Self-guided tour of Loire Valley, become Sleeping Beauty in a castle in a French backyard garden.


The Loire River is longest river in France. The Loire Valley is rich not only in wine, but also in famous castles of Loire Valley, known as “Back Garden of France”. Most of these castles were built by French royalty and nobles during Middle Ages and Renaissance, carrying a heavy history, whether it is a castle built on a river or a garden labyrinth tucked away in a forest, cultural scenery and nature in Loup blends beautifully along banks of river Va. To visit area, self-drive is best option. You can use "Ctrip Car Rental" to rent a car in Paris and pick up car in south.

Chambord: king of castles of Loire Valley

Chateau de Chambord is most prestigious of all castles of Loire and one of architectural examples of French Renaissance. It is often liked to be called, and women's castle of Chenonceau is a French castle. One king and one queen. This magnificent castle was built by François I in 1519. The castle's over 300 chimneys are like a shining crown crown.

The most famous in castle is double spiral staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci, which can be called a masterpiece in history of architecture. Two people standing on a flight of stairs can see each other through doors and windows of inner core, but never meet. The goal is to avoid embarrassment of meeting Queen François and his lovers while going up and down stairs. It's a very fairy tale castle!

Chateau de Chenonceau: most beautiful "castle of women"

Chateau de Chenonceau is located in small town of Chenonceaux, 34 kilometers east of Tours. This is only existing castle building with a bridge in world. Since it was built by Mrs. Catherine Brisson in 1513, it has gone through gradual improvement of several well-known hostesses, which is why it is also called "Women's Castle".

In addition to main castle, its embankment over river is most striking. The left and right wings of castle span banks of Cher River, a tributary of Loire River. also known as "a boat moored on river Cher". The gardens on both sides blend in perfectly with buildings of castle, and in spring and summer they are full of flowers of various colors.

Chaverny Castle: prototype of Tintin's adventures

A 20-minute drive from Chambord, Château de Cheverny is most luxuriously decorated and furnished castle in Loire region, recreating luxurious court life of 16th century. At same time, building is also prototype for The Adventures of Tintin, and castle houses exhibition The Adventures of Tintin.

Now Marquis and his family live in castle, you can really experience real life of castle. In castle you can see magnificent court costumes, huge family portraits, retro-classical pianos, a full set of polished kitchen utensils and a children's room full of toys. The owner of castle also brings dozens of his hounds to area every year.

Château de Amboise: Da Vinci's last steps

The Chateau Royal d'Amboise is located on a rocky cliff with stunning views of Loire. The buildings, built in 15th century, are a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance. There are gardens with Mediterranean plants and two huge knight's towers. It was castle of Amboise that first brought Italian architectural art to banks of Loire.

Da Vinci was invited by Francis I, an admirer of Italian Renaissance, to create and spend last three years of his life here. In chapel of castle of Amboise, you can also see a simple tombstone of Leonardo da Vinci.

The invited da Vinci was 64 years old at time and lived on estate of Francis I (Le Clos Luce) near castle, spending his time painting, needlework and model making.

Royal Castle of Blois: watch feast of sound and light

The Royal Castle of Blois (Chateau Royal de Blois) was built successively by Louis XII, Francis I and Duke of Caston d'Orleans. Flanks: a combination of Gothic elements, Gothic flames, elements of early Renaissance and classicism.

The sound and light show (Son et Lumière) is especially not to be missed here from April to September. When night falls, through a combination of light and sound, show tells story of love and intrigue around castle, most exciting of which is story of Francis I and his wife, Queen Catherine de Medici. In addition, high tower of castle offers a panoramic view of old town of Blois with black tiles and red bricks.

Ouse Castle: prototype from Sleeping Beauty

Château de Usset on banks of Loire is located on outskirts of small coastal village of Rigny-Ussay. Known for fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty", writer Charles Perrault drew inspiration for story of this castle. The milky-white towers of castle seem to grow out of dense forest of Chinon behind it.

The castle, built in 15th and 16th centuries, also has beautiful gardens designed by Le Notre, architect of Palace of Versailles. The castle also houses a series of wax figures that tell story of Sleeping Beauty.

Château de Villandry: most beautiful garden in France

The Château de Vilandry is famous for its landscaped walled gardens. The 6 hectare garden has a reputation as "one of most beautiful gardens in France". Included in list of world cultural heritage. The garden is full of manicured limes, vines and fountains. In addition, main building of castle is also a great choice for a Range Rover ride.

The garden has paved paths for visitors to visit, and it is recommended to visit Ornamental Garden (Jardin d'Ornement), where emotions such as passion, tenderness and sadness of love are portrayed through changing colors and shapes of hedges and flower beds. There is also a vegetable garden (Potager) dating back to 16th century. Vegetables in vegetable garden turn different colors depending on season.

Château de Azay-le-Rideau: diamond of island

Azey-le-Rideau castle, surrounded by a moat, was built in 16th century and is one of most beautiful castles of Loire Valley. The White Castle is located on a natural island on river Indre, which Balzac called "a multi-faceted diamond set in river Indre".

Noteworthy is interior of castle with an open Italian-style gallery staircase that opens onto central courtyard. In addition, a sound and light show (Son et lumiere) is held on night from July to August, which is one of most spectacular performances in region.