With its beautiful scenery, historic towns and magnificent chateaux, the Loire Valley lies in easy reach of Paris.
During the Renaissance period French aristocrats built lavish residences on or near the Loire River. Over 300 chateaux were built in the region, with only a few open to public visits. Among them is the 11th century Chateau d’Amboise, where Amboise’s most famous non-royal resident, Leonardo da Vinci worked.
Da Vinci may be responsible for designs to an even more spectacular chateau – Chambord – namely the double-helix staircase. Chambord’s façade is one of the Loire’s most famous, rising from a solid base and becoming more fanciful the higher it climbs.
Meanwhile, instantly recognisable Chenonceau is one of the great monuments of the French Renaissance.
While all of these buildings express the aspirations of different ages, the rambling Chateau de Blois, offers a whole range of styles in one spot.