Loire Valley Chateaux, a must see during holidays in France
In a class of its own, Loire Valley is dotted with elegant stone giants: the Loire chateaux. The landscape here is dominated by their majestic silhouettes: concentrated over an area of less than 100km, Touraine is home to some of the grandest Loire Valley castles.
The Loire Valley Chateaux around the city of Tours
Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, Chinon, Clos Lucé (last home of Leonardo da Vinci), Langeais, Loches, Villandry (and its famous gardens), Ussé (which inspire Charles Perrault for his fairy tale 'Sleeping beauty')… these castles are inseparable from the history of France and its kings; these names evoke the stories of Joan of Arc, Leonardo da Vinci, the troubled Middle Ages and the lavish Renaissance period.
The castle of Azay-le-Rideau, France. Photo credit: Léonard de Serres.
The various characters of the Loire Valley Chateaux, France.
Along with these famous monuments, there are nearly fifty Loire chateaux that are currently open to the public. While they all share two common traits, beautiful gardens and the "tuffeau" (tufa stone), a soft limestone from the banks of the Loire, each castle has its own individual character. No two attractions are alike, each castle is a unique experience due to the variety of architectural styles and the personality of their former and current owners.
Particular care is taken to families who also have the opportunity to experiment the “mini-châteaux” theme park in Amboise !
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'Tuffeau', the stone of the Loire Valley castles
It's the white stone that was used to build the large Renaissance castles: tuffeau stone is omnipresent in the Loire Valley. It can be found nearly everywhere! During the Tertiary era, the Anjou, Touraine and Blois regions were covered by a sea and over time, a large build-up of shells led to the formation of this sedimentary stone. Very soft and easy to work, tuffeau was extensively quarried from the river valley banks, thus giving rise to the troglodyte dwellings.
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The significant tradition of gardens in Loire Valley was established during the Renaissance. With the peace that began when weapons were finally set aside, the fortresses evolved into vast estates where gardens became a new living area, genuine outdoor living rooms.
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