You have already seen we love travelling with a small camper van…as it is really easy to move around and to “jump” from one castle to another.
But what makes it easier to adjust to such a small living space? Well, there are the stops in the middle of nature, the astonishing views, the games and songs during the road trips.
We have visited inside-out 3 castles on the Loire Valley. Horea, 5 years old, was losing his patience, so we have decided to limit our visits to Château de Chenonceau, Château de Chambord, and Château de Villandry. We had also included on our list some others, but we have seen them only from the outside: Château d’Amboise, Château de Bois.
Loire Valley has around 300 castles, so at each turn you can find a château…which brings to the area a historical allure and you start feeling like you would live in some other times with royalties and knights.
Horea was delighted and fascinated with all the stories and at every castle and region he was asking about battles, knights, arms and he was making his own scenarios: with battles, banquets, king’s life.
Château de Chambord was for all of us the most astonishing one visited from an architectural point of view, but also from a historical one. You can read more about Château de Chambord architecture and history here. I am going to share our experience.
Our first impression was with the WOW effect. We had reached our parking area in the evening (you can find more details about this place on our article: Campsites Review: Loire Valley, France), we were confused if to stay or not, but we have decided to spend the night there so that we could visit the castle first thing in the morning….and I must say it…
IT WAS THE BEST DECISION. Why? Well we had seen the castle during sunset and moonlight which was incredible. To see the wonderful castle reflecting in the water flooded with a mix of red, yellow, and white lights, to hear the owls and see the bats in the night was an amazing, but also scary to a certain extent. And this was the moment when all the stories with battles, hunting, and dances came out.
One of the most beautiful works in the world, Château de Chambord is to architecture what Mona Lisa is to painting. The castle bears the imprint of Leonardo da Vinci in various aspects.
What can you do here? You can visit the interior, the terraces with amazing panoramic view, gardens over the gardens and over the vast forest estate of Chambord, which is the largest wall-enclosed park in Europe (13,450 acres).
The castle tour should start with the audio-visual room where you can find out in multiple languages (French, German, English, Spanish, Italian) the history of the castle, how was it built, interesting facts about its inhabitants, the architecture and the story behind it. It is a 20 minutes video with animated scenes and it is continuously projected on the ground of the donjon. Even Horea had the patience to see it until the end while we were translating him from English to Romanian. He was asking loads of questions and was absorbed by the stories presented in the short film.
You must-see in this castle:
The double-helix staircases: which are fascinating every visitor. Before reading in the touristic brochure that there are double-helix staircases we were wondering what’s going on here as we were seeing people going up and coming down but never meeting while crossing each other.
So, we had learnt that the grand spiral staircase consists of two separate flights of stairs, a true monument
You can try to play this game: you can start the stairs game from one flight, while your kid from the other flight. You will espy each other through numerous loopholes as you ascend or descend without ever meeting. Hide and seek is a wonderful game to play in this scenario.
The furnished apartments on the 1st floor: lodgings of Francois I in the royal wing, 17th & 18th centuries chambers; the vaulted rooms on the 2nd floor
The terraces with marvelous view over the gardens and over the vast forest estate of Chambord, which is the largest wall-enclosed park in Europe (13,450 acres=5,440 hectares)
Château de Chambord - useful information
- address: 41250 Chambord, France
- GPS coordinates: latitude: 47.6160; longitude: 1.5170
Website: Château de Chambord
Michelin stars: 3
Time to spend on site: minimum 2 hours to a whole day
Opening hours: all year round except 1st of January and 25th of December
- 30 March – 27 October: 9am – 6pm
- 28 October – 29 March: 9am – 5pm
Ticket prices as of 2019:
- adults: €13;
- under 18 years old: FREE
- other discounts available; you can check here
Animal friendly: NO; dogs are not accepted inside the castle or gardens.
Guide dogs: for the blind are accepted unreservedly inside the château.
