I simply cannot cover a topic about Loire and not talk about châteaux. Because to be honest, why else would one travel to this valley?
Loire and châteaux go together like tea and scones. You can't have one without the other.
I love Loire. I truly do.
But then again, I find myself more at home in the country than the bustling life of the city. I love quiet villages and quaint boulangeries, where somehow, through my very little french and a kind shop owners broken english, we can communicate well enough to complete a transaction of deux baguette, deux croissant et un pain au chocolate. Merci, au revoir!
This idyllic valley set the scene of long ago fairytales. Where one can find winding rivers brimming with life, fern lined woods, lush golden hills and over 300 châteaux. Though of course Loire is not the only place to see a château, this area is the most concentrated in all of France. It's seeping with so much history, inspiring architecture, beauty and romance.
With so much to see, one can easily be overwhelmed when planning an itinerary and choosing what châteaux to visit. I rounded up the top 3 Must Visit Châteaux in Loire. Each château will have their own dedicated post, at the end of this entry will be the link to the other 2 châteaux.
CHATEAU DE VILLANDRY
Photographs are of the many Parterre Gardens in Villandry
If there is a château I can visit over and over (and over) again, Villandry would be it. Inspiration abounds and is woven throughout this 16th century Castle. Perfectly manicured parterre gardens and impeccably shaped topiaries plucks at my heart strings like no other. I can get lost there and would be happy to daydream endlessly. If there is the chateau to visit in Loire, this would be it.
Left: Photographed is the view of Villandry's
Paterre Garden through a castle window.
Château de Villandry would at the very least, take a half day for a proper tour of the Château and gardens. At the time we went, reservations were not required, however be sure to visit their website to make sure this is still the case. Parking was convenient and easy to access. I recommend starting your visit at the castle before proceeding to the gardens, in that way you can spend as much time in the gardens and not rush through it. Also, it's really lovely to catch glimpses of the garden views through the castle. Seeing their parterre gardens through ancient castle windows is special!
Photographs are of the interiors scenes of Villandry with many beautiful textiles and patterns.
An added tip, packing a picnic is a perfect way to enjoy the gardens. We often went to boulangeries (bakery) to pick up sandwiches before touring a chateau. The sandwiches are typically inexpensive, about 3 - 5 euros! I find every excuse to extend our time in the garden and this is a perfect reason to do so.
Photographs are of gardens of Villandry.