Châteaux of the Loire Valley

The Châteaux of the Loire Valley (French: Châteaux de la Loire) are part of the architectural heritage of the historic towns of Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Montsoreau, Nantes, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours along the Loire River in France. They illustrate Renaissance ideals of design in France.[1]

Châteaux of the Loire Valley
Chateau de Montsoreau Museum of contemporary art Loire Valley France.jpg
LocationFrance (Centre, Pays de la Loire)
BuiltRenaissance
Architectural style(s)French Renaissance architecture
TypeCultural
Designated2000
Part ofThe Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes
Reference no.933
CountryFrance
RegionEurope and North America

The châteaux of the Loire Valley number over three hundred,[2] ranging from practical fortified castles from the 10th century to splendid residences built half a millennium later. When the French kings began constructing their huge châteaux in the Loire Valley, the nobility, drawn to the seat of power, followed suit, attracting the finest architects and landscape designers. The châteaux and their surrounding gardens are cultural monuments which stunningly embody the ideals of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Many of the châteaux were built on hilltops, such as the Château d'Amboise, while the only one built in the riverbed is the Château de Montsoreau. Many had exquisite churches on the grounds or within the château.

HistoryEdit

As the wars of the 15th century wound down, Kings Charles VII, Louis XI, and their successors preferred to spend the bulk of their time in the "garden of France" along the banks of the Loire. In the late 15th century, Tours, then Blois, and later Amboise became the preferred locations of the French royal court. Many courtiers bought dilapidated castles built by the medieval Counts of Blois and of Anjou, and had them reconstructed in the latest Italianate fashion. Leonardo da Vinci and other Italian artists arrived to design and beautify these residences.

By the middle of the 16th century, King François I had shifted his throne from the Loire back to the ancient capital of Paris. With him went the great architects, but the Loire Valley continued to be the place where most of the French royalty preferred to spend the bulk of their time. King Louis XIV, in the middle of the 17th century, made Paris the permanent locale for great royal châteaux when he built the Palace of Versailles. Nonetheless, those who gained the king's favour and the wealthy bourgeoisie continued to renovate existing châteaux or build lavish new ones in the Loire as summer residences.

The French Revolution saw a number of the great châteaux destroyed and many ransacked, their treasures stolen. The overnight impoverishment of many of the deposed nobility, usually after one of its members lost his or her head to the guillotine, saw many châteaux demolished. During World War I and World War II, some chateaux were commandeered as military headquarters. Some of these continued to be so used after the end of World War II.

Today, the remaining privately owned châteaux serve as homes, a few open their doors to tourists, while others operate as hotels or bed-and-breakfasts. Many others have been taken over by local governments, and the grandest, like those at Chambord, are owned and operated by the national government and are major tourist sites, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

List of châteaux of the LoireEdit

Though there is no universally accepted definition for the designation, the main criterion is that the château must be situated close to the Loire or one of its tributaries (such as the Maine, Cher, Indre, Creuse or Loir). Châteaux further upstream than Gien are generally not included, with the possible exception of the Bastie d'Urfé for its historical significance.

Royal châteauxEdit

Château Commune Département Coordinates Historic Events Image
Amboise Amboise Indre-et-Loire 47°24′47″N 0°59′9″E / 47.41306°N 0.98583°E / 47.41306; 0.98583 (Château d'Amboise) Accidental death of Charles VIII (1498)[3]
Amboise conspiracy (1560)

Edict of Amboise with the Calvinists (1563)

 
Angers Angers Maine-et-Loire 47°28′12″N 0°33′36″W / 47.47000°N 0.56000°W / 47.47000; -0.56000 (Château d'Angers) Location of the Apocalypse Tapestry  
Blois Blois Loir-et-Cher 47°35′8″N 1°19′51″E / 47.58556°N 1.33083°E / 47.58556; 1.33083 (Château de Blois) Assassination of Henry I, Duke of Guise (1588)[3]  
Chambord Chambord Loir-et-Cher 47°36′58″N 1°31′2″E / 47.61611°N 1.51722°E / 47.61611; 1.51722 (Château de Chambord) Considered the most magnificent Loire château
Treaty of Chambord (1552)[3]
 
