From Villandry to Ussé, the castles are each more beautiful than the last, all with their unique characteristics, making them an essential part of any visit to the Loire Valley. From the extraordinary gardens of the Château de Villandry to the castle of Sleeping Beauty, everything here is intended to amaze.
"Le Potager", 37510 Villandry
Website - tel : 02 47 50 12 66.
Open from March to October:
March and October, Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 12.30 pm / 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
April to August, daily: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m./ 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Closed on Sundays in April.
Château de Villandry
3 rue Principale, 37510 Villandry
Website - tel : 02 47 50 02 09.
Price for the castle and garden: full / reduced price: €10.50 / €6.50. Audio guide in 5 languages : €4
Gardens: November through February : 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ; March: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ; April, May, June and September : 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ; July and August : 9 a.m. to 7:30 p. m. ; October: 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Castle: open from February through October, February and March : 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ; April, May, June, September and October : 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ; July and August : 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Restaurant on site (see "Eating").
The Château de Villandry was one of the last Renaissance castles to be built in the Loire Valley. It was Jean le Breton, Minister of Finance under François I, who had it built in 1532. With his experience on several projects including the Château de Chambord, he built Villandry on an ancient feudal fortress, three buildings of understated elegance and exceptional architectural harmony. The castle was refurbished and restored in the 18th century by the Marquis de Castellane. He was responsible for the Louis XV staircase and dining room.
But what makes the Château de Villandry especially exceptional are its beautiful gardens, spread over four levels: the vegetable garden, the water garden, the herb garden, the maze of hedges, the sun garden ... The ensemble, though varied, reveals an impressive landscaped harmony.
At the time of the construction of the castle, the beautiful and decorative vegetable garden already existed. Then over the centuries and different owners, the physiognomy of the gardens was greatly changed. During the restoration of the castle in the 18th century, the Marquis de Castellane took the opportunity to restructure the French gardens (water mirror, flowerbed, orangery).
The Carvallo family, current owner of the castle since the early 20th century, wanted to return the gardens to their original appearance for an ideal architectural and stylistic consistency between the castle and its park. Since 2009, the gardens of Villandry have been managed organically, and in particular the vegetable garden.
With the family
The circuit "The Hex of Jean Le Breton" (only in French)
This fun course is suitable for families and children aged 7 to 12 years old. Accompanied by the ghost of Jean le Breton, families look deep into the different eras of the castle to solve the puzzles.
Game booklet available at the reception desk.
The hedge maze, its puzzles and the children's garden
This natural labyrinth is dotted with puzzles to solve. For the whole family. In the immediate vicinity is the children's garden, which is part of the sun garden. This garden, consisting of eight interpretive stations, helps children better understand the plants and gardens, as well as the evolution of the site over the centuries.
Grottes des Savonnières
61 route des Grottes Pétrifiantes, 37510 Savonnières
Website - 02 47 50 00 09.
Full price / reduced price: €7.40 / €6.40 / 5 to 16 years old : €5.30 . Free for children under 5 years old.
February and March: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
April through June and September: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
July and August: 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
October and November: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Guided tours in French. Tour documents available in 5 languages. Boutique.
Two minutes from the Château de Villandry, these caves were carved into the limestone in the Middle Ages, when it served as a mining quarry. Then over the centuries, water and erosion formed many spectacular concretions (stalactites, stalagmites, draperies).
L’Etape Gourmande – local cuisine
La Giraudière, 37510 Villandry
Website - Tel : 02 47 50 08 60.
"Formule" from €18.80. "Menu" from €33.70.
La Doulce Terrasse, restaurant of the Château de Villandry
1 Rue Principale, 37510 Villandry
Website - tel : 02 47 50 02 10.
"Menu" from €16.
19 rue Thiers, 37130 Langeais
Website - tel : 02 47 96 58 22.
April through June and September, Monday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ; Sundays and holidays: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ;
July and August, Monday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ; Sundays and holidays: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ; October through March, Tuesday to Saturday : 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ; November 1st and 11th : 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Accessible to those with disabilities. Hiking itineraries offered by the Tourist Office.
Market on Sunday morning, Place de l’Europe.
Château de Langeais
Place Pierre de Brosse, 37130 Langeais
Website - tel : 02 47 96 72 60.
Full price / reduced price: €9 / €7.50 / 10 to 17 years old: €5. Free for children under 10 years old.
