Have you ever dreamed to be a princess or a prince and to have a castle? I had…when I was a child all I wanted (now sounds such a big dream, but back then…it was just a dream) was a castle and my beautiful long dresses…and why not a prince on a white horse.
And now I found myself living the dream …a bit different, but with a better scenario..I am not living in a fairy-tale; I am living my life visiting the most impressive castles in France, on the Loire Valley.
The Châteaux of the Loire Valley (French: Châteaux de la Loire) are one of the most impressive human mark on Earth. There are more than 300 châteaux illustrating Renaissance architectural ideals in France.
The Loire Valley is just astonishing. The villages, the castles, the vintage allure you have, the peace and calm you get, the birds song you can hear in the mornings and the wonderful view of the river are working together to offer a breathtaking experience. It is a place where time has stopped and you can live and feel each moment of your life, where there are no such words as hurry and busy, grumpy or nervous. It seems to be the perfect place for a tranquil life.
If before reaching this place I was saying let’s visit as much as we can as we will never come back…well, only after 2 days I can say I want to be back as I love the feelings and the peace it brings into my life. Horea was asking us why we don’t have a house here. To be honest, I am wondering the same…but, also I could live in a minivan camper, without any issues.
The road trip to any of the castles around Loire Valley is breathtaking.
With so many castles around it is very hard to decide which one to explore, but some reading in advance, flyers, small talks with local persons can offer you a glimpse of what you might enjoy. We were looking for experiences which could be great for kids as well, as Horea, 5 years old, can get bored very easy and once he gets into the boring mood well… the visiting is GAME OVER.
We have started our castles adventure with Château de Chenonceau which is spanning the River Cher. It is one of the best-known châteaux of the Loire Valley and I am going to focus more on our experience with this château, not on history or architecture.
The experience of visiting Château de Chenonceau starts with finding the place, arriving there, and parking the van. The Nature is generous, the villages are chic and with a specific French charm, while the parking is impressive and free of charge. It doesn’t matter the size of your vehicle, you will find a place where to park: buses, campers, vans, cars, motorcycles, and bicycles are all welcome.
You can buy your tickets online or on the spot. The online tickets offer you the possibilities to skip the long lines. We had purchased the tickets on the spot as we were visiting the castle NOT in the high season. The price was €14.50 per adult, while kids under 7 years old are not paying the entrance ticket. For more details about tickets check this link.
Before even starting our visit, we were moved by the sign showing empathy for pets. Animals are more than welcome to join you in this visit (see the useful information list for more details at the bottom of the article). Do not leave them in the car as you might find your car windows broken during hot days.
We got our information book with a domain map from the ticketing office , but we have started our visit with the end of the suggested tour in mind: donkey park, just to make sure we keep Horea engaged and interested. There were 5 donkeys and each one of them was having the name displayed.
We have continued our tour with the musical garden, while next was the flower and vegetable garden.
The 16th century farm was interesting and also was having a small lake with different types of ducks, geese, and swans. The Carriage Gallery was a total success for Horea as he was imagining that all carriages were actually for soldiers and knights.
Vintage cars are also a nice attraction, while embracing trees can be a lovely and engaging activity for kids.
The Military Hospital from the castle is a good spot to share historical facts as well as the château itself. I wouldn't have thought that Horea, at 5 years, will ask to tell him more about each room, paintings, pictures, etc.
There are 2 amazing gardens from where you can have a spectacular view over the château: Diane's and Catherine's (interesting story they have) and we have finished our tour with the maze (lots of laugh and perfect time for bonding and playing together). Also, there is a restaurant and a wine cellar.
Even though we have visited Château de Chenonceau in March and we were not able to enJOY its astonishing gardens at maximum (most of the flowers were not blooming) we had other exciting experiences: the huge fireplaces warming the big rooms, the smell of spring flowers which were filling the rooms and the corridors, the peace and calm given by the low numbers of tourists (as compared to high seasons).
Château de Chenonceau - useful information
- address: 37150 CHENONCEAUX
- GPS coordinates: latitude: 47.3249; longitude: 1.07029
Website: Château de Chenonceau
Michelin stars: 3
Time to spend on site: minimum 2 hours to a whole day
Opening hours: every day of the year with different time slots. You can check the schedule here.
Ticket prices as of 2019:
- adults: €14.50;
- children (7-18 years old): €11.50;
- children (under 7 years old): FREE (more here)
Animal friendly: YES; “Chenonceau loves animals”, which are welcome to the estate grounds. Dogs must be kept on leads in the gardens, and small dogs carried in your arms or a satchel for the visit to the château
Guide dogs: for the blind are accepted unreservedly inside the château.
Areas: access to Château, gardens, Dômes Gallery and Cellar, Carriage Gallery
Visitor guide: available in 16 languages
Kids friendly: YES (donkey park, vegetable and flower garden, carriage gallery, animals, maze, 16th century farm, castle itself)
Parking areas: campers, caravan, buses, cars, motorcycles, bicycles free of charge (you cannot camp overnight here)
- 3 Tesla terminals are available free of charge (including a type 2 universal charging terminal)
- Picnic areas: several comfortable and well-equipped picnic areas on site; a covered picnic area by the Green Car Park, and an open picnic area by the entrance to the château
- Free of charge lockers for your luggage
- Free of charge toilets
- People with reduced mobility may book a wheelchair free of charge
- A fitted ramp enables easy access to the château, and a video guided tour helps to visualize each room inside
- The shop, restaurants and toilets are all disabled accessible
- Accessible gardens
I must say I was really impressed by the attention paid to all details so that visitors can have an unforgettable experience. Definitely, I would love to come and see Château de Chenonceau during summer to be able to enJOY at maximum its beautiful flowers and trees.
With Love and Gratitude, Simina Șerban