Fairy Tale Castles in the Loire Valley, France

Everyone loves a good fairy tale. They make you want to believe in the unbelievable, dream of your Prince (or Princess) Charming and get lost in stories so magical that the real world seems boring in comparison. In any good fairy tale there is usually a castle or two, and the Loire Valley in central France is a great place to lose yourself in your own story.

Château d’Amboise

The charming French town of Amboise is home to the Château d’Amboise, built high above the houses and overlooking the Loire River. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has a wonderfully landscaped garden and you can visit the beautiful chapel of Saint-Hubert where Leonardo da Vinci is buried. Tickets cost 10.90€ (£7.95).

Amboise

Amboise

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau

In the town of Azay le Rideau is the picturesque Château d’Azay-le-Rideau. It’s built on an island in the middle of the Indre River and is completely surrounded by water that is still enough to create a perfect reflection. It’s one of the most beautiful and famous of all the châteaux in the Loire Valley. Tickets cost 6.5€ (£4.75).

Azay le Rideau

Azay le Rideau

Château de Chenonceau

Near the small town of Chenonceau is the ultimate fairy tale castle, the Château de Chenonceau. The grounds and gardens are fabulous and the château spans the full width of the River Cher. You can rent row boats to view it from the river, passing under the huge arches to see both sides. Inside has been perfectly restored, the rooms are big, bright and wonderfully decorated. Tickets cost 12.50€ (£9.15).

Chenonceau

Chenonceau

Château de Chinon

Along the Vienne River lies the town of Chinon, famous for the wine that is produced there and the Château de Chinon sitting high above the streets. Tickets cost 8.50€ (£6.20). It’s also worth taking a tour of one of the wine cellars here, with wine tasting included in the price!

Chinon

Chinon

Château de Langeais

Right in the heart of the town of Langeais sits the dramatic Château de Langeais. This medieval castle was rebuilt as a château in the 15th century and the ruined stone keep still stands in the gardens. The interior has been restored to perfection and there are a number of exhibitions throughout the château and grounds. Tickets cost 9€ (£6.60).

Langeais

Langeais

Château du Lude

The Château du Lude is the heart of the town of Le Lude and has been inhabited by the same family for the last 260 years. The gardens are magnificent, you can spend hours walking along the river and exploring the grounds and there is an incredible library inside. Tickets cost 5.50€ (£4) for just the garden, or 8.50€ (£6.20) for the château as well.

Le Lude

Le Lude

Château du Plessis-Bourré

Yet another stunning château situated on an island in the middle of a lake, Château du Plessis-Bourré hasn’t been modified externally since it was built and still has a fully functional draw bridge. The high walls and turrets surround a huge courtyard and it has been well restored inside. Tickets cost 10€ (£7.35) with a guided tour.

Plessis Bourre

Plessis Bourre

Château de Saumur

Located between the Loire and Thouet rivers is the town of Saumur, surrounded by vineyards and the skyline is dominated by the Château de Saumur. It’s a short walk up the hill to the château, with a great view from the top. There are a few activities and exhibitions throughout and an open-air theater in use in July and August. Tickets cost 6€ (£4.40).

Saumur

Saumur

Château d’Ussé

If you want to visit a real life fairy tale castle then look no further than the incredible Château d’Ussé in the town of Rigny-Ussé. It is the castle that Charles Perrault had in mind when he wrote “Sleeping Beauty”, which is one of the worlds most famous fairy tales. In the towers are scenes from the story, along with exhibitions throughout and a beautiful garden and chapel. Tickets cost 14€ (£10.30).

Usse

Usse

Even if you have time to visit all of these wonderful places there are still more to explore, such as the majestic Château de Chambord, the largest and most famous of them all the due to it’s distinctive French Renaissance architecture, or the Château du Clos Lucé, less impressive but it was home to Leonardo da Vinci for three years before he died, and you can see prototypes of his most imaginative creations.

We rented an adorable cottage and drove to a different château every day. You can stop off in any little French town to pick up your daily bread, meat and cheese from the markets and drink enough wine to last a lifetime. It’s all so magical.

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