Open daily :
November through January : 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ; February and March : 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ; April through June : 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ; July and August : 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ; September and October : 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Guided tour possible. Thematic activities. Workshops for children. Temporary exhibitions
The sober, even austere, facade, of the Château de Langeais contrasts with the refinement of its interior apartments. At the end of the 10th century the first castle was built on the site by Foulques Nerra. Only the dungeon remains of this first building. Over the following centuries, the castle changed hands several times and became part of the French royal domain in 1206. In the 15th century, Louis XI built a new castle in 1468 but work stopped because of the conflict between Louis XI and the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold. In 1491, the Château de Langeais hosted the marriage of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany.
Starting from the next century, the castle was not maintained. It was only during the second half of the 19th century that restoration work was undertaken. Furniture was also acquired to refurnish and restore the noble environment of the 15th century. Since the early 20th century the castle has been the property of the Institute of France.
Visitors discover decorated rooms each more sumptuous than the other (furniture, tapestries and objets d'art ...), in the spirit of the 15th century. There is a cozy atmosphere in the rooms and a certain splendor in the large reception rooms. In over 15 rooms open to the public, visitors will also discover daily life in the Middle Ages as well as a major historical event in the history of France, the marriage of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany, reconstituted with realistic wax figures.
At the end of the visit, do not miss the park (for the whole family). A marked circuit and booklet guides visitors from the playground huts, to a reconstitution of the site oldest dungeon in the country, to a gazebo overlooking the Loire with a beautiful panoramic view.
For children (only in French) :
Tour with Anne of Brittany (7 to 12 years old)
Anne of Brittany, wife of King Charles VII, reveals her daily life and customs of her court.
Game booklet " (7 to 12 years old)
A wedding is preparing at the castle" . Free.
In the surrounding area
The Gallo-Roman tower of Cinq Mars La Pile
This 30-meter high tower dates back to the 2nd century. A curious brick construction, it was probably a funerary monument.
Cruises on the Loire
Pont de Langeais, 37190 Langeais
Website - tel : 06 78 39 93 02.
Embark with a guide of the Loire on board a traditional boat (La Ritournelle or L’Ammocète) for a guided tour (1h or 2h).
Loire Vélo Nature
7 rue des déportés, 37130 Brehemont
Website - tel : 06 03 89 23 14.
Also offers canoe and donkey rental …
The Paradise point of view in Langeais
Panoramic view of the city of Langeais, its 10th century church, its castle and dungeon from the year 1000.
The Belvédère Saint Michel Sur Loire
The belvedere near the church of Saint Michel sur Loire offers a splendid view over the Loire Valley. Orientation table.
Restaurant Au Coin des Halles – inventive cuisine
9 Rue Gambetta, 37130 Langeais
Website - tel : 02 47 96 37 25
"Lunch formule" from €16.50. "Menu" from €32.
In the surrounding area
Hôtel Château de Rochecotte ****
43 Rue Dorothée de Dino, 37130 Saint-Patrice
Website - tel : 02 47 96 16 16.
Price from €153.
Azay le Rideau
Azay le Rideau (37190)
4 rue du Château, 37190 Azay-le-Rideau
Website - 02 47 45 44 40.
July and August, Monday to Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p;m./ 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Sundays and holidays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
April, May, June and September, Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m./ 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
October to March, Monday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to noon/ 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sundays.
The Tourist Office offers a booklet of 19 walks for all levels (fee) and 6 bicycle tours.
Saturday mornings : Place de la République
Wednesday mornings : Place des Halles
Château d’Azay le Rideau
- tel : 02 47 45 42 04.
Full price / reduced price: €6.50 / €5.50. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (for non-EU citizens under 18 years old).
Open daily :
October through March : 10 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. ; April, May, June and September : 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ; July and August : 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Self-guided tour with guide booklet in 12 languages.
Guided tours in French (1 hour)
Audio guide (fee) available in 5 languages (1hour and 30 minutes).
Family tours and game booklet for children 7 to 12 years old.
In 1510, Gilles Berthelot acquired the lordship and the castle-fort of Azay. He then undertook the reconstruction of a castle in an architectural style strongly influenced by the Italian Renaissance. Following a dispute with François I, the castle was seized by the king and therefore changed owners several times until it was purchased by the state in 1905.
The facades that face the courtyard are representative of the architectural style of the early Renaissance.
This search for verticality expressed in the facades is also found in the grand staircase of the main castle entrance. Consisting of three floors of balconies, it has a rich Gothic and Renaissance ornamentation.
The tour begins on the 2nd floor by the grand ceiling and its magnificent oak beams from 1522.
