Best Chateaux in the Loire Valley
France is a country full of road trip-worthy destinations: Bordeaux, Provence, & of course, the French Riviera. But just two hours south of Paris lies the beautiful, castle-filled Loire Valley, the focus of this post, & absolutely ideal for a romantic, country road trip. Here, we’ll not only discover the best chateaux in the Loire Valley, but we’ll also discover the best chateaux accommodations to STAY at…because I’m guessing that if you’re coming all the way here ~ you don’t want to stay at a generic roadside inn!
And the good news is: many castle hotels in the Loire Valley are quite reasonably priced. I stayed within easy driving distance of Chateax Chambord & Cheverny for around $100/night. Find out where below!
Map of Best Chateaux in the Loire Valley
You’ll find all five major chateaux on the map below ~ & their closest hotel stays. But what about renting a car? I HIGHLY recommend renting a car for your visit to the Loire Valley, particularly if you’re staying in a chateau, as they’re usually located some distance out of town.. I rented my car in Paris at Orly Airport, drove west to Mont Saint-Michel, then made my way south-east to the Loire. Driving in France was FAR less stressful than driving in Italy, particularly in the Loire region: its country roads are pretty quiet, & not heavily trafficked.
The alternative to renting a car is to take a bus tour, which usually start in major towns, such as Blois. This is a possibility, but one that gives you less flexibility. You can also try to Uber or taxi from place-to-place, but this may end up being more expensive than simply renting a car. I love using Discover Cars, as they typically find the best prices.
Chateau de La Rozelle (Hotel Near Cheverny)
Chateau de Colliers (Hotel Near Chambord)
Chateau de Rochecotte (Hotel Near Villandry & Tours)
Chateau du Pray (Hotel Near Chenonceau)
Chateau de la Bourdaisiere (Hotel Near Amboise & Chenonceau)
1) Chateau Chambord
We’ll start this tour in the north, working our way south. North of Blois, lies the most popular & largest chateau in the Loire Valley: Chateau Chambord. Not only is it MASSIVE ~ but it also features Leonardo DaVinci’s famous “Double Helix” staircase, which winds its way up the center of the castle. The staircase features two spirals; meaning that people walking up won’t encounter people on the “other” spiral ~ you won’t even know they’re on the same staircase!
I personally found Chambord’s interiors quite cold, & was disappointed that many of its rooms aren’t furnished. Compared to the other chateaux listed here, I thought itwas the least “charming” ~ but its massive & intensely masculine structure, manicured gardens, as well as the DaVinci staircase make it worth a visit.
Distinguishing Feature: DaVinci’s “Double Helix” staircase, as well as the sheer SIZE of the castle.
Best Chateau Hotel Stay Near Chambord: If you want to stay in a chateau with river views, check out Chateau de Colliers ($145+/night) ~ located just 8 kilometers from Chambord. Dating from the early 20th-century, this chateau features Louis XV furniture & a lounge terrace with sweeping Loire River views.
2) Chateau de Cheverny
The same day you visit Chambord, it’s also possible to visit: Chateau de Cheverny. The most unique thing about Cheverny is its dog kennels, which hold dozens of blood hounds, eagerly awaiting their next feeding! There’s a bit of a “dog smell” near the kennels, but it’s easy to overlook if you love dogs. I didn’t find the castle exterior as impressive as others, but the interiors are lovely ~ & rooms still contain much of the original furniture, making it worth a quick walk-through.
Make sure to go around the backside of the castle: there’s a cute cafe & beautiful gardens with an arched trellis, offering different (& I would say, better) views of the castle itself.
Distinguishing Feature: The dogs! There’s also a labyrinth to get lost in & boat rides available.
Best Chateau Hotel Stay Near Cheverny: A few miles from Cheverny is the lovely Chateau de La Rozelle ($63+/night), where I stayed! Set on beautiful grounds, this chateau has been lovingly preserved, & has a great location just a few miles from Blois. I stayed in an attic/single room, which was a wee bit small ~ but with a fantastic bathroom. If you need morespace, opt for at least a double room!
