2 Days Itinerary Guide to the Castles of the Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is one of the most famous sites of France. Located just 2 h drive from Paris, the area is home to awe-inspiring castles built from the 10th century, time of the crusaders, until the 16th century ruled by the French kings. This region is not only full of interesting history, but also filled with extremely beautiful towns and kind people. Visiting real castles, once inhabited by queens and kings, can make one feel like in a real-life fairytale. With help of this guide, you will embark on a journey back in time around the most beautiful castles of the Loire Valley.
Château de Chaumont
Loire Valley is located 2h drive from Paris and best explored by car. Depart early. You will dodge the traffic and arrive at the first stop just around the opening time at 10 AM. The first stop on your itinerary is Château de Chaumont. This castle was built in the 10th century, but has been reconstructed many times since. Allow at least 2h to visit the site. Don’t forget to see the contemporary art exhibitions is the stables and wander around the beautiful gardens.
↬ TIP : Each year from late Spring to early Autumn Chateau de Chaumont holds the International Garden Festival. It’s a thrill for fans of contemporary garden and landscape design worldwide.
Next on your route of Loire Valley castles is the beautiful Château Royal d’Amboise, proudly towering over Amboise town. The beauty of this castle is recognised worldwide as its design was perfected by no other, but the master Leonardo da Vinci himself. The genius spent the last 3 years of his life in the Chateau Royal. His tomb lies in a chapel just next to the castle. Even if smaller in size, this castle offers impressive views and is surrounded by spectacular gardens.
↬ TIP : Amboise is a great place to stop for lunch. We recommend grabbing a sandwich in a local boulangerie for those traveling on a budget.
Château de Villandry
Your last stop today will be the Château de Villandry and its spectacular gardens. This is one of the most popular castles in the Loire Valley for one reason. Wandering the jardins of this chateau is a dream come true. Make sure to climb the small hill behind the castle (there is a ramp leading up) for a bird eye view of those stunning gardens.
BEST TIP EVER
The last entry to the castle and gardens is at 5.30 PM. The castle closes at 6PM. However, the gardens DO NOT have a closing time (even if it says 7PM on the website). You can stay wandering the grounds for as long as you want. Specially during the summer months we highly recommend you to stay for sunset to see the beauty of this place at the golden hour.
For the night you can return to Tours, a city just 20 min drive away, or look for accommodation nearby. We actually decided to do this trip on a budget and slept in our car in a beautiful location by a river, just 5 min away from the castle.
Château de Chenonceau
After morning coffee and breakfast head to Château de Chenonceau, a beautiful castle located above Le Cher river.
↬ Note : Château de Chenonceau is open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. (due to covid-19)
Except of visiting the castle, you can enjoy a fun morning by kayaking, canoeing or driving a motor boat on the river under the castles arches. It’s an amazing activity for a whole family. We highly recommend the small business Kayak Family located just few hundred meters from the castle. We came across it by a chance and the owner greeted us very nicely. The kayak costs 15 EUR per person and has no time limit (as Philippe told us, you have to return the kayak maximum by October, as it’s a seasonal business 😉).
Château de Cheverny
After a fun morning, get back in your car for a 40 min drive to the Château de Cheverny. This castle has been in the hands of the same family for over 400 years. The interior is very impressive. We loved walking around the old chambers and admiring the clothing and decorations form past centuries. There is also a big open space and small pond where you can rent a boat. We found this part less interesting than the castle and garden.
↬ TIP : Stop for lunch at Les Greniers de Vineuil. It’s a small restaurant and art gallery just outside of Blois. The galette we ate there was the absolute best we ever had.
Château de Chambord
For the last stop on your road trip in the Loire Valley castles, you will drive to the most spectacular location. Château de Chambord is the biggest and the most impressive out of all the chateaux we visited. Thanks to its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture Château de Chambord is recognised as one of the most beautiful in the world.
↬ TIP : The castle and jardins are open until 6 PM only, but the surrounding grounds can be visited any time of the day. We recommend you to prepare a picnic and enjoy the sunset in this magnifique location.
You can spend the night at the stunning hotel Relais de Chambord located right in front of the castle. The sunrise light is specially beautiful and we should not miss it for the world.
Getting to Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is located in the centre of France, just 2h drive from Paris. The best way to get here is by car or campervan. There are many campsites in the area.
Best time to visit
Spring, summer and early autumn months are definitely the best time to visit the castles. The days are longer and there is a better change for good weather.
Most castles are open from 9-10 AM to 6PM. It’s worth to know that the last entries are 30 min before the closing time. However, bear in mind that 30 min is never enough to explore any of the castles. Allow at least 2h per sites.
One thing is sure- visiting Loire Valley is not light on the budget as the ticket prices for castles are pretty high. They vary from 12 EUR to 19 EUR per person per castle. Unfortunately, there isn’t a join ticket for those castles.
Visiting the Loire Valley with coronavirus regulations
Coronavirus affected the travel industry deeply. We are happy to announce that we completed this trip just last week (June 23rd to June 25th) and had no issues during our voyage. All of the castles of the Loire Valley take necessary precautions, assuring the safety of the visitors. The masks are obligatory within the walls of all the castles. Usually it is fine to take them off while wandering the gardens. The sightseeing of the interiors is organised so all the corridors are one – way only. The visitors can follow preset routes with warnings to keep at least 1m distance. A certain amount of people are allowed to enter at once. However, it only caused a 30 min queue at Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire.
We recommend you wear a mask, carry hand sanitiser (even if they are available at every entrance) and disinfect your hands often during the day. Keep safety distance, avoid touching your face. We believe that the worst is behind us, but we need to stay smart to ensure the virus doesn’t come back.
However, we encourage you today to TRAVEL. Visit your region, set for a trip in your own country. Stay local, choose family run businesses over gigantic companies. People who rely on tourism to survive need us, travellers, more than ever.
Where to stay
We spent two nights of this trip camping and slept in our car. We wanted to save on accommodations and try it out before our big trip this August. However, there are two hotels we considered staying at and can recommend.
↬ Find all the best deals for the Loire Valley on booking.com