After our gorgeous trip to Sicily at the beginning of august, at the end of august we went to the Loire castles in France. As told before, it was a summer of bucket lists. I'm very grateful for that and this trip was once again, on my list!
So, some of you might know this from my insta-feed, but I'm a real castle hunter. I love visiting castles! It always makes me dream about how people used to lived there... so in this blog, you'll learn more about the castles I've visited and basically my travel itinerary. I visited the area in a long weekend; we drove awam from home on thursday after work and we headed home again on tuesday.
So about the Loire. The Loire is a region a couple hours south east from Paris. From Antwerp Belgium, it's great for a long weekend, since it's only about 6 hours to drive. There are many cities to stay in the region but we went for Blois. Blois is pretty centrally located and so perfect to explore the area. The city itself has a couple of hotels and restaurants and the center is tranquil but cute.
The Loire is a river in central France, famous for all the castles around it. There are a LOT of them. Most castles aren't even open for visiting, since they're still from French families. Imagine living in a castle, what a dream that would be. First, let's start with a list of all the castles that I visited, that are (according to my research) the most important ones to see.
1) Chateau de Azay-le-Rideau
2) Chateau de Villandry
3) Chateau d'Ussé
4) Chateau Royal d'Amboise
5) Chateau de Clos Lucé
6) Chateau Royal de Blois
7) Chateau de Cheverny
8) Chateau de Chambord
9) Chateau de Chaumont-sur-Loire
10) Chateau de Chenonceau
Day 1: On friday we started with already 3 castles! We first went to chateau de Azay-le-Rideau, then we went to Chateau de Villandry and after that to chateau d'Ussé.
So about Azay-le-Rideau. I don't really have a personal fave from all the castles, since they're all so different. I thought my fave was going to be the biggest one (Chambord), but since it's currently under construction AND a lot of the furnitures are copies, it was kind of a bummer. This one (Azay-le-Rideau) is still perfectly in tact and is still furnitured with a lot of the old furniture. I think that's pretty cool. It was also not expensive to visit. It's 11,5 euros. I think we needed about one hour to visit the castle and another hour to visit the castle garden, the flower garden and the town itself. It's an adorable town to visit as well actually so make sure to check it out.
From Azay-le-Rideau, it's only 15 minutes by car to get to Villandry, so that's why we combined both.
The chateau de Villandry is famous for it's amazing gardens. Well, it did not disappoint! What they did with a vegetable garden, is really crazy. We started our tour with visiting the castle. This castle is a mix of old and new furniture, since it's still owned by a family. We needed about an hour and a half to visit the castle and then went to the gardens. Since my mom couldn't walk too well that time due to an injury, we only visited the vegetable garden and the flower garden, we didn't take a hike in the forest... but you can if you want! For the gardens, we needed about 45 minutes to visit them.
The castle is 12 euros for adults, so once again, not expensive at all, knowing what you get for that money!
From Azay-le-Rideau to Ussé, it's also about 15 minutes by car. From Villandry to Ussé is about half an hour.
After a very late and quick lunch near the chateau de Villandry, we visited chateau d' Ussé, better known as Sleeping beauty's castle. There's a lovely but small garden to visit and then the large castle. From the castle you get a lovely view over the area. We were there in the late summer and there was still a sunflower field near the castle. It's alway been a dream of mine to see such a field from nearby, so it was awesome to finally be able to do so.
The castle had an exhibition about vintage clothes, which I really loved... and around the castle, you can experience Sleeping beauty's story. This is fun for kids!
Tickets are 14 euros.
Day 2: On saturday we visited again three castles: we started with chateau Royal d'Amboise and after that we went to chateau de Clos Lucé, better known as the house of Da Vinci in France. We ended our day with the chateau Royal de Blois.
Chateau Royal d' Amboise is a castle high above the town of Amboise with a lovely view over the town and the area. We parked the car near the city center to explore the castle and the garden and then we went to the Clos Lucé castle by car. This was only about 3 km away from each other. There's a parking lot right next to the castle so that's why we switched our car parkings.... Tickets are 13,50 euros.
