Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley

As much as we loved the indescribable, magical beauty of Mont Saint-Michel, it was time to depart for our next destination, it was to to fulfill the dream to Travel Fairytale French Château region of the Loire Valley. After just a couple of short (but exquisite) days capturing some images in Mont Saint-Michel, my wife, Anne, and I headed for the Château region.

Map of Chateaux Region of the Loire valley France
Map of Chateaux Region of the Loire valley France

It, too, did not disappoint with its fairytale châteaux and amazing views. Let’s explore the highlights of the Château region so you can see what the fairytale is all about!

Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
Hotel Le Choiseul Amboise, France

November 14: Arrival Day Amboise France

We had decided to stay in Amboise, France, which is situated right in the Loire Valley. This whole region is quite a popular spot for visitors, and it is so easy to see why.  As the saying goes, “location, location, location!”

View of the Town from Château Royal d'Amboise

Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
View of the Town from Château Royal d’Amboise

Staying in Amboise is the wise choice if you plan to explore the region’s many châteaux simply because of the town’s proximity to so many of these grand manors. Amboise is rather centrally located to several great tourist attractions so it only makes sense that there are plenty of choices in hotels here.

First View of Château Royal d’Amboise

We chose to stay at the Hotel Le Choiseul which is nestled in at the base of the Château Royal d’Amboise. To fill you in on what exactly this place is, there is some very helpful information located right on the Château’s website. Essentially, this magnificent structure was initially constructed as a home for French royalty beginning in the 15th century.

Château Royal d’Amboise

Now it is no longer used for housing royals, but it is of course open to visitors who wish to tour the grounds and take in the picturesque views from the many breathtaking vantage points. You’ll discover so many intriguing details throughout the place if you choose to take a tour. One rather amazing fact about it is that the great Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb is preserved in this very location.

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The Château’s website is rich in historical details such as this for those that wish to explore the famous figures that are connected in some manner to the place. And the actual Château Royal d’Amboise itself features some impressive models of what the structure looked like in previous eras.

Leonardo da Vinci tomb, Château d'Amboise, Indre-et-Loire, France, Europe

Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
Leonardo da Vinci tomb, Château d’Amboise, Indre-et-Loire, France, Europe

How fun that our hotel was located so close to the Château Royal d’Amboise! To think we were just mere steps away from so many places that hold so much history is just awe-inspiring. Our itinerary for this trip incorporated many opportunities to revel in the rich history of the Chateau region and we couldn’t wait to begin our tours.

The Glorious Grounds Château Royal d'Amboise France

Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
The Glorious Grounds Château Royal d’Amboise France

First Meal in Amboise

But first, we needed to attend to our hungry stomachs since it was nearing dinner time. We decided to eat our meal right at our hotel. Their restaurant, known as “the 36,”, is revered for the fine selection of wines as well as for its gourmet selection of delectable meals.

We actually expected the hotel’s restaurant to be quite busy, but we soon discovered that we were proven incorrect on this point. We walked into the place and found that it looked rather empty inside; it was awfully quiet for dinner time as well. Imagine our surprise upon discovering that we were the only patrons at the place that evening! I do mean that quite literally, for Anne and I were the only two people in that entire restaurant that were not members of the staff. That certainly explained the hush and emptiness inside.

Thus, we enjoyed the whole of the place to ourselves. Imagine being one of just two diners in a more upscale location!  The entire wait staff was focused solely on the two of us, seated in this grand building overlooking the Loire river. It was a bit of a crazy experience and a little unsettling at first due to the quiet all around us, but it was certainly a memorable time.

November 15: Château de Chambord

We awoke to a day of promising adventures ahead of us. Our first full day here in the Loire Valley began with plans to visit the Château de Chambord. This Château turned out to be about an hour’s drive away from our hotel. The journey may normally take a bit less time but as it happened, the morning dawned with a dense fog that made the drive a bit more challenging. (I am happy to report that we made it safely with no incidents.)

Château de Chambord Autumn Beauty

Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
Château de Chambord Autumn Beauty

The Château de Chambord almost defies description because it is just impossibly beautiful. If you have ever watched the film Beauty and the Beast, you will have a better time picturing just how majestic it is.

