Christmas in Loire Valley châteaux – France
Which French castle to visit in winter? Answer: Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, Chinon, Langeais, Loches, Villandry! From Saturday, December 2, 2023 to Sunday, January 7, 2024, seven of the Loire Valley’s greatest castles will be celebrating the spirit of the holiday season with exceptional tours and activities: it’s “Christmas in the land of châteaux” in Touraine.
Christmas in the land of châteaux is built as an itinerary linking seven of the most famous Loire Valley castles around the great themes emblematic of Christmas. Each castle takes on a different theme, but all have the same objective: to put stars in the eyes of children and adults alike!
Good Tips for Christmas
If you wish to discover several of these Loire Valley monuments on the occasion of Christmas, note that passes are sold in the Tourist Offices of Touraine, valid during the operation. In addition to a special rate in the castles, they also give you discounts with several partners. From now, passes for 3, 5 or 7 castles are available with the Tours Loire Valley Tourist Office.
Also note that the Tours Val de Loire Tourist Office has developed special “Christmas in the land of chateaux” stays for individuals and groups.
Smart Christmas trees, candy, giant nativity scene…
Imagine a giant Christmas tree covered in more than 2,300 decorative elements, sugar sculptures with multicolored candies, dozens of candles and braziers playing a game of light and shadow, a huge Neapolitan Nativity scene filled with scenes and characters, Christmas trees with resolutely contemporary shapes…
From the beginning of December to the beginning of January, each château develops its own universe. After one, two or three visits… a spirit of collection quickly takes hold, one discovery irresistibly calling for another! These tours are accessible every day, including outside school vacation periods in France.
“Christmas in the land of Châteaux”, it is also an exceptional opening of the castles for an evening to discover their Christmas route until 8pm, at night (last admissions at 7pm in some castles).
- Château of Azay-le-Rideau: Saturday, December 9 (until 8:30pm);
- Château of Villandry: Saturday, December 16;
- Royal Château of Amboise: Friday, December 22;
- Château of Chenonceau: Tuesday, December 26;
- Château of Langeais: Wednesday, December 27;
- Royal fortress of Chinon: Thursday, December 28;
- Royal City of Loches: Friday, December 29.
Royal Château of Amboise => “Christmas, childhood dreams – The mini worlds of Christmas: A journey into the world of Léo and his great, tiny delights.” For the release of the animated film Léo, the Royal Château of Amboise will be recreating a dozen magnificent film sets. Visitors can see the poetic little worlds in the decorated rooms of the Royal Lodge, providing an echo to the festive Christmas atmosphere and immersing them in the “Gulliverian” joys of childhood dreams. The journey then continues to other tiny lands with traditional dolls’ houses and dioramas of toy figures made by Mignot. This year in Amboise, “Christmas in the Land of the Châteaux” is taking on a new dimension!
Château of Azay-le-Rideau => “A taste of Christmas”. A fantasy atmosphere embraces the château for a real taste of Christmas, a pinch of magic bringing to life the gourmet dreams of adults and children alike. This year, the chef is a woman, Catherine Mangou, a textile restorer and scenographer, who has imagined a wonderful Christmas for the château… From room to room, delightful decoration specially created for the occasion highlights the tasty treats and dishes. Christmas is a time to celebrate, a time when children’s dreams come to life as they marvel at the sight of richly filled dining tables decorated with original and refined floral compositions straight out of a fairy tale or an enchanted forest filled with good things to eat… And since Christmas at the château would not be complete without a feast, the main room will be dressed in all its finery, and a luxurious dining table will be laid. And now, let the magic begin!
Château of Chenonceau (prior booking required for the visit) => “Christmas in Chenonceau: The very epitome of a Palace, Chenonceau is the “Palazzo on the water”. Chenonceau owes everything to Italy, from Venice to Florence. Here the art of entertaining will be celebrated at CHRISTMAS 2023, giving our visitors a perfect welcome for the day. An identity and a staging with flowers, all created by the Château’s Floral Workshop, and expertly stage-managed with all the luxury and pomp of a Palace, timeless bouquets, single and double flower compositions, symmetry and a symphony of orchids… A luxurious and luxuriant display of flowers. In the gigantic kitchens, the children will be delighted to see barley sugar and other giant sweets, specially created by the Amboise Confectionery Conservatory! If a Palace helps to share French culture with the outside world, then the Christmas holidays will be an encounter with history and the art of flowers in an exceptional residence!
