3 Must-See Castles of Loire Valley

November 15, 2013 by

Chateau du Clos Luce

Chateau du Clos Luce

If you’ve ever wanted to tour a castle, the Loire Valley in France offers 42 chateaux that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Loire Valley. It’s one of France’s most popular tourist destinations outside of Paris.

3 Must-See Castles of Loire Valley

All of the Loire Valley castles are beautifully maintained, and while they are all culturally significant, there’s no way most people can visit all 42. With that in mind, the following three castles provide a good place to start for those who want to steer clear of the crowds that fill the most popular castles.

Each of these castles feature an outstanding historic presentation that showcases the lives and work of those who lived there through the centuries.

Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau

Château du Clos Lucé

As castles go, the Château du Clos Lucé is small. It is located in the city of Amboise, France on three hectares. This castle is a favorite tour, not because it was owned by King Francois I’s mother at the turn of the 16 century, but because the guest house was the official residence of Leonardo da Vinci between 1516 and 1519 at the height of the Italian Renaissance.

Da Vinci stayed here for only three years before he died. However, he developed many of his most famous inventions here. A tour of the Château du Clos Lucé offers the opportunity to see some of da Vinci’s most imaginative creations.

Chateau d'Usse

Chateau d’Usse

Château de Chenonceau

The 500-year-old Château de Chenonceau is a must-see for art lovers. This emblematic castle has a rich history of attracting great artists and has a museum that houses a collection of paintings of the Old Masters’ including: Murillo, Le Tintoret, Nicolas Poussin, Le Corrège, Rubens, Le Primatice, Van Loo… as well as an extremely rare selection of Flanders Tapestries from the 16th century.

This castle’s elegant architecture itself is a work of art. 

Château d’Ussé

Château d’Ussé is privately owned castle. The family who owns it still lives there, but the ground floor, which is decorated with 16th-century wallpaper and furniture, is open to the public.

Legend has it that Charles Perrault, author of several French fairy tales, was inspired to write Sleeping Beauty when staying there.

Guests can visit the castle’s mock attic which has been set up with 16th-century scenes of Sleeping Beauty playing with her toys and being watched over by the good fairies complete with cobwebs, antique toys, and furniture. The grounds also house a vineyard and provide guests the opportunity to enjoy wine which can be purchased following the tour.

This is just three of the 42 castles available in Loire Valley, France, and each one offers a unique peek into the past.

Photo credits: gmontgomery10, bortescristian, ell brown

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