I loved staying at Chateau de La Rozelle: it made me feel a bit like a fairy princess, & from its central location, I was easily able to visit Chambord, Cheverny, Chaumont, & Chenonceau with my rental car.
3) Chateau de Chaumont
South of Cheverny, along the river in Chaumont-Sur-Loire, lies my second favorite chateaux in the Loire Valley: Chateau de Chaumont. I loved its large, round turrets, & found the grounds extremely charming: there’s a HUGE garden to the left, after you enter, which deserves a 45-minute walk-through on its own. Avid gardeners will LOVE it here. Chaumont is small enough to be charming, yet grand enough to make an impression. For my taste, I thought it was just right ~ & many of its interior rooms are still intact, making for an interesting & fairly quick, 20-minute walk-through.
From Chateau de La Rozelle (my accommodations), Chaumont was an easy, 25-minute drive, on quiet country roads ~ so La Rozelle is still my choice here for a lovely, nearby castle accommodation.
Distinguishing Feature: Its story-book exterior with numerous turrets, perfectly framed by cypress trees.
4) Chateau Chenonceau
And now, we have my favorite castle in the entire Loire region: Chateau Chenonceau. Located directly over the Cher River, with its iconic & easily recognizable arches, Chenonceau is straight out of a fairy-tale. You walk up through a tree-lined avenue, then are greeted by gardens on the left & right, & a fortress set right at the castle’s entrance. The gardens surrounding the castle are stunning, & the best I found aside from Chateau Villandry’s. Both inside the castle & throughout its grounds, Chenonceau radiates charm & elegance. And inside the castle lies its famous long, gallery room ~ with iconic black-and-white checkered floors. It’s the room that was built over the river, so you have splendid views from its many windows.
I also found Chenonceau fascinating due to its connection with so many powerful women, such as Catherine de Medici & Diane de Poitiers (Henry II’s mistress). They both had a huge influence on the castle’s construction, using their strong personalities to create their fantastic & expensive visions. This chateaux certainly had the most “feminine” influence of all those I visited. Trust me: Chenonceau is a MUST-visit!!
Distinguishing Feature: Its iconic arches & long gallery room that literally forms the “bridge” over the river. Gardens here are GORGEOUS, & extremely colorful!!
Budget at least two hours for visiting Chenonceau.
Great Chateau Accommodations Near Chenonceau: Amboise is the closest major town to Chenonceau, & you have two fabulous chateaux options nearby ~ 1) Chateau du Pray ($95+/night), & 2) Chateau de la Bourdaisiere ($135+/night). Both are set on large grounds, with Chateau de la Bourdaisiere’s being quite a bit larger, on 55 acres, with a restored Renaissance-era castle.
5) Chateau de Villandry
Chateau de Villandry lies furthest south, on this tour of the “Best Chateaux in the Loire Valley.” And you can save some money & skip the inside tour here ~ & simply marvel at Villandry’s gorgeous gardens. Walking through the gardens alone will take you AT LEAST an hour! They’re massive, with upper & lower levels, a lake, & all kinds of different “garden rooms,” each with a different color scheme & theme. It’s a bit overwhelming! But if you’re there on a sunny day like I was, you’ll find plenty of great photo opportunities. Wear bright clothes to make the most of your shots!
Distinguishing Feature: Its gardens!! They’re HUGE, & wildly varied with many different plant varieties & geometric shapes. You may gain inpiration for your own French country garden here! This is a great spot to bring a picnic lunch, grab a seat, & admire the view…
Best Chateaux Stay Near Villandry: Just a few miles from Villandry lies the opulent Chateau de Rochecotte Hotel ($150+/night). Set on 12 wooded acres, south-west of Tours, Chateau de Rochecotte marries old-world elegance with modern amenities, such as flat-screen TV’s. It’s a great place to stay if you’re interested in visiting chateaux in the southern Loire.