Areas: access to Château, gardens, terraces
Visitor guide: available in multiple languages (including English and Romanian)
Kids friendly: No dedicated area for kids. You can do and present interesting facts and talk about history, knights, and royalties, show them the never-meeting stairs and play hide and sick on them, have a walk in the forests or in the garden.
Parking areas: available campers, caravan, buses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles for an extra-cost (you can read more about the costs here)
- Strollers/prams are available for free at the reception
- Free Wi-Fi on the ground floor and in the château courtyard
- Free of charge lockers for your luggage
- Free of charge toilets
- Reduced Mobility:
- People with reduced mobility may book a wheelchair or a stick free of charge
- Areas accessible to persons with reduced mobility: reception, ticket office, ground floor of the donjon and its rooms, audiovisual rooms, toilets, shop
- Dogs assisting disabled persons are admitted inside the caste
- The digital visit tools have an adapted version and allow access in the rooms of the upper floors
- Digital tools are adapted to hearing impairment
- Audio visual room: the 20 minutes film has subtitle in 5 languages (French, English, German, Spanish, Italian)
- AudioPad and HistoPad are available in French sign language
- By reservation: adapted guided visits with supports/ heritage workshops for school groups.
- Digital tools are adapted to visual impairment
- AudioPad available in French with audio-description
- By reservation: tactile and dis-mountable model of château/thermoforming blueprints
You will love:
- The never meeting staircase experience
- The terraces with marvelous view over the gardens and over the vast forest estate of Chambord, which is the largest wall-enclosed park in Europe (13,450 acres=5,440 hectares surrounded by 32 km stone fence).
- The impressive architecture of the castle
Interesting and funny facts learnt:
- When Francois I has shown the architectural proposal everyone was saying this is impossible to be built and he will never see it accomplished. The reply to this is a life lesson: If we start something just to see the final results, the human kind will never do anything.
- Though the castle is magnificent, it has been mentioned that during Stanislas Leszcynski’s stay (the exiled king of Poland who became Louis IV’s father-in-law) the mosquitoes dominated the domain during summers while the castle was ice-cold during winters…so, not such a pleasant place to live in.
- Access to the castle: it is prohibited to carry on your back your child. This is the first time when I am seeing this sign.
Château de Chambord in numbers from Horea’s book (Les petites explorateurs – Châteaux de la Loire - Michelin)
- 77 staircases
- 156 m of façade
- 282 fireplaces
- 800 carved capitals
I must say I was really impressed by the attention paid to architectural details, to the astonishing views of the castles during sunset, and also by Horea’s interest to learn and know more.
Horea’s opinion: he is still asking to read him the brochure from Chambord and he is fascinated by the exiled king of Poland who (as per Horea’s saying) was through away from his own country. And there is a never ending story about this castle and how the enemies were attacking it. Well, in the end after readings and explanations he was concluding: Chambord was only a home, like our home, where kings and knights, royalties came to enjoy themselves, to hunt, drink, dance, and have some fun.
Also, he got a wonderful book from there: Les petites explorateurs – Châteaux de la Loire- and he is fascinated by all the things he can do in this book. Plus, some extra choices: the knights with the horses from different dynasties.
Now being in the airport, I was asking him again what is his opinion about this castle: well, we have to take all the reading materials and read them over and over again.
Disclaimer: The reviews published on this website are intended solely for the purpose of providing general information and comments, and they are PURELY OUR OPINIONS. We cannot guarantee that these reviews are still accurate at the point of reading, up to date, or free from error.
We all have different ways of being, one may find interesting and appealing the impressive Renaissance elements, while others will join more the history and the nature layout. Personally, I tend to be the latter, while Horea and Bogdi will go deep into history and imaginary battles.
So what we have done is to highlight useful information, but having in mind our own perspectives and experiences. However we strongly recommend that you make full use of internet sources before deciding about your holiday, including other review sites.
With Love and Gratitude, Simina Șerban