Route of the castles of France

Image of the castle of Chambord

Chambord castle

The route of the castles of France is one of those trips that every fan of history and monuments must do at least once in their life. Also known as route through the castles of the Loire By following the banks of that river, specifically between the towns of Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes-sur-Loire, separated by about three hundred and twenty kilometers, this area includes several dozen marvelous castles.

If you want to visit it, you will find it south of Paris and we are going to show you some of the most beautiful buildings. They were built in a period spanning from the late Middle Ages to the Renaissance and served as occasional residence for many of the kings of France. Currently, they are in a magnificent state of conservation. For all these reasons, the route has been declared Heritage by UNESCO. Let's start our journey.

Emblematic castles of the Loire Valley

We will begin our route of the castles of France, starting precisely with that of Sully-sur Loire. However, the route can be extended further and go as far as St Brisson, further southeast of the first town and also has a beautiful fortress.

Castle of Sully-sur-Loire

Its construction began in 1218 by order of King Felipe II, although it was extended until the XNUMXth century. If you visit it, you will see a rectangular building with four circular towers and two more in its southern part. Likewise, it is surrounded by a park through which several navigable channels run. Throughout its history, it had two illustrious refugees: King Louis XIV in 1652 and the writer Voltaire in 1715.

View of the castle of Bois

Castle of Bois

Chambord castle

Is bigger of all those who make up the route of the castles of France. It was built in the XNUMXth century and responds to the canons of the Gallic Renaissance, which in turn combines traditional forms of the Middle Ages with Italian classicism. The architect was Domenico da Cortona, although legend has it that he participated in its design Leonardo da Vinci, who lived in it for the last three years of his life.

It also has a rectangular plan and is flanked by eight impressive towers. In its central part, there is a double helix ladder It features sculpted decoration. This, in turn, is considered one of the Renaissance masterpieces in France. Likewise, an immense forest of more than fifty square kilometers surrounds the castle.

Castle of Blois

In its current form it was ordered to be built by the King Louis XII as a residence for his court. A tradition that other monarchs of the Renaissance period followed. Likewise, before visiting him, you should know that in his chapel he was blessed Joan of Arc before marching to end the siege of Orleans.

In this castle there are three wings. The oldest is the so-called Louis XII, a building marvel in the Gothic style. As for that of Francisco I, it responds to the Italian style, and that of Gastón de Orleans includes elements of classical Greek architecture with its Ionic, Doric and Corinthian orders.

View of the castle of Amboise

Amboise castle

Amboise castle

It is located east of Tours and its origins date back to the normans, although it received its current appearance in the XNUMXth century. Different wings are also distinguished on it. The most important are that of Charles VIII, in the late Gothic style, and that of Louis XII, which responds to the canons of the Renaissance.

El King Francis I He spent his childhood there and houses the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci. You will find it in the chapel of St. Hubert, a building annexed to the castle. Also external are two colossal towers with covered ramps that allow access to the central courtyard from the banks of the Loire.

Villandry Castle

We continue our route of the castles of France through that of Villandry. Its construction ended in 1536, being the last palace in renaissance style which was built in the Loire Valley. However, previously there was a fortress in the same place of which a tower is preserved and in which Felipe II of France negotiated peace with the British Richard the Lionheart.

If the view of the castle will be spectacular, it will be even more so if you walk through its gardens. They are spread over a colossal area that includes four huge terraces, each one of which houses several sub-gardens.

View of the castle of Villandry

Villandry Castle

Castle of Saumur

Located on the site of an old XNUMXth century fortress, the current castle was built two hundred years later by order of Henry of Plantagenet, who was King of England, but also Lord of Britain.
In the XNUMXth century it was surrounded by a majestic fortress made up of four towers linked by walls. Also four towers surround its main body. And one of its entrances is accessed through a spectacular stone staircase. If you visit this castle, it will seem like you are in a fairy tale. Also, if you are in Saumur and you like military themes, you can take the opportunity to visit the Armored Museum, with one of the most important tank samples in the world.

Gastronomy of the Loire Valley

This region is known as "The garden of France" for its wide agricultural extensions that produce magnificent fruits and vegetables. Cheeses such as Curé Nantais or Olivet Centré, meat and fish such as eel or lamprey also stand out in the area to complete an extraordinary gastronomic offer.

Some typical dishes that you must try in the Loire Valley are the saffron asparagus cream; The grilled walleye, served with a garnish of vegetables or with beurre blanc sauce (white butter) and the Touraine hen with cagarrias (a very appreciated type of mushroom) to white wine.

Photo of the castle of Saumur

Castle of Saumur

As for the desserts, the delicious cake of Nantes, which has eggs, flour, almonds, sugar and dark rum; the Tarte Tatin or apple and the Anjou plum cake, a dough filled with this fruit.

And, to finish your meal, you can taste some of the typical liquors and spirits of this valley such as Cointreau, made with orange peel; the Menthe Pastille, made with mint, or the pear brandy.

How to explore the Loire Valley

You can make your tour of the Loire Valley by car. To do this, the best route is to follow the motorway A85, although to see some castles you will have to detour. But you can also choose the railway, since there is a line that runs through the area. You can even combine the latter with the bike, since you can upload it to the convoys.

In conclusion, the route through the castles of France is a true wonder. If you want to immerse yourself in the medieval and Renaissance past of the neighboring country, go packing.

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