Three of the most dramatic and imposing chateaux in the Loire Valley, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Chenonceau and Cheverny reveal a wealth of history within their magnificent walls. The three palaces are set east of Tours, within a half-hour’s drive of each other, and can easily be visited on a full-day tour.
Seeing them together offers the chance to compare their differing architectural styles, intriguing stories and chequered histories. These together offer a broad overview of the Loire Valley chateaux, aristocratic life in the 16th century and its significance in French history.
You’re picked up from your hotel to begin your full-day, private guided exploration of the three chateaux.
Your first stop is the least known of the three palaces, the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire, which was originally built in the 10th century for defensive purposes. However, it soon became property of the wealthy Amboise family, and was passed down from generation to generation for the next five centuries. Almost entirely rebuilt in the 15th century by Charles I, the chateau is now a fairy-tale structure with four round towers and remarkable gardens.
Next, your guide takes you to the Château de Chenonceau, which is arguably the most well-known of all the chateaux in the Loire, due in part to its astounding multi-arched bridge that spans the River Cher.
Commissioned by Diane de Poitiers, the notorious mistress of Henri II, the bridge was later capped by a long gallery, which was added by Henri II's wife, Catherine de Medici, who seized the property following the king’s death in 1559. Because of its poignant history, Chenonceau has earned the name the Château des Dames (Chateau of the Ladies).
Your guide can recommend a stop for lunch in the Chenonceau area, after which you continue on your journey to the imposing Château de Cheverny.
Built as an elaborate hunting lodge aimed at demonstrating the enormous wealth of its owners, the castle is unlike any other in the region. It was completed in just ten years in the early 17th century and is still owned by the same family, its extravagant interiors blending Renaissance opulence with contemporary family life.
Cheverny is set in vast grounds still used for hunting by the French elite and retains a pack of about 100 hounds in its kennels.
At the end of the day, you’re taken back to your hotel.