Chenonceau Chenonceaux Indre-et-Loire 47°19′31″N 1°4′13″E / 47.32528°N 1.07028°E / 47.32528; 1.07028 (Château de Chenonceau) Owned by Diane de Poitiers (1547–1559)
et Catherine de Médicis (1559–1589)[3]
 
Chinon Chinon Indre-et-Loire 47°10′5″N 0°14′10″E / 47.16806°N 0.23611°E / 47.16806; 0.23611 (Château de Chinon) Meeting between Charles VII and Joan of Arc (1429)[3]  
Langeais Langeais Indre-et-Loire 47°19′29″N 0°24′22″E / 47.32472°N 0.40611°E / 47.32472; 0.40611 (Château de Langeais) Marriage de Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany (1491)  
Loches Loches Indre-et-Loire 47°7′29″N 0°59′48″E / 47.12472°N 0.99667°E / 47.12472; 0.99667 (Château de Loches) Captured by Richard the Lionheart (1194)[3] Residence of Agnès Sorel (1443–1450)  
Plessis-lez-Tours La Riche Indre-et-Loire 47°22′57″N 0°39′38″E / 47.38250°N 0.66056°E / 47.38250; 0.66056 (Château de Plessis-lèz-Tours) Treaty of Tours (1444)

Death of Louis XI (1483)

Death of Francis of Paola (1507), founder of the Order of Minims

Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours (1580)

Meeting between Henry III and the king of Navarre, future Henry IV, who ally against Catholic League (1589)

 
Saumur Saumur Maine-et-Loire 47°15′22″N 0°4′21″W / 47.25611°N 0.07250°W / 47.25611; -0.07250 (Château de Saumur) "Château d'amour" of the king René of Anjou (1454–1472)
Place of sanctuary for Protestants (1589)
 
Tours Tours Indre-et-Loire 47°23′49″N 0°41′34″E / 47.39694°N 0.69278°E / 47.39694; 0.69278 (Château de Tours) Marriage of the future Louis XI and Margaret of Scotland (1436)
Imprisonment of Charles, Duke of Guise (1588–1591)
 

Châteaux of the nobilityEdit

Château Commune Département Coordinates Notes Image
Azay-le-Rideau Azay-le-Rideau Indre-et-Loire 47°15′33″N 0°27′58″E / 47.25917°N 0.46611°E / 47.25917; 0.46611 (Château d'Azay-le-Rideau) Masterpiece of the first French Renaissance[4]  
Beauregard Cellettes Loir-et-Cher 47°32′13″N 1°23′3″E / 47.53694°N 1.38417°E / 47.53694; 1.38417 (Château de Beauregard) Art gallery  
Brézé Brézé Maine-et-Loire 47°10′28″N 0°03′27″W / 47.17444°N 0.05750°W / 47.17444; -0.05750 (Château de Brézé) Artifacts of Troglodytes under the château
Deepest moats in France
 
Brissac Brissac-Quincé Maine-et-Loire 47°21′11″N 0°26′59″W / 47.35306°N 0.44972°W / 47.35306; -0.44972 (Château de Brissac) Tallest château in France  
Chanteloup Amboise Indre-et-Loire 47°23′28″N 0°58′13″E / 47.39111°N 0.97028°E / 47.39111; 0.97028 (Pagode de Chanteloup) Property of Duke of Choiseul (1760–1785)  
Châteaudun Châteaudun Eure-et-Loir 48°04′15″N 1°19′25″E / 48.07083°N 1.32361°E / 48.07083; 1.32361 (Château de Châteaudun) Property of Jean de Dunois (1439–1468)  
Chaumont-sur-Loire Chaumont-sur-Loire Loir-et-Cher 47°28′45″N 1°10′55″E / 47.47917°N 1.18194°E / 47.47917; 1.18194 (Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire) Property of Catherine de' Medici (1550–1559) et Diane de Poitiers (1559–1566)  
Cheverny Cheverny Loir-et-Cher 47°30′1″N 1°27′29″E / 47.50028°N 1.45806°E / 47.50028; 1.45806 (Château de Cheverny) Inspiration for Hergé's Marlinspike Hall  
Clos-Lucé Amboise Indre-et-Loire 47°24′36″N 0°59′31″E / 47.41000°N 0.99194°E / 47.41000; 0.99194 (Clos-Lucé) Home to Leonardo da Vinci (1516–1519)[3]  
Ducs de Bretagne Nantes Loire-Atlantique 47°12′56″N 1°32′59″W / 47.21556°N 1.54972°W / 47.21556; -1.54972 (Château des ducs de Bretagne) Located near the River mouth of the Loire
Residence of the Dukes of Brittany
 
