See Dozens of Fascinating Castles on Canal Holidays on the River Loire4 min read
If you need inspiration for where to book your next France canal boat holidays then why not choose the River Loire? A tour down here is packed with so many things to see and do – not least the dozens of castles waiting to be explored!
Indeed, there are so many castles to be found in the vicinity of this waterway it is quite staggering. While some date back to medieval times and a few are more recent, others show off classic French Gothic design, while many look as though they have been lifted from the pages of a storybook.
Whatever style most appeals to you, it can certainly be found somewhere close to where you will be cruising.
One of the most interesting is the Chateau de Blois, which can be found between Tours and Orleans.
Blois is one of the oldest cities in the entire country so it should come as no surprise that its castle is a popular tourist attraction.
Rather than being one single structure, the Chateau de Blois is made up of several properties and boasts well over 500 rooms – so it could take you quite some time to see it all.
Many of France’s rulers have lived or stayed here at some point, including Louis XII. In addition, it was here that Joan of Arc was blessed before leading her followers into battle against the English in the 15th century.
Built around a central courtyard, the renaissance style of the structure is sure to take your breath away, while you may also enjoy viewing it from the bridge over the river that was built during the 18th century.
Make sure you check out the chateau’s chambre de secrets, which is believed to be the hideaway where Catherine de’ Medici – mother of three of the Kings of France – kept her bottles of poison, although in reality it was probably a place where valuables were put on display.
Another worthwhile stop if you have a passion for history is the Chateau at Amboise. Overlooking the river you have been travelling down, the building was seized from its owner Louis d’Amboise in the 15th century by King Charles VII, who decided to make it his own.
The palace was a firm favourite with the French ruler and the later Charles VIII, who had extensions built that demonstrate both the gothic style and Italian renaissance trademarks.
Leonardo da Vinci is also believed to have stayed nearby and some think he is buried beneath the chapel in the chateau’s grounds.
Just a few miles away from Amboise lies the manor house of Chateau Chenonceau. While it is on the River Cher rather than the Loire, it is still certainly worth making a detour for.
In fact, some of the building is quite literally situated on the river, as Diane de Poitiers – who lived there after receiving it as a gift from Henry II – had an arched bridge built from the manor to the opposite side of the river to link the two halves together.
This castle looks like something straight from the pages of a storybook and if buildings that inspired fairytales appeal to you, then why not also check out Chateau d’Usse in Rigny-Usse?
The building really does look as though it was once the home of Sleeping Beauty and, indeed, it is rumoured that it was a direct inspiration for some of Walt Disney’s castles in his early films, after he saw it on a poster.
However, if you are more interested in seeing some pristine examples of classic French architecture, then head to Chateau de Chambord. A near-perfect example of the renaissance style, there are also acres of landscaped gardens to stroll around here.
And when you take the staircase inside, keep in mind that some believe it to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
However, you have only just begun your tour of castles in the Loire Valley – part of which is itself a Unesco World Heritage site.
Here are literally dozens of others for you to explore – which may prompt you to book canal boat holidays in this part of the country again in the future.
Of course, part of the attraction of coming here is the wide variety of things to see and do, whether it is stopping off at the famous Roman city of Nevers’, sampling some locally-produced wine or enjoying the acclaimed goats’ cheese.
When you take a cruise down the River Loire, you will certainly be kept busy!