On the 1st floor, the Renaissance room still features an original fireplace. On the wall, the painting of Andromache is a reproduction of the one painted by Primatice for François I. Of particular note is the chamber of the master of the house, the great hall that hosted dances and feasts, the huge antechamber, and the king’s room where Louis XIII stayed.
The ground floor is arranged in several reception areas. The Biencourt Room presents a magnificent collection of paintings, portraits and historic photographs. The billiard room is decorated with tapestries from the 18th century around the theme of hunting. The kitchen retains its sink and fireplace from the Renaissance era. The coat of arms of Gilles Berthelot is still barely visible. In the small dining room, the table is set as if visitors were expected for dinner with the marquis.. The tour ends with the library.
The English park was created in 1810, embellished with rare trees from distant countries.
Musée Maurice Dufresne
17 route de Marnay, 37190 Azay-le-Rideau
Website - tel : 02 47 45 36 18.
Full price / reduced price : €10 / €5. Free for children under 10 years old.
Open daily from April to October:
April, September and October: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (9:30 a.m. on April)
May through August : 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Audio guide (fee). Accessible to those with disabilities.
This museum consists of some 3,000 objects, paying tribute to the mechanical heritage between 1850-1950.
Vehicles and machines from the period were patiently preserved and restored by the passionate Maurice Dufresne.
La Vallée Troglodytique des Goupillières
« Les Goupillières », 37190 Azay-le-Rideau
Website - tel : 02 47 96 60 84 .
Full price / reduced price: €6.50 / €5. Free for children under 5 years old
Open every day from April to October :
April to September : 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
October : 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Free guided tours in French. Guide documents in 7 languages. Restaurant on site.
Like many other places on the banks of the Loire, the caves owe their existence to the quarries of tuffeau stone used in the construction of houses, churches and castles. Some of these quarries were transformed into houses, in wine cellars or in attics. The Cave Valley of the Goupillières presents a reconstitution of 3 farms and rural life in the Middle Ages.
The site is ideal for a family visit. Children will have fun with the farm animals or playing in the huts, the castle-fort or in the witch’s house. A discovery booklet plunges children into the world of a 19th century peasant. Booklet free for children 7 to 12 years old.
JC Leprovost Cycles
13 rue Carnot, 37190 Azay-le-Rideau
Tel : 02 47 45 40 94.
Maison des jeunes Club de Loisirs Parc du Sabot
Website - tel : 06 52 78 72 37.
Near the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau
Accommodation and Eating
Hôtel de Biencourt ***
7 Rue Balzac, 37190 Azay-le-Rideau
Website - tel : 02 47 45 20 75.
Price from : d. €72/ tr. €96/ q. €140.
21 route de Vallères, 37190 Azay-le-Rideau
Website - tel : 02 47 45 83 00.
Room from €75.
Restaurant – traditional cuisine
"Lunch formule" : €21. "Menu" from €31.
Restaurant l’Aigle d’Or
10 Avenue Adélaïde Riche, 37190 Azay-le-Rideau
Website - tel : 02 47 45 24 58.
"Lunch formule" (Monday to Friday) : €22. "Menu" from €31.
In the surrounding area
Auberge du XIIe Siècle
1 Rue du Château, 37190 Saché
Tel: 02 47 26 88 77.
"Menu" from €25.
Website - tel : 02 47 95 54 05.
Full price / reduced price : €14 / €4 / Free for children under 8 years old.
Open every day from February through October :
Mid-February, March and October : 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ;
April through September : 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Information sheets are provided in 9 languages. Treasure hunt for children.
Built on the edge of the Chinon forest, strategically overlooking the Indre Valley, this castle a must-see when visiting the Loire Valley. Built in the 15th and 16th century by Jean V de Breuil on the foundations of a fortress of the 11th century, we now know that the site had been occupied since the 6th century.
Each of the owners left his mark, whether by restoration, furniture, decoration ...
Many famous figures stayed at the castle : Chateaubriand, Perrault, Vauban ... And some of the castle’s achievements such as its terraces, the stronghold or the knights’ alleyway are the work of none other than Vauban himself.
Designed by Le Nôtre, landscape of the king, the terraced gardens of the castle are on par with the quality of the surroundings. Just like at Versailles, Le Nôtre created an orangery in 1664.
Today the castle belongs to the Duke of Blacas.
The tower is the only remnant of the 11th century castle that was conserved by Jean V de Breuil. From here it was possible to monitor the surroundings. Legend has it that it was in this dungeon that the story of "Sleeping Beauty" took place (see elsewhere).