Meillant Meillant Cher 46°46′59″N 2°30′15″E / 46.78306°N 2.50417°E / 46.78306; 2.50417 (Château de Meillant) Contains the famous Tour du Lion  
Montsoreau Montsoreau Maine-et-Loire 47°12′56″N 0°03′44″E / 47.21556°N 0.06222°E / 47.21556; 0.06222 (Château de Montsoreau) Only Château in the Loire Valley constructed in the Loire riverbed
Château de Montsoreau-Museum of Contemporary Art has the world's largest holding of Art & Language works[5]
 
Richelieu Richelieu Indre-et-Loire 47°00′26″N 0°19′33″E / 47.00722°N 0.32583°E / 47.00722; 0.32583 (Château de Richelieu) Property of Cardinal Richelieu (1621-1642)  
Sully-sur-Loire Sully-sur-Loire Loiret 47°46′4″N 2°22′31″E / 47.76778°N 2.37528°E / 47.76778; 2.37528 (Château de Sully-sur-Loire) Property of Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully (1602–1641)  
Ussé Rigny-Ussé Indre-et-Loire 47°14′59″N 0°17′28″E / 47.24972°N 0.29111°E / 47.24972; 0.29111 (Château d'Ussé) Inspiration for Charles Perrault's Sleeping Beauty[4]  
Valençay Valençay Indre 47°9′27″N 1°33′48″E / 47.15750°N 1.56333°E / 47.15750; 1.56333 (Château de Valençay) Property of Talleyrand (1803–1838)[3]  
Villandry Villandry Indre-et-Loire 47°20′26″N 0°30′51″E / 47.34056°N 0.51417°E / 47.34056; 0.51417 (Château de Villandry) Famous for its French formal gardens[3]  

Other châteauxEdit

Château Commune Département Coordinates Image
Argy Argy Indre 46°56′20″N 1°26′08″E / 46.93889°N 1.43556°E / 46.93889; 1.43556 (Château d'Argy)  
Azay-le-Ferron Azay-le-Ferron Indre 46°51′04″N 1°04′12″E / 46.85111°N 1.07000°E / 46.85111; 1.07000 (Château d'Azay-le-Ferron)  
Baugé Baugé Maine-et-Loire 47°32′29″N 0°06′07″E / 47.54139°N 0.10194°E / 47.54139; 0.10194 (Château de Baugé)  
Beaugency Beaugency Loiret 47°46′45″N 1°37′57″E / 47.77917°N 1.63250°E / 47.77917; 1.63250 (Château de Beaugency)  
Boisgibault Ardon Loiret 47°47′18″N 1°52′00″E / 47.78833°N 1.86667°E / 47.78833; 1.86667 (Château de Boisgibault)  
Boumois Saint-Martin-de-la-Place Maine-et-Loire 47°18′30″N 0°07′48″W / 47.30833°N 0.13000°W / 47.30833; -0.13000 (Château de Boumois)
Briare Briare Loiret 47°38′22″N 2°44′27″E / 47.63944°N 2.74083°E / 47.63944; 2.74083 (Château de Briare)  
Candé Monts Indre-et-Loire 47°17′49″N 0°39′56″E / 47.29694°N 0.66556°E / 47.29694; 0.66556 (Château de Candé)  
Chamerolles Chilleurs-aux-Bois Loiret 48°03′37″N 2°09′51″E / 48.06028°N 2.16417°E / 48.06028; 2.16417 (Château de Chamerolles)

 