The Clos Lucé is a small castle, more like a big villa with a massive garden around it. Inside the museum you can learn more about Da Vinci's life as well as his life in France. He worked for the French King as a painter and architect. You can also learn more about all his inventions.
A small insiders info about Da Vinci: he is not only the smartest man ever on this planet because his IQ was very high but he also had many talents.... AND he probably had ADHD since people of his time wrote that he was always super busy, loud and hectic. He also created a lot of inventions but actually left a couple ones unfinised. He also made a lot of paintings at the same time... that he also didn't finish (or even lost!).
The castle visit is 18 euros.
After both castles, we went back to Blois. We stayed at the Mercure Hotel there and the centre of Blois wasn't far away from our hotel. We parked the car in the city center and went to the castle by foot.
The Blois castle is a castle made of a mixture of a lot of styles. Every owner of the castle wanted to give the castle their own touch.... It's renovated completely in 1840 and to me it seemed even a bit fake.... like renovated a bit too much. On the other hand, in the 1800s they really wanted to give the castle back it's original look, to give the visitors the right impression about what the castle would've looked like back in the days and if that was their purpose, they really succeeded.
The castle is 13 euros.
Day 3: The next day, on sunday, we went to chateau de Cheverny and then we ended our day at the chateau de Chambord.
The Cheverny castle has a park around it but I din't like it too much. I prefered the interior of the castle itself. The interior is gorgeous. When entering the castle, you really instantly feel like a princess!
The garden is the most beautiful in the spring with a lot of tulips, in the summer with flowers or in the autumn with pumpkins and even 3,000 chrysanthemums!
Unfortunately, we were there exactly in between seasons so we didn't get to enjoy the gardens much.
Tickets are 13.50 euros.
After Cheverny, it was a 25 minutes drive to Chambord. Chambord is the most famous castle because it's so extremely large and beautiful. Unfortunately, they're currently renovating the chimneys, which makes the casle look like a big construction site.... Normally next year, it'll be finised so I guess I need to go back!
After visiting the inside of the castle, we took a trip with a golf cart. You can rent this to go around the castle and enjoy it from every angle. It was very much fun to do this! The price to rent this cart is 28 euros for 45 minutes.
The visit of the castle and gardens is €14.50. Next to the castle there are a couple of restaurants where you can have lunch, which we did. A very late lunch haha!
Day 4: On monday we visited the Chaumont sur Loire castle and then we went to my personal fave which is the castle of Chenonceau.
Chamont sur Loire is a castle that really looks like how a kid would draw a castle. I didn't know that this one would be so pretty. Around the castle there's a park and a flower garden. In the garden, each year there's a garden expo. We took the combi ticket to visit the castle as well as the gardens. It was lovely! The combi ticket was 19 euros.
From this castle, we went to Chenonceau, which was only about 30 minutes by car. All the castles are actually not too far away from each other, that's why a lot of tourists take this trip by bike.
The Chenonceau castle is amazing. It became my fave one actually. There's a big park around the castle, a farm and a small animal park. Next to the castle you have two major flower gardens with fountains. The castle is actually a bridge over a river. The location is idyllic. When we were there in the high season, the castle was super crowded so to visit the rooms of the castle, we had to choose a time lock. The castle and gardens were 15 euros.
Day 5 : The last day, we wanted to skip the parisian traffic so we took a hotel close to Giverny, on the west side of Paris because on the East side of Paris, there can be some traffic. We then visited the Monet house as a perfect pitstop. I've always wanted to visit it but it's a bit too far away from everything as a daytrip.
The house is still decorated with the actul family's furniture. The gardens have to parts. The flower garden and on the other side the famous lily pond. Both were stunning. I really understand why Monet was always so inspired by his own garden. I took SO many flower photos! It was the perfect ending of this lovely trip.
So, would you take this trip too?