Royal Fortress of Chinon => “Myths and legends of Christmas: Father Christmas moves into the Fortress”. The iconic and mythical figure of Father Christmas is at the heart of the legends of the festive season. This year, Father Christmas and his elves have taken up residence in the Fortress to prepare the big Christmas festivities! In the royal quarters, each room is bathed in the Christmas atmosphere with the help of elegant plant decorations. The secrets of the preparations behind the scenes are unveiled in a festive, off-the-wall staging. In the workshop, you can see the elves taking care of the children’s Christmas letters and making their presents. Then step inside the daily life of Father Christmas with a visit to his relaxation room. In the kitchen, a delicious dining table is laid with traditional dishes to keep Father Christmas and his elves happy. The visit continues in the Clock Tower with an exhibition of photos dedicated to Father Christmas.
Château of Langeais => “Christmas of lights”. Light, the symbol of a new birth, is at the heart of the Christmas season. In the Middle Ages, the bright light from candles enhanced great noble residences during receptions and banquets. For the end of the year, the Château de Langeais will be immersing visitors in the magic of Christmas by renewing this tradition of light. They will be greeted on arrival by majestic sculptures, including a reindeer and its sled. They can then admire the rooms glittering with candles, lanterns and tinsel. The staging highlights the Christmas atmosphere: the banquet table is illuminated by a thousand lights; the children’s room is decorated with an enchanted forest featuring a rich array of lanterns and poulaine shoes left behind by the elves; the knights’ room and its majestic vault are enhanced by an original projection inspired by the château, while the angels’ procession with its golden halo rounds off the visit…
Royal city of Loches => “The Tales of the Royal City – Once upon her time!”. A story, but which story shall we tell? This year, three princesses will meet at the Royal City of Loches for an imaginary story. Adults and children alike will be delighted to find all the magic ingredients: a flying carriage, an evil queen, a mysterious forest… Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty will all be guests at the Château de Loches for a surprising Christmas staged by Philippe Freslon, the creator and scenographer for the Compagnie Off.
Chateau of Villandry =>“At Christmas, the château opens its doors to nature”. After nature’s triumphs from spring to autumn, it is reborn at the heart of winter. And this time nature has been invited inside the château. In the family residence with a warm and friendly atmosphere, a festive mood can be found in each room. While we are preparing the Christmas celebrations, the forest and its inhabitants joyfully take up their residence in the living room, the dining room, bedrooms and kitchen, in richly decorated Christmas trees and real plant decorations. From the château windows, you can look out on the gardens, dressed in their winter clothing: mosaics of ornamental cabbages and leeks, the lacework of box hedges, the silhouettes of sculpted yew trees and long avenues of sleepy elm trees. The promise of wonderful winter walks. This winter, nature has taken over Villandry a little bit more to bring us an enchanting Christmas…
Even more Christmas festivities
Beyond these 7 Loire Valley castles, many other events are held in Touraine during the Christmas holidays, such as the Christmas market in Tours, the Christmas circus in Luynes, the glittering Christmas at the Grand Aquarium of Touraine, but also in other monuments. It is the case of:
- the castle of Montpoupon, on December 2 and 3, 9 and 10, 16 and 17,
- the castle of l’Islette, on the same weekends and from 26 to 30 December,
- Château Gaillard, and its magical christmas and its orange trees,
- the Clos Lucé castle and its Christmas enchantments,
- and the fortress of Montbazon and its Santa Claus village.
And while you’re in Loire Valley, why not do a bit of shopping?
Whites, rosés or reds, the wines of Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Chinon, Montlouis-sur-Loire or Vouvray will go superbly well with your festive menus: remember to bring back a few bottles. The wild fish terrines of the Loire will be a hit on toasted bread, as will the local foie gras. You can also root out a few black truffles, a festive ingredient for sure, or delicious saffron.
In the bakeries, you will even find a local Yule Log: the Tourangelle. A light cookie with almonds and hazelnuts, topped with vanilla cream, apples Tatin style and salted butter caramel… yum!
In the basket weaving village of Villaines-les-Rochers, local craftsmen create original wickerwork tree decorations which will hang effortlessly alongside the handcrafted glass baubles from the Maison Verart, in Amboise.