Châteauneuf-sur-Loire Châteauneuf-sur-Loire Loiret 47°51′51″N 2°13′00″E / 47.86417°N 2.21667°E / 47.86417; 2.21667 (Château de Châteauneuf-sur-Loire)  
Chémery Chémery Loir-et-Cher 47°20′43″N 1°28′48″E / 47.34528°N 1.48000°E / 47.34528; 1.48000 (Château de Chémery)  
Chissay Chissay-en-Touraine Loir-et-Cher 47°20′13″N 1°08′11″E / 47.33694°N 1.13639°E / 47.33694; 1.13639 (Château de Chissay)  
Courtalain Courtalain Eure-et-Loir 48°04′49″N 1°08′11″E / 48.08028°N 1.13639°E / 48.08028; 1.13639 (Château de Courtalain)  
Fougères-sur-Bièvre Fougères-sur-Bièvre Loir-et-Cher 47°26′52″N 1°20′37″E / 47.44778°N 1.34361°E / 47.44778; 1.34361 (Château de Fougères-sur-Bièvre)  
Gaillard Amboise Indre-et-Loire 47°24′47″N 0°59′09″E / 47.41306°N 0.98583°E / 47.41306; 0.98583 (Château-Gaillard)  
Gien Gien Loiret 47°41′06″N 2°37′54″E / 47.68500°N 2.63167°E / 47.68500; 2.63167 (Château de Gien)  
Gizeux Gizeux Indre-et-Loire 47°23′26″N 0°12′22″E / 47.39056°N 0.20611°E / 47.39056; 0.20611 (Château de Gizeux)  
Goulaine Haute-Goulaine Loire-Atlantique 47°12′15″N 1°24′10″W / 47.20417°N 1.40278°W / 47.20417; -1.40278 (Château de Goulaine)  
Gué-Péan Monthou-sur-Cher Loir-et-Cher 47°21′00″N 1°19′07″E / 47.35000°N 1.31861°E / 47.35000; 1.31861 (Château du Gué-Péan)  
La Bourdaisière Montlouis-sur-Loire Indre-et-Loire 47°22′11″N 0°50′19″E / 47.36972°N 0.83861°E / 47.36972; 0.83861 (Château de La Bourdaisière)  
La Bussière La Bussière Loiret 47°44′50″N 2°44′52″E / 47.74722°N 2.74778°E / 47.74722; 2.74778 (Château de La Bussière)  
La Farinière Cinq-Mars-la-Pile Indre-et-Loire 47°21′08″N 0°28′29″E / 47.35222°N 0.47472°E / 47.35222; 0.47472 (Château de La Farinière)  
La Ferté-Saint-Aubin La Ferté-Saint-Aubin Loiret 47°43′35″N 1°56′36″E / 47.72639°N 1.94333°E / 47.72639; 1.94333 (Château de La Ferté-Saint-Aubin)  
La Possonnière Couture-sur-Loir Loir-et-Cher 47°44′48″N 0°41′32″E / 47.74667°N 0.69222°E / 47.74667; 0.69222 (Château de La Possonnière)  
Lavardin Lavardin Loir-et-Cher 47°44′28″N 0°53′01″E / 47.74111°N 0.88361°E / 47.74111; 0.88361 (Château de Lavardin)  
Le Lude Le Lude Sarthe 47°38′45″N 0°09′14″E / 47.64583°N 0.15389°E / 47.64583; 0.15389 (Château du Lude)  
Le Moulin Lassay-sur-Croisne Loir-et-Cher 47°22′09″N 1°36′34″E / 47.36917°N 1.60944°E / 47.36917; 1.60944 (Château du Moulin)  |
Nevers Nevers Nièvre 46°59′18″N 3°09′30″E / 46.98833°N 3.15833°E / 46.98833; 3.15833 (Palais ducal de Nevers)  
Le Plessis-Bourré Écuillé Maine-et-Loire 47°36′3″N 0°32′40″W / 47.60083°N 0.54444°W / 47.60083; -0.54444 (Château du Plessis-Bourré)  
Le Rivau Lemere Indre-et-Loire 47°06′25″N 0°19′34″E / 47.10694°N 0.32611°E / 47.10694; 0.32611 (Château du Rivau)  
Le Roujoux Fresnes Loir-et-Cher 47°26′01″N 1°24′03″E / 47.43361°N 1.40083°E / 47.43361; 1.40083 (Château du Roujoux)
Les Réaux Chouzé-sur-Loire Indre-et-Loire 47°14′54″N 0°8′52″E / 47.24833°N 0.14778°E / 47.24833; 0.14778 (Château des Réaux)  
Luynes Luynes Indre-et-Loire 47°23′28″N 0°33′19″E / 47.39111°N 0.55528°E / 47.39111; 0.55528 (Château de Luynes)  
Menars Menars Loir-et-Cher 47°38′36″N 1°24′34″E / 47.64333°N 1.40944°E / 47.64333; 1.40944 (Château de Menars)  