The entrance hall is furnished with beautiful Italian Renaissance chests of drawers and a wood carving depicting the angel Saint Michel. The next room, the guardroom, was once the castle entrance. This room houses a fine collection of weapons, Eastern objects and miniature painted ivory objects.
Then the former chapel or Vauba n Room, is characterized by a mixture of styles, whether in room decoration or furniture design. Superb Brussels tapestries representing David and Goliath date from the 16th century. This room features a beautiful, ornate Italian cabinet from the 17th century.
Then the former kitchen, unchanged since the 15th century, showcases magnificent Flemish tapestries from the 17th century and a Gothic chest from the 15th century, the oldest piece of furniture in the castle.
The central gallery is adorned with a fine collection of Flemish tapestries from the 18th century recounting folk life in Flanders at that time.
The grand staircase is the work of François Mansart. Made in the early 17th century, the architect was inspired by Italian achievements of this period (straight staircase, wrought iron railing).
The tour continues through the antechamber, opening onto the king's chamber, equipped in the 17th century. On the wall is a copy of "The Wedding at Cana" by Veronese (the original is in the Louvre). There is also a nice "Boulle" desk and Chinese lacquers from the 16th century.
The castle visit ends with the king's chamber. As in most of the castles of the Loire, a room was always available for a possible visit of the king. It is beautifully decorated. Of note in particular is the silk with Chinese-inspired motifs from factories in Tours (18th century).
Gardens and annexes
Gardens of Ussé are as spectacular as the castle. Designed by Le Nôtre, they were embellished by the families of Valentinay in the late 17th century.
The castle also has caves from the 15th century carved into the tuffeau stone. Today they host scene reconstructions of harvest and winemaking of the time.
The stables host a collection of horse-drawn vehicles.
The chapel of the castle dates from 1520. Known locally as the Notre Dame d'Ussé, it has a spectacular ornate portal. On the medallions, the busts of the 12 Apostles surrounding Christ are visible. It has never been restored and has furniture from its original period : stalls and a ceramic Virgin.
The story of … the sleeping beauty
Upon the birth of their daughter Aurora… The King and Queen invited the twelve fairies that inhabited the nearby forest to a grand banquet. The meal was served in plates made of gold.
When dessert came, the fairies gave little Aurora a gift: beauty, intelligence, fortune and kindness…
Alas, an old wicked fairy appeared, furious for not having been invited. Grinning, she whispered; "I too want to give Aurora a gift! When she turns 15, the princess will prick her finger on a spindle and die." The wicked witch disappeared in a cloud of black smoke.
One of the good fairies in attendance stepped forward and declared: "I cannot undo the witch's spell entirely, but I can lessen it. Aurora will prick herself with a spindle but she won't die. She will sleep of a deep sleep that will last 100 years. She will then be awakened by a Prince."
Little Aurora grew into an increasingly beautiful young woman.
On her 15th birthday, as she was walking about in the castle, she saw an old woman at the top of the grand tower; the woman was spinning yarn using a spindle. Aurora tried to spin the wheel. Alas, she pricked her finger and collapsed unconscious. The old woman disappeared immediately through the fireplace.
The King and Queen tried in vain to awake their daughter and in tears, had her brought onto a large bed. At this instant, the entire castle fell into a deep sleep, the King and Queen, the guards, servants and even the dogs and birds fell deeply asleep… Around the palace a thick forest of bushes and brambles grew.
A hundred years went by...
One day, as a whole century had passed, the tall towers peeking above the forest intrigued a young prince who was hunting in the area. An old peasant walking by explained it was an enchanted castle where a beautiful young lady slept.
The young Prince courageously mounted his horse and headed over to the fortress.
The bushes and brambles opened up as he passed through... When he reached the castle, the young prince found all the inhabitants asleep; it is trembling with emotion that he arrived in the young princess' bedroom.
Smitten by the beautiful young lady's beauty, he kneeled near her and kissed her gently. And as if by a spell... The princess opened her eyes and the entire castle awoke as if nothing had ever happened!
The happy Princess Aurora took the young man to meet her parents. The King and Queen, happy beyond their dreams kissed their daughter and thanked her saviour to whom they gave their daughter's hand.
The wedding took place immediately in the presence of the twelve fairies. The Prince and Aurora lived happily ever after in the beautiful Chateau of Ussé, forever known as Sleeping Beauty's castle.
Source : Château d’Ussé