My sister and I decided to go on a tour of the Loire Valley, in which we visited three chateaus. We arrived at our departure point at 7:00 am, registered, and got onto our air-conditioned travel bus. Unfortunately, my sister had purchased coffee right before we got onto the bus, and the tour guide refused to let her on because of the ‘strong smell which might upset other passengers’. I was confused, and she was annoyed that she just wasted 3 euro. Not a great start since we were both very tired and cranky. Luckily, it took between an hour and two hours to reach our first chateau, which meant a lot of napping time!
Epic View. According to our tour guide, the actual acreage of the property is equivalent to all of Paris.
One of my favorite stories of the Chateau Chambord is the reasoning behind salamanders being placed throughout the castle. Supposedly salamanders are the only animal that do not fear fire and will run through the flames without ever getting burned. King Francois I connected with the salamander since he had many mistresses throughout his life, but was never ‘burned’ by love. Good for you Francois! You go Francois! (Mean girls reference anyone?)
Welcome to a fairy tale.
I could not stop thinking that this was the exact replica of the castle in Sleeping Beauty!
The chateau was along Lake Cher and it was surrounded by many different gardens. If you have the time, you can even rent a small boat for an hour as you canoe through the castle!
I was also able to sneak into the town across from the chateau which was small and very cute.
The most interesting part of this chateau is that the family who owns it still lives in it– A few years ago, a wing was closed so that one of the family members could live there during the summer while tours continued throughout the rest of the chateau!
The craziest part about the chateau is how blatant the wealth disparities were. These families were disgustingly rich. Though they don’t compete with current standards, I was still blown away by all that they had. Most of these chateaus were also rarely ever used. For Chambord, King Francois only stayed 70 days out of his 40 year long reign. When the kings did arrive, they usually brought ALL of their furniture with them, as well as 5,000 people in the chateau including servants, the court, and the royal family.
Did I mention the family has hunting hounds? You’re not supposed to touch them because they love ‘fresh meat’, but they still looked more adorable than vicious..
Not to mention they had a garden that was far superior to an average family..
And a beautiful garden with a variety of delicious looking vegetables..
A few notes:
- Our tour guide was phenomenal and provided a wealth of information for us, however we felt very rushed throughout the tours since we only had X amount of time to see everything and get back on the bus to continue on to the next chateau.
- Lunch was not provided (though if you book the tour during the winter, it is!). I recommend packing your own lunch and/or snacks.
- Full 12 hours of travel.
We booked the trip through Viator and it was truly magical. I felt like a Disney Princess and would recommend anyone to do it. Also, if you have a car and like to camp, you can also drive through the Loire Valley and pay to stay on the camping grounds at night in between trips to different chateaus. Here’s a link for any who are interested: Loire Valley Viator Tours