The Loire Valley châteaux in Touraine
To say that the châteaux in Touraine are part of the landscape would be an understatement! Whether they are illustrious châteaux or less well-known manor houses, their silhouettes are always omnipresent. Why are so many of them concentrated in this part of France?
They are the legacy of the French kings who adored the Loire Valley.
Alongside the fortresses (Chinon, Loches) then the royal estates (Amboise), a large number of castles were built by leading figures of the realm (Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, Villandry) and court nobility.
Initially built for defensive purposes in the troubled times of the Middle Ages, the Loire châteaux gradually opened outwards during the Renaissance, abandoning their austere ramparts and drawbridges to make way for a style particularly inspired by Italian culture. It was at this time that the tradition of gardens, considered as ‘outdoor salons’, came into being in the Loire Valley.
The myriad personalities of the Loire Valley châteaux
Today, each one tells its own unique story: the sumptuous feasts of the royal court at Amboise, the legendary meeting between Joan of Arc and the French Dauphin at Chinon, the multi-talented genius Leonardo da Vinci at Clos Lucé, the epic marriage of a Windsor at the Domaine de Candé, Rodin and Camille Claudel’s love affair at the Château de l’Islette… You’ll be spoilt for choice!
The châteaux of the Loire, heritage in motion
The revival is here to stay and Touraine’s heritage has its sights set firmly on the future. Almost everywhere, there are initiatives helping to improve the ways of discovering the Loire Valley castles and the visitor trails. The ‘Loire à Vélo’ cycle route also provides an opportunity to combine an active holiday with discovering heritage.