Someone once said that if you want to fully appreciate French style, you only need to visit two places: one in Paris and other in Loire Valley. If Paris, where multiculturalism gathers, personifies French romance and avant-garde, then Loire Valley is a symbol of French elegance and classicism. The beauty of Paris lies in its rich cultural heritage and blending and influence of different cultural styles, while beauty of Loire Valley lies in its gentle and pure French style, whether it be a castle built on river or hidden deep in gardens, humanist landscape and nature along Loire river.
Take a train from Paris to Loire Valley in central France. When we arrived at train station, we rented a car and started our tour of the Loire Valley.
The car is driving down a narrow lane
The Loire Valley is a 27,500-square-mile flat basin in central France. The Loire River is longest and most beautiful river in France, its total length is about 1020 kilometers. One of most beautiful areas is middle valley of river, with many graceful hills on both sides of river and an ancient castle hidden in greenery. Most of these castles were built during Middle Ages and Renaissance, each of which paves way in glorious history of France, and they are witnesses of French civilization. Since 2000, it has become a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site.
Château de Villandry is last famous castle built by Francis I during his reign of France in 16th century and is also a very charming Renaissance building. It was completed in 1536 and its elegant and refined appearance fully reflects architectural style of 16th century. By 18th century, castle was devastated and rebuilt many times, and only in 1906, Spanish physiologist Josim Cavallo bought castle and finally restored its beautiful original appearance, reproducing architectural style of Renaissance.
The gardens at Chateau de Villandry are divided into four parts: an ornamental garden, a water garden, Jane's garden and a kitchen garden. Artificial waterfalls, pools, Romanesque chapels and most beautiful gardens in France make Villandry one of most famous castles in Loire Valley.
Decorative garden. The garden is neat and uniform, so beautiful that people linger and forget to come back.
Lunch at castle
Château de Chenonceau - consisting of a main fortress, a promenade, a platform and a round tower, located in succession, across river Holme, a tributary of Loire River, is most romantic among castles of Loire Valley. Romantic water castle. On bank of river there are two large gardens, like two beautifully patterned carpets. Chenonceau Castle is also called "Ladies' Castle" because many queens, concubines and noble ladies lived here, so there are many beautiful and long stories, but it's a pity that past was hidden deep in water. The waves are gone. ..
Boulevard leading to castle
Château d'Amboise is one of most famous castles built for French kings in Loire Valley during Renaissance (15th-16th centuries). The castle is built on a hillside and indulgently stands on banks of Loire River. The graceful and luxurious architectural style witnessed a grand event and flourishing of court culture of Loire dynasty. At that time, many prominent Italian artists immigrated to France during Loire dynasty. Among them, Leonardo da Vinci, who spent last three years of his life here with King Francis I of France. Da Vinci's gravestone is now in castle's chapel.
Above château, you have best view of entire Loire Valley, and solid castles represent most beautiful scenery along Loire River.
This small church houses Da Vinci's headstone
City of Ambois
The castle hotel Château de Pray, where we stayed, is picturesque and romantic in every corner.
The intoxicating beauty of the castle at dusk
Night at castle
Enjoy a romantic dinner at Michelin-starred restaurant in castle
A trip to Loire Valley is also a pleasure of taste. As a famous wine region in France, you cannot miss wine here. At winery, sample local wine collection and listen to wine stories told by a sommelier.
We visited three wineries for wine tasting
History settled in Loire Valley, perhaps lingering in beautiful scenery of Loire River, many French kings decided to build their palaces here. Along Loire river and its tributaries, magnificent castles, famous monasteries and beautiful gardens combine to form most beautiful scenery of Loire. The towns and villages along river are also part of world's cultural heritage, where legends and tales of Loire Valley are passed down from generation to generation.