Chateau de Blois

The castle at Blois positively oozes with history. Not only was it an important residence for French kings during the 16th century, but it was also the castle where Joan of Arc was blessed before setting off to defeat the English at Orléans, the turning point in the Hundred Years War.

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Chateau de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord, in the Loire Valley, is instantly recognisable, because of its very individual architectural design, and its imposing size and presence - even among the many splendid chateau of the region it stands out as more grandiose. Yet the great irony of Chambord is that it was constructed as a 'stopover' - a hunting lodge for King Francois I and his entourage when hunting in the region, not as a full-time royal residence.

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Chateau de Chaumont

Chaumont was constructed from 1465 on on the site of a much older 10th century fortress castle, that had been burned down by Louis XI in a reprisal for the actions of its owner Pierre d'Amboise - he had been involved in the anti-Royal revolt known as the 'Ligue du bien public'. After Pierre had his properties reinstated he started (and his son completed) the construction of the current chateau.

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Chateau de Chenonceau

Like so many other castles, Chenonceau was built on the site of an earlier property - in fact two earlier properties stood here. A manor house that was burned to the ground in 1411 was followed by a fortified castle, but that too was destroyed to make way for the chateau we currently see, built between 1515 and 1521 by Thomas Bohier, overseen by his wife Katherine Briconnet.

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Chateau du Lude

Château du Lude is a beautiful château on the banks of the Loir. The original medieval fortress, built to defend Anjou, has been added to over the centuries and now each facade is an example of a different era of French architecture. The chateau is one of the first you come to when arriving at the Loire valley from the north.

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Chateau de Langeais

Chateau Langeais is poised above the Loire River 20km to the west of Tours. Its 10th century origins make it one of the oldest chateaux in the Loire Valley. Much expanded during the following century, Langeais suffered very badly during the Hundred Years War and there is little to see of the original structure apart from some ruins of the original keep in the gardens at the castle.

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Chateau de Montreuil-Bellay

Montreuil-Bellay was constructed at the start of the 11th century on the site of an ancient Roman village. Unusually for castles in the Loire Valley, the chateau was constructed with a defensive purpose. The first construction was undertaken by the 'Black Falcon' a follower of the then King of France, Hugh Capet.

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Chateau de Plessis-Bourré

In a romantic setting north of Angers, the castle at Plessis-Bourre is one of the most impressive in the Loire Valley

It was built during the period 1468-1473 by Jean Bourré, confident and financial advisor to King Louis XI, on the site of an earlier castle, and retains much of the original character.

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Chateau de Saumur

The castle we now see in Saumur was constructed by Henry II, King of England, towards the end of the 12th century. It stands in the same location as a chateau constructed in the 10th century (and destroyed in battle in the 13th) - an enviable raised position above the confluence of the River Loire and River Thouet.

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Chateau de Tiffauges

The castle at Tiffauges is best known for Gille de Rais, the lord of the castle during the middle of the 15th century who later became known as Bluebeard - hence Bluebeard's Castle.

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Chateau d'Ussé

To the west of Azay-le-Rideau is another lovely castle at Ussé, in the pretty surroundings of the Chinon forest.

It was constructed in the 15th century on the site of an earlier 11th century defensive castle, and then further extensively modified in the 17th century. It was at this stage that any defensive abilities were definitively lost, as the northern side was cleared away to open up the fine views across the terraces and river.

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Chateau de Villandry

It was at this location that Richard the Lionheart met with Philip II of France for a 'peace summit'. The 12th century castle where the meeting took place is however almost completely submerged within the later castle, built for Jean le Breton in the early 16th century. The tower is the only remnant of the original building.

The castle as we now see it was not built for defensive purposes but for style and as a luxury residence.

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Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau

Constructed in the first part of the 16th century in a lovely setting on an island in the River Indre, the castle at Azay-le-Rideau was one of the first of many Renaissance chateaux to be constructed in the Loire Valley. The river is usually still and mirror-like at this point, adding a great deal to the beauty of the location.

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Chateau d'Angers

The original fortress at Angers was constructed because of the strategic position next to the Maine River, in a position that was earlier occupied by the Romans for the same reason.

Much of the current chateau was constructed in the early 13th century, between 1230 and 1240, by Saint Luois after his grandfather Philip II had captured the region from the English. For the following centuries it remained an important castle as base for the Angevin Kings.

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Chateau d'Amboise

The castle at Amboise was originally built for the strategic view it provided over the Loire River at an important crossing point - at that stage a ford, although there is now a bridge.

Constructed in the 11th century by the Count of Anjou, the chateau that we now see is a substantially modified building, having been converted a defensive castle to one which was comfortable to live in. The first great wave of changes came in the 15th century after the chateau was seized by Charles VII.

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