboise and wander round the Château, which was one of the many homes of François I, as well as the home of Charles VIII. The body of Leonardo da Vinci, who lived at Clos Lucé, lies in the chapel of the Château.
At Villandry, take a look at the Renaissance gardens. Laid out on terraces, they include cabbage and box tree and marrow and flowers with, in the middle, a lake to refresh your mind. The Château was completed in 1536 by Jean Le Breton, Minister to François I, and was the last Renaissance monument to be built in the Loire Valley.
In Touraine, Azay-le-Rideau should be on your list. You will enjoy strolling around this Château which symbolises all the Renaissance charm of Italian stately homes. In summer, see it from a new angle in a night-time show entitled "Dreams and Light".
Your trip to the Loire Valley alongside the river ends with Langeais Fortress. Incontestably medieval, this building lowers its guard when you come to visit: its drawbridge is in perfect working order. You can then enter this Château where Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany celebrated their wedding.

The Loire continues to flow and the prestigious sites just keep coming. After the Loire Châteaux, you can continue your voyage with a visit to Fontevraud Abbey and the Châteaux of Saumur, Angers...

On either side of the Loire Valley - north and south - the cathedrals of Chartres and Bourges, masterpieces of gothic art, are also included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.