France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Châteaux of the Loire, France
There are hundreds of châteaux (castles) in France's Loire Valley. Which are best to visit? Here they are, and how to go there from Paris.




Château de Chambord, France




People come to the Loire Valley, just a few hours south of Paris, mostly to visit châteaux and enjoy Loire wines. Whether you make a day trip from Paris or enjoy an extended stay in the region, you can visit a variety of châteaux.

So if there are so many, how do you choose? Here are some of the châteaux that are both most popular and, in our opinion, most interesting. This is an alphabetical list; if you would prefer, see our list grouped by geography.


The Château d'Amboise sits high on a bluff, overlooking the Loire and the charming town of Amboise. Its ramparts offer splendid views, and its Gothic and Renaissance architecture make it a striking view as you approach the town. Its St-Hubert Chapel is thought to contain the body of Leonardo Da Vinci, who died in Amboise.


One of the most elegant of the Loire Châteaux, the Renaissance gem Azay-le-Rideau was built in the 1500s on a small island in the River Indre, the château seems to float gracefully on the water.


Less famous than some and a bit more difficult to get to, Château Beauregard is situated in a large park and is known for its Galerie des Illustres, a collection of 327 portraits of historical figures. It is not far from Chambord and Cheverny and might be combined with a visit to one of those.


The Château Royal of Blois sits high on a hill in this small city. A large château that includes Gothic, Flamboyant, Renaissance, and Classical architecture, it offers both sumptuous interiors and great views.


The largest of the Châteaux of the Loire, Chambord was built in the early 1500s by François I, though he only spent some 40 days there during his lifetime. It is famous for its double-helix staircase, designed by Leonardo da Vinci, where two spiral staircases allow people to see each other without ever meeting; and its remarkable roof terrace.


Like the nearby Château d'Amboise, Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire rises high over the Loire and dominates the town below it. Its harmonious architecture delights the eye, and a visit includes glimpses into the attic storage rooms and other works in progress. Its large garden hosts an annual International Garden Festival.


Chenonceau is one of the most iconic châteaux in the Loire Valley. With its graceful gallery that spans the River Cher, its beautiful furnishings, and its exquisite gardens, Chenonceau is a wonderful place to visit, and of course it attracts many tourists, year round.


The Château de Cheverny is known for its symmetry and its classical architecture. It is a harmonious design, and the interior includes beautiful decor. It is also known for its hounds, and the kennels are included on the visit (with a request to not excite the dogs).


Built as a fortress during the 12th century and later, Chinon occupies a strategic location, high on a hill overlooking the Vienne River. Its towers, dungeons, and other rooms remain, and it provides great views of the area.

Clos Lucé

The Château du Clos Lucé, only 400 meters from the Château d'Amboise, is famous as the final home of Leonardo da Vinci, who lived there from 1516 until his death in 1519. The château includes models of many of Leonardo's inventions, and the surrounding beautiful Parc Leonardo da Vinci is not only a lovely quiet place to walk and reflect, but it also provides working models of his inventions for kids of all ages to try.


The Château de Langeais looks like a feudal fortress, with its round towers and high walls and drawbridge. Rising over the charming town of the same name, Château de Langeais is also known as the site of the marriage of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany.


The small, privately owned Château de L'Islette is considered the younger "sibling" of Azay-le-Rideau, and easily visited when you're near Azay.


The Château d'Ussé is famed as the model for Charles Perrault's famous fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. With its white walls and many turrets, this elegant château evokes images of knights in shining armor and elegant ladies.


Villandry is known largely for its gardens, which are spectacular, large, and diverse. Changing with the seasons, the gardens and terraces are architectural and horticultural masterpieces.

Still can't decide? Check our list of Châteaux grouped by geographic area.

And whatever you decide, you can't go wrong. All of these châteaux provide memorable experiences and fabulous views and pictures. Enjoy!

Map of Châteaux

Groups of Châteaux

How to Visit Châteaux

Sound & Light Shows

About the Loire Valley

Tourist Information

Loire Valley Transport



Château de Chenonceau, France

Above, Château de Chenonceau, France.

Below, King's bedchamber, Château Royal, Blois.

View Chateaux de la Loire in a larger map

King's bedchamber, Blois, France


Château d'Amboise, France

Above, Château d'Amboise, France.

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