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Overview

About 120 miles (193 km) southwest of Paris stretches the "green heart of France," the breathtakingly beautiful Loire Valley. The towns of this area read like Joan of Arc's battle register - Orléans, Blois, Tours, Chinon. Every hilltop has a castle or palace, the Loire winds like a silver ribbon, and the walled cities cluster around medieval churches. Try to take in the following châteaux, beginning with the Loire town of Amboise. This is where the great Leonardo da Vinci died at Clos-Luce, a brick manor house of the 15th century. Its Château d'Amboise was the seat of François I, the Cavalier king. The "dames of ...

About 120 miles (193 km) southwest of Paris stretches the "green heart of France," the breathtakingly beautiful Loire Valley. The towns of this area read like Joan of Arc's battle register - Orléans, Blois, Tours, Chinon. Every hilltop has a castle or palace, the Loire winds like a silver ribbon, and the walled cities cluster around medieval churches. Try to take in the following châteaux, beginning with the Loire town of Amboise. This is where the great Leonardo da Vinci died at Clos-Luce, a brick manor house of the 15th century. Its Château d'Amboise was the seat of François I, the Cavalier king. The "dames of Chenonceaux" are linked to the Renaissance château, Chenonceaux, none more colorful than Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henri II. Blois is like a picture book illustration of French architecture with buildings going back to the 13th century. A private residence of Renaissance France, Azay-Le-Rideau is graced with its machicolated towers and a moat filled with white swans. The largest château in the Loire Valley, Chambord represents the zenith of the French Renaissance.

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About the Expert

Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince have written many guidebooks for Frommer's, including Frommer's France and Frommer's Germany.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Includes historic towns such as Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Nantes, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours, but in particular for its world-famous castles, such as the Châteaux d'Amboise, Château de Villandry and Chenonceau.Central part of the Loir
  • Language: French
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Late spring, summer, September to October