NOTE: Given that most châteaux and churches have steps and stairs, or due to uneven paving or levels in medieval towns, few of these visits are adapted for the physically handicapped or people with reduced mobility.
The Royal Château of Amboise
Sitting high above the Loire, between medieval and Renaissance, and enclosing its dark history; the footsteps of Leonard da Vinci are found here. This visit can be paired with the Clos Lucé in Amboise.
The Château of Angers
From a fortress to pleasure, the Château of Angers is home to the famous Tapestry of the Apocolypse. An entry into the visions, the arts, the fears and the politics of thefourteenth century with this unbelievable masterwork.
The Château of Azay-le-Rideau
A sculptured jewel of the early French Renaissance. This visit is easily paired with Chinon, Villandry, Ussé or Langeais.
The Royal Château of Blois
A château that covers the 13th through the 17th centuries and has many stories to tell; Catherine de ‘Medici, her son King Henri III, Francis I, Anne of Brittany and Marie de ‘Medici; love, murder, politics and architecture.
Holds the label of one of the most beautiful villages in France, a visit usually twinned with the Royal Abbaye of Fontevraud
The Château of Chambord
The vision of the young Renaissance King, Francis I, a monument to secular royal power, defining it with richly sculptured symbolic architecture. The most royal of all châteaux of the Loire Valley. A visit easily paired with Cheverny.
The Holy Chapel of Champigny-sur-Veude
Inspired by the Saint Chapelle in Paris, this Renaissance beauty not only shows in its construction the rapid changes from medieval to Renaissance, but contains some of the best stained glass still in existence from the 16th century, dedicated to Saint Louis, Louis IX of France, and all intact. This visit is easily paired with a visit of the town of Richelieu
The Château of Chenonceau
“the ladies’ château” – because it is a history of women, including Catherine de ‘Medici and her rival Diane de Poitiers. Beautifully furnished, rich in history and heartbreak, following the lines of the complete Rennaissance period in France.
The Château of Cheverny
A privately owned and exceptionally richly furnished château from the 17th century, and a rarity in the Loire. Easily paired with Chambord.
The Historic Town of Chinon
Chinon holds the government label of “Ville d’Art et d’Histoire”, one of the towns of particular interest for art and history; throughout the medieval period, Chinon was a vastly important place in French – and English - history. Half timber houses and Renaissance abodes line the streets to the church of Saint Maurice built by the Plantagenet and where Joan of Arc prayed while in Chinon. This visit can be paired with the exceptional Chapel of Saint Radegonde and/or the Royal Fortress. A visit to the Collegiate Church of St Mexme can also be offered.
The Royal Fortress of Chinon
From the power of the Plantagenêt to Joan of Arc, this château holds the history of France in its stark medieval heart. Same information as for the Historic Town, and pairing possibilities.
The Saint Radegonde Chapel
Hidden up high on the rocky hillside of Chinon is the Saint Radegonde Chapel, semi-troglodytic with history extending from the 2 B.C. through the medieval period to today. It is home to the famous fresco “The Royal Hunt” of the Plantagenet family from the 12th century, with an ambulatory carved into the rock. Exceptional and rare.
The Clos Lucé
From the private oratory of the twice Queen Anne of Brittany to the private and last home of the Universal Genius, Leonardo da Vinci, enter into the ideas of the Renaissance.
The Collegiate Church of Saint Mexme
Started in the year 1000 with a sculptured crucifixion from this period, the now vestiges of this once very important church show the evolutions and thoughts of the medieval period.
The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud
Romanesque, Renaissance and Classicism are all present in this once most powerful of abbeys. It is the necropolis of the Plantagenêt in France, with the recumbent figures of Henry II, Eleanor or Aquitaine and Richard Lion Heart in the nave. This visit is easily paired with Candes- Saint-Martin.
Wonderful when paired with the St Radegonde Chapel.
This château is literally the beginning and end of the history of medieval chateaux in France, from the end of the 10th and the late 15th centuries. Richly furnished and full of history. Easily paired with Azay-le-Rideau
The Château, Donjon, and the Royal City of Loches
Holding the label, “petite ville de caractère”, the historic town of Loches presents a beautiful walk through history with twisting streets and old homes, a donjon tower dating from the early 11th century and later additions from the Plantagenet, an exceptional Romanesque church, and a château from the 14th and 15th centuries, with Joan of Arc, Anne of Brittany and Agnès Sorel as some of the women who have marked its past.
The Historic Town of Richelieu
City of the Cardinal – the Cardinal de Richelieu is not only alive in Dumas’s great fictional novels, but is ever present in this first attempt at “modern and complete” urban planning in his own “ideal city” from the 17th century. Easily paired with the Holy Chapel of Champigny-sur-Veude
Church of Tavant
One of the most mysterious and enigmatic medieval sites, this Romanesque church from the eleventh century with its renowned, intact and fully painted crypt offers a voyage into the thought and medieval experience that at once envelopes and transports the visitor. Exceptional and rare. Easily paired with the Saint Radegonde Chapel in Chinon and the Holy Chapel in Champigny sur Veude.
The Château of Ussé
“the “sleeping beauty castle” that has inspired many a writer, including Charles Perrault’s famous tale from the 17th century.
The Château and Gardens of Villandry
A Renaissance château, privately owned, known especially for its formal French gardens, restored to what they would have resembled at the time of construction, the only château to have undertaken this enormous task.
Azay-le-Rideau, photo credit Berthé
St Radegonde, photo Lanlignel
Richelieu, photo DR
Chenonceau, photo Marc
Candes-Saint-Martin, photo DR
Amboise, photo DR
Amboise, photo DR
Chambord, photo Sophie Lloyd
Champigny sur Veude, photo DR
Chinon, photo DR
Sainte Radegonde, photo Portier
Fontevraud, photo Liaum
Cunault, photo DR
Rigny Ussé, Photo DR