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Full-Day Loire Valley Castles Day Trip from Paris with Skip-the-Line Tickets to Château de Chambord

Explore the Loire Châteaux and their noble inhabitants
From US$3,215 privately
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Tour Details
10.5 hours
Product Type
  • Château de Langeais
  • Château d'Azay-le-Rideau
  • Château de Chambord
  • Loire Valley
Photos & Highlights
  • Day trip from Paris to Loire Valley
  • Led by an art historian
Tour Description
Spanning nearly 170 miles in France, the Loire Valley alone contains more than 500 châteaux. Flourishing in the time of the Renaissance, the region was inhabited by the likes of Diane de Poitiers, controversial mistress of King Henry II of France, and famed Italian artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, making it historically interwoven with the great kings of France. Seeking to escape the pressures of Paris and enticed by the open lands and forests rich with game, the French kings made the Loire Valley their primary residence until 1589, when King Henry IV eventually moved his court back to Paris. Together, we will explore the Loire Valley through the eyes of the nobles who made the region their home. Over the course of our day trip from Paris to the beautiful Loire Valley, we will explore the elegant châteaux of the French aristocracy and discover the French Renaissance with an art historian.

Loire Valley Tour

Meeting our guide at the station in Paris, we will take the train to Tours, a charming city nestled between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Using our time on the train to gain some valuable insight into the Loire Valley of the Renaissance, we will arrive to join our driver at the train station buoyed by our newfound context on the picturesque region's history. Called the "Garden of France," the region is characterized by its central river—the longest in France, vineyards (a subject of interest for anyone who has taken our Paris Wine Tour and Tasting), asparagus fields, and the stunning châteaux that lure tourists away from France's bustling capital. We'll turn our attention towards the châteaux, which are not only impressive and beautiful architectural feats but serve as a great tool to understanding the area's rich history.

Transforming Medieval Fortresses

While our route may vary depending on private bookings, we typically start with Château de Langeais. This château embodies the social and cultural turning point, marking the moment where the Loire turned from a medieval territory dotted with defensive fortresses, to the epicenter of the French Renaissance with artisans, intellectuals, and ideas imported from Italy. After the initial structure was destroyed during the Hundred Year's War, King Louis XI altered the original building plan to reflect Italy's new architectural ideals—with a French twist, of course. However, Château de Langeais maintains much of its defensive structure, which can be best seen in its dominant towers, blank, machicolation (covered parapet with openings for soldiers to fire upon enemies), and drawbridge entry. Observing this first hybrid between Renaissance architecture and the fortresses of the medieval age forms the foundation for understanding the significant shift.

Transitioning to Decadence

We will then head to the ethereal Château d'Azay-le-Rideau, which demonstrates an influence from the French and Italian styles. This graceful residence exemplifies how French architecture began to distance itself from fortified structures like Château de Langeais. After being razed to the ground during the Hundred Year's War, Azay-le-Rideau was reconstructed in an unusual L-shape plan by the King's Treasurer General Gilles Berthelot.

Château de Chambord

After a break for lunch, we will head west to Château de Chambord, the celebrated castle that is considered a true chef-d'oeuvre of the French Renaissance. Originally built as the hunting lodge, this château perfectly demonstrates the marriage between medieval French style and classical Renaissance form. This architectural feat may be accredited to the project’s several undocumented architects, possibly including da Vinci himself. Passed through the hands of countless kings, dukes, and emperors, we will delve into the triumphant and torrid history of this castle. We will also note the discernible difference between Chambord and Langeais. While the layout is similar to a defensive fortress, with its towers and walls surrounding a keep, Château de Chambord was never intended to act as a defensive structure. Its innovations extend to the interior, which features a double helix staircase that may have been designed by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Take Aways

Each château provides unique insight into the chronological evolution and historical significance of this region. Together, we will reflect upon the architectural elements that characterized the French Renaissance style. Over the course of our walk, we will have seen three excellent examples of royal residences from this period, and will have learned to identify the difference between medieval fortresses and the châteaux of the Renaissance. As our walk comes to a close, we will board the train, traveling from Blois to Paris, leaving the rich beauty of the Loire Valley behind us.


Where will I meet the guide? 
You will meet your guide at the train station in Paris, and travel together by train to Tours, where you will meet the driver. The guide will then accompany you back to Paris by train at the end of the excursion.

Do you buy tickets ahead of time?
We'll buy your train and castle entrance tickets in advance. You're responsible for the cost of lunch.

Could you buy first-class train tickets? 
We normally buy second-class train tickets for the TGV, but if you let us know in advance we can purchase first-class tickets. Please note that the prices fluctuate and we buy them based on availability.

There are 8 in my family but your website won't allow me to include more than 7 participants. Can't you make an exception?
Contact us to discuss the possibility of doing this tour with a larger group and car.

What are skip-the-line tickets?
For this tour, your tickets are pre-purchased which allows you to directly enter the security line at the castle without waiting to purchase tickets. You may still have to wait in a security line or in a line to have your pre-purchased ticket scanned.   

I'd prefer to take a car from Paris, rather than the train. Is this possible? 
Please contact us to discuss this possibility and pricing.
Where You'll Start
10 Reviews (4.92)

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Sylvie was so friendly and knowledgeable. The tour exceeded our expectations. The train trip was nice. Our driver was very good. We thoroughly enjoyed our day.
Loved Marie. A great guide. That said, I don't really think it was worth the high price for a private tour. For the money, I think second class train tickets were strange. I've done a small group tour of the same itnerary before and, while the guide was nowhere near as good, the tour was a more cost effective experience. I would not reccomend this tour to others.
Marie’s suggestion to visit the Chateaux of Amboise, Chenonceau and Chambord enabled us to have a perfect understanding of the evolution of the Chateaux in the Vallée de la Loire. Marie has great knowledge about their historical, architectonic and functional aspects and the skill to share such knowledge in a simple and interesting way. She was able to contextualize the Chateaux within their historical period and to point out the historical personage related to them. She was always more than willing to answer our questions and used each of those moments as springboards to add further points and issues of interest. Noteworthy was her approach towards the Chateau of Chenonceau as having always been related to important female figures, which enabled us to appreciate their personality and historical importance, as well as the conflicts surrounding them. The driver (Mário, I believe) was very attentive and friendly. We learnt a lot in a very pleasant way!