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Around Chenonceaux

Leave the town and enter the history books...


vers-chenonceau

After a walk in the heart of the Plumereau quarter, or along the shopping streets of Tours, we invite you to step back in time to discover the jewels of our history!

A few tens of  minutes from Tours, the châteaux of the Loire appear around each bend on the banks of a river, just past a village or at the end of a tree-lined avenue. Majestic, towering, often even spectacular, always charming, both in their dimensions their architecture, they seem to have made an appointment with you personally in this royal land!

And it's precisely to the heart of the romantic Cher Valley that we have decided to lead you. Just 35 km from the city of Tours, to the east, is the most visited château in France after Versailles— the Château de Chenonceau.

Built in 1513 by Katherine Briçonnet then embellished by Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici, it is known as the "ladies château" (château des dames) having had six successive female owners including those famous three.
Chenonceau-chateau

 

With its five arches spanning the Cher, this is the only château in the world that is also a bridge! Perched between the sky and the water, it is a study in pure elegance. Reflected in the river, this jewel of the Renaissance offers so much to see and dream about — richly furnished rooms, Flemish tapestries, an exceptional collection of paintings by Tintoretto , Primaticcio, Rubens and other major artists... a vast gallery overlooking the river Cher, the amazing kitchens built on the piers of the bridge and exceptional floral compositions in accordance with the seasons. In short, an absolutely unmissable sight on the circuit of the most beautiful Loire châteaux!

Before you go, and after a gourmet treat in the Orangerie tea room, what better than a stroll through the gardens and walkways of the château - perfect for to daydreaming - to the floralwork shop or the Gallery of the Domes which houses the Wax Museum. More than 500 years after its construction, this architectural masterpiece on the Cher hosts nearly one million visitors each year... we told you that you were in the right place!

Through forest and vineyards, head towards Amboise, less than 20 minutes away. A beautiful prelude of light on the river, plenty of good food and a holiday atmosphere.

Enterning the heart of the town, the royal château appears before you From the hights of its gardens, the panoramic view over the Loire Valley is simply remarkable.

A little farther on, the Clos Lucé - last home of Leonardo da Vinci - invites us to share the world of the Italian genius There is a collection of fifty models made from the Master's drawings, giant machines, and a reconstruction of the "Garden of Leonardo."

No better place than Amboise to stroll around and appreciate the unique air of the sweet Touraine country!

Continung this delicious journey along the Loire, why not stop in one of the charming guest houses the Touraine is famous for. Enjoy the evening and leave the next morning refreshed and ready for more adventures. To the east, the châteaux of Chaumont-sur-Loire, Cheverny and Chambord complete the list of unmissable atractions. Take the north bank of the Loire for the best and most attractive route – cameras at the ready!

 

Twenty minutes after departure from Amboise, you arraive at Chaumont-sur-Loire. This elegant château illustrates both the defensive architecture of the Gothic period and the more decorative Renaissance style.

From the top of the hill where the château is built, there is an amazing view over the wild Loire - definitely one of the best views to be had of the royal river!

The Domaine de Chaumont estate - which spans 30 hectares - also hosts the International Garden Festival (April to October), installations by contemporary artists and exhibitions by famous photographers.

chateaudechevernyIt then only takes 40 minutes to get to Cheverny, part of the small town of Sologne, but which boasts one of the biggest châteaux in the whole Loire Valley. This stately property, owned by the same family for over six centuries, inspired Hergé for Marlinspike Hall, Captain Haddock's home in the Tintin adventures. There is a permanent exhibition where you can see Tintin's room and the laboratory of Professor Calculus, open to the public since 2001.

A sea of beautifully tended lawns, landscaped garden, in perfect balance with the château, a rich interior decoration and a pack of more than a hundred hunting hounds to visit at any time of day. Here reigns an atmosphere of elegance and finery, soft and pleasant, and always a little hard to leave!

But it's time to move on, to Chambord - 17 km north - passing through the Boulogne forest. The Grand Finale, this immense estate of 5440 hectares, enclosed by a wall 32 km long is internationally famous. The gigantic château of Chambord receives no fewer than 730,000 visitors each year, and nearly two million enjoy the splendid park!


This is the château of superlatives: 77 staircases, three levels, 800 images and sculptures of salamanders (!), 282 chimneys and 440 rooms in total ... Fortunately, visitors only has access to eighty of them! Inside, it's a veritable palace of the countryside, built in honour of François the First. Not to be missed - the royal apartments, the collection of tapcheminées-Chambordestries, the ornate fireplaces, the coffered ceilings, the double staircase where two people can climb their separate ways without ever meeting, even at the top a (disrutbing effect), and the beautiful terraceswith an outstanding view over the Chambord estates.

After this unique visit - really not quite like the others - we might choose to return to Tours via Blois. Built in a natural amphitheatre on the hillside overlooking the Loire, Blois was the centre of the French Renaissance. Its château was the residence of seven kings and ten queens of France.

The Château de Blois houses the Museum of Fine Arts in the Louis XII wing, while the François I wing is devoted to furniture, decorative arts and lapidary collections.

Finally, facing the royal château, a large town house from 1856 is well worth visiting – it's home to the famous "Maison de la Magie" the only public museum in Europe to present in one place — and on more than 2000 m² of floor area — a museum collection devoted to the art of magic, along with a ongoing live shows every day. Don't forget to salute the six-headed dragon who pops up at the windows every half hour!

The cultural interlude around Chenonceau comes to an end, and now it's time for light and sound — spectacular shows, illuminated walks and other pageants in the timeless setting of these jewels of architecture!

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