Château de Chambord Inspired Beauty and the Beast  Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
Château de Chambord Inspired Beauty and the Beast

This is no accident because the castle featured in the popular animated version that was produced in 1991 took a few visual cues from the Château itself. Sure enough there is also a remake of the movie and The Hollywood Reporter published a little article on it.

The Fantastic Staircase Château de Chambord 

Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
The Fantastic Staircase Château de Chambord

They go into some detail about how the castle in this newest version of Beauty and the Beast was created, in part, because some of the crew visited the Château for research purposes. A trip to a majestic French Château certainly sounds like part of the perfect job description to me; how about you?

Amazing Architecture. Château de Chambord

Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
Amazing Architecture. Château de Chambord

Beyond the beauty visible within the walls of the place, there is beauty that matches the interior all around the outside of it as well.

The Beautiful Grounds of Château de Chambord 

Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
The Beautiful Grounds of Château de Chambord

Visitors to the Château will observe manicured French gardens as well as a dense forest of trees in the area. And, of course, the architecture will simply take your breath away. As a fun bonus, this year marked the 500th anniversary of the Château. Can you imagine buildings this old? It was so fun to tour the Château de Chambord and just dream of all of the many people who roamed its halls centuries ago.

The Beautiful Grounds of Château de Chambord 

Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
The Beautiful Grounds of Château de Chambord

Wine Tasting at Les Caves Duhard

Our morning tour concluded and the afternoon brought with it some most interesting experiences at Les Caves Duhard, which is a collection of local caves.

Wine Tasting at Les Caves Duhard
Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
Wine Tasting at Les Caves Duhard

You may not think to try your hand at wine tasting underground, but it is a must-have experience when you are touring the Loire Valley region of France. We took part in the guided tour offered here and the information provided by the tour guide was so incredibly rich. We learned not only about history of the area but also about the history of the wines made here.

The Wine Tour Les Caves Duhard
Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
The Wine Tour Les Caves Duhard

The tour was almost as wonderful as the wine tasting itself. I say almost because our wines were paired up with a different cheese, and we all know the French are the masters of cheese. It is hard to beat a good French wine coupled with a delicious French cheese. The French simply own the art of gastronomy…mmm!

The Art of Gastronomy Wine Tour Les Caves Duhard
Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
The Art of Gastronomy Wine Tour Les Caves Duhard

We could not bring ourselves to leave without purchasing a few bottles of the wine and, naturally, some amazing cheese to go along with our selections.

The Art of Gastronomy Wine Tour Les Caves Duhard
Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
The Art of Gastronomy Wine Tour Les Caves Duhard

Capturing the Autumn Glory of the Loire Valley

Capturing the Autumn Glory of the Loire Valley
Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
Capturing the Autumn Glory of the Loire Valley

I am so grateful that we were able to visit the Château region in November, and I am even more grateful that the fall colors were absolutely splendid. It can be rather hit or miss at home in Minnesota depending on how much wind and rain (or even snow!) we get during the fall season.

Capturing the Autumn Glory of the Loire Valley
Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
Capturing the Autumn Glory of the Loire Valley

But here in the Loire Valley, we reveled in the vibrant fall colors. After viewing these photos, you must simply close your eyes and imagine being completely surrounded by vivid shades of crimson, gold and fiery orange. The leaves on the trees were magnificent and even the leaves that had already been released were gorgeous.

Capturing the Autumn Glory of the Loire Valley
Travel Fairytale French Château Region The Loire Valley
Fine Art Landscape and Architecture Photography

Conclusion French Château Region

The Château region would be stunning and well worth visiting during any season, of course. However, if you are trying to decide on the perfect time of year to visit, I highly recommend taking into account the beauty of the fall season here. The vibrant autumn hues only add to the fairytale qualities of the region and will give you even more beauty to savor on your travels. There is nothing quite like the blend of history and fairytale views you’ll find in France’s Château region.

Next Up: Autumn In New England

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Co Author: Brittany VanDerBill – www.bvanderbillconsulting.com

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