Meung-sur-Loire Meung-sur-Loire Loiret 47°49′26″N 1°41′41″E / 47.82389°N 1.69472°E / 47.82389; 1.69472 (Château de Meung-sur-Loire)  
Montgeoffroy Mazé Maine-et-Loire 47°28′08″N 0°16′35″W / 47.46889°N 0.27639°W / 47.46889; -0.27639 (Château de Montgeoffroy)  
Montigny-le-Gannelon Montigny-le-Gannelon Eure-et-Loir 48°00′54″N 1°14′07″E / 48.01500°N 1.23528°E / 48.01500; 1.23528 (Château de Montigny-le-Gannelon)  
Montpoupon Céré-la-Ronde Indre-et-Loire 47°15′11″N 1°8′28″E / 47.25306°N 1.14111°E / 47.25306; 1.14111 (Château de Montpoupon)  
Montrésor Montrésor Indre-et-Loire 47°9′21″N 1°12′35″E / 47.15583°N 1.20972°E / 47.15583; 1.20972 (Château de Montrésor)  
Montreuil-Bellay Montreuil-Bellay Maine-et-Loire 47°07′58″N 00°09′14″W / 47.13278°N 0.15389°W / 47.13278; -0.15389 (Château de Montreuil-Bellay)  
Montrichard Montrichard Loir-et-Cher 47°20′37″N 1°11′10″E / 47.34361°N 1.18611°E / 47.34361; 1.18611 (Château de Montrichard)  
Saché Saché Indre-et-Loire 47°14′45″N 0°32′41″E / 47.24583°N 0.54472°E / 47.24583; 0.54472 (Château de Saché)  
Saint-Aignan Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher Loir-et-Cher 47°16′10″N 1°22′30″E / 47.26944°N 1.37500°E / 47.26944; 1.37500 (Château de Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher)  
Saint-Brisson Saint-Brisson-sur-Loire Loiret 47°39′00″N 2°40′56″E / 47.65000°N 2.68222°E / 47.65000; 2.68222 (Château de Saint-Brisson)
Selles-sur-Cher Selles-sur-Cher Loir-et-Cher 47°16′29″N 1°32′58″E / 47.27472°N 1.54944°E / 47.27472; 1.54944 (Château de Selles-sur-Cher)  
Serrant Saint-Georges-sur-Loire Maine-et-Loire 47°24′54″N 0°44′40″W / 47.41500°N 0.74444°W / 47.41500; -0.74444 (Château de Serrant)  
Talcy Talcy Loir-et-Cher 47°46′11″N 1°26′39″E / 47.76972°N 1.44417°E / 47.76972; 1.44417 (Château de Talcy)  
Troussay Cheverny Loir-et-Cher 47°29′29″N 1°25′29″E / 47.49139°N 1.42472°E / 47.49139; 1.42472 (Château de Troussay)  
Valmer Chançay Indre-et-Loire 47°27′32″N 0°53′14″E / 47.45889°N 0.88722°E / 47.45889; 0.88722 (Château de Valmer)  
Vendôme Vendôme Loir-et-Cher 47°47′21″N 1°03′55″E / 47.78917°N 1.06528°E / 47.78917; 1.06528 (Château de Vendôme)
Villesavin Tour-en-Sologne Loir-et-Cher 47°32′48″N 1°30′51″E / 47.54667°N 1.51417°E / 47.54667; 1.51417 (Château de Villesavin)  
Châteaux of the Loire Valley

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ The Loire Valley: A Phaidon Cultural Guide. New York: Prentice Hall Press. 1986.
  2. ^ https://nuvomagazine.com/travel/a-guide-to-chateaux-gardens-of-the-loire-valley
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Peregrine, Anthony (21 May 2014). "The best chateaux of the Loire Valley, France". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b Lounes, Allison (4 December 2012). "Chateaux spectacular: 5 best Loire Valley castles | CNN Travel". CNN. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  5. ^ Gleadell, Colin (23 June 2015). "Largest Collection of Radical Conceptualists ART & LANGUAGE Finds a Home in French Chateau | artnet news". artnet. Retrieved 24 April 2018.

External linksEdit