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Enchanting Chateaus: Exploring France’s Loire Valley

Posted on March 14th, 2024 in Europe, Africa & Asia

Envision yourself visiting one of the most opulent, regal, and historical places in all of Europe: the dreamy Loire Valley in France. Home to incredible world-famous chateaus, this is truly a destination worthy of a fairy tale. Our Chateaus of France tour takes you on a one-of-a-kind immersive trip through the past, starting as far back as the Middle Ages and leading up through the Renaissance to the present day. Discover centuries of art, culture, architecture, and history while experiencing the relaxing French lifestyle.

Read on to learn about what adventures await on this fantastic tour.

Chateau de Fontainebleau

The first chateau we pay a visit to is an expansive residence that has been passed down for generations dating back 800 years. Fontainebleau was originally built as a hunting lodge for King Louis VII, and it was home to generations of French kings up to Napoleon III; four centuries of royal history! This stunning palace consists of four main courtyards, three gardens, and a park. Much of the décor is still true to the renovations made by Napoleon I; in fact, it’s the only place with a Napoleonic Throne room still in existence today.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, the chateau houses the Museum of Napoleon I, royal apartments, art galleries, and countless exhibits dedicated to the rich history of Fontainebleau. Step back into centuries of luxury and discover the opulent lifestyle of French royalty at one of the country’s largest chateaus.

Chateau du Clos Lucé

The last home of legendary Leonardo da Vinci, this chateau was built all the way back in 1471. It was primarily a summer home for French royalty up until King Francis I appointed da Vinci the “first painter, engineer and architect of the King,” which led to his residence at the chateau. During da Vinci’s time living here, he designed the double-helix staircase for Chateau de Chambord, which we also visit!

Get a glimpse into this famed artist’s life and discover untouched Renaissance-era architecture at this inspiring place, most of which has remained in its original state or been restored to look as it did during Leonardo da Vinci’s residency.

Chateau Villesavin

Built in 1537, this chateau was the estate of Jean le Breton, who also built Chateau de Chambord. Once known as the “Chambord worksite,” it was intended to be a place to oversee the progress on Chambord, so you’ll find the architecture of both chateaus are very similar in the French Renaissance style with bits of Italian inspiration. One of the most unique features of Villesavin is its dovecote , or small house for pigeons, as it’s one of the only ones that survived the French Revolution!

Now Villesavin is not only a fascinating historical monument, but also home to two museums showcasing wedding and cultural traditions of the area. The wedding museum boasts a collection of over 1500 items, from historical bridal dresses to meticulously prepared trosseaus.

Chateau de Chambord

Constructed as a hunting lodge for Francois I in 1519, Chateau de Chambord is a palace of regal and epic proportions and is the largest chateau in the Loire Valley. It was built with the intention of being a symbol of Francois I’s wealth and power. Leonardo da Vinci left his legendary mark on the castle by designing its famous double-helix staircase, which serves as a sort of centerpiece for the palace. This distinguished estate was placed on the first list of French historical monuments in 1840 and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.

While here, we also enjoy an exciting show of falconry and horsemanship! Recounting the life of Francois I, the show features exciting acrobatic stunts, awe-inspiring birds of prey, and much more. Visiting this well-known chateau is a trip through opulence, French history, and spectacular culture.

Chateau de Chenonceau

Spanning the River Cher in the Loire Valley is Chateau de Chenonceau, a property with a deep and richly significant history. Built in the 16th century, this chateau’s design bridges Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles into one, making it truly unique. Some of the most important and impactful parts of Chenonceau’s history took place during World War I, when the property was converted into a military hospital. At the time, this hospital was equipped with one of the first X-Ray machines! Over 2,000 soldiers were cared for here from 1914 to 1918, and today the chateau’s Gallery of Domes honors the memory of all who were treated and all who worked in the hospital.

Later, during World War II, Chenonceau served as the only means of escaping Nazi-occupied territory on the opposite side of the River Cher. The chateau was bombed by Germans in 1940, leading to a German occupancy before it was later bombed again by Allied forces in 1944. Due to these attacks, the structure was impacted significantly; however, after 1951, restoration efforts began and the property has been brought back to its marvelous state for us all to appreciate today.

Chartres Cathedral

A unique highlight of this historical, architecture-centered trip is a visit to Chartres Cathedral, a beautiful and important site. Constructed between 1194 and 1220, this ancient cathedral has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 and is referred to as “the high point of French Gothic art” – a truly impressive honor! While the building currently standing is not the original, there has been a cathedral on the site since no later than the 4th century. Throughout the years, there have been at least five cathedrals built, destroyed by war or fire, and later replaced in the same spot. The most recent instance of rebuilding due to fire damage took place in 1836.

This church is one of the most well-known displays of Gothic architecture, and a visit to the cathedral reveals exactly what makes it so special. The breathtakingly high ceilings, stunning stained-glass windows, intricately detailed flying buttresses, and countless other spectacular features make the cathedral a must-see masterpiece worthy of your bucket list.


If Paris has a spot on your travel bucket list, this is a perfect opportunity to check it off. After our enriching journey through the French countryside, we spend two days exploring this iconic city and enjoy all it has to offer. This tour takes place just after the summer Olympics, which will create an even more exciting and lively atmosphere!

Immerse yourself in Parisian culture and discover delectable cuisine, impeccable views of the Eiffel Tower, a magical evening cruise of the Seine River, and an optional guided tour of the city. If you’re more of an adventurous traveler, take the reins and explore Paris as you wish with ample time at leisure. There’s something for everyone to love in the City of Lights!

We’d be thrilled to have you join us on this trip of a lifetime. Let us take care of the planning; simply secure your spot, pack your bags, and enjoy your vacation! Reserving your spot on this tour is now easier than ever with our online booking feature. If you have any questions or have questions about our tours, give us a call at 888-867-2190. We can’t wait to travel with you!

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