The Loire Valley has the particularity of owning several castles well known under the name castles of the Loire. They have the specificity of being built during the period of the French Renaissance, at a time when the court of the King of France was established in this region. There are nineteen Loire Castles and each of them has its particularity: Amboise, Angers, Azay-le-Rideau, Blois, Chambord, Ducs, Brittany and Nantes, Chenonceau, Cheverny, Chinon, Clos-Lucé, Langeais, Saumur, Sully-sur-Loire, Valençay, Villandry, Loches, Brézé, and the Abbey of Fontevraud castles.
In the year 2000, the Loire Valley became the largest site in France on the UNESCO World Heritage list in terms of living cultural landscapes. Among the most visited castles, Chambord is the largest among the castles of the Loire, with its 365 chimneys, 440 rooms and 128 meters of facade. The castle is located in the center of a park of 5,500 hectares, it was the hunting reunion of the counts of Blois.
The strength of the French monarchy is expressed by its central tower with four towers and its enclosure. The plan of the edifice is that of a strong castle of plain. It has a large rectangular enclosure of 156 meters by 117 meters, with angles flanked by four cylindrical towers. On the north-west side of the building stands a dungeon.
The latter possesses colossal proportions, and constitutes in itself the almost entire castle. The whole nevertheless reveals a profound majesty, and the geometrical clarity of the plan, the harmony of proportions, the fantasy of its roofs bristling with turrets, chimneys and dormer windows have been, throughout the centuries, as many sources of wonder and inspiration.
The Azay-le-Ferron Castle
The castle of Azay-le-Ferron is a building of Renaissance style located in the territory of the town of Azay-le-Ferron. It became the property of the city of Tours since 1952 after being classified Historic Monument. It is composed of four parts built at different times: the Frotier tower (end XV), the Pavilion François I (XVI th), the Breteuil pavilion (XVIII). The castle has a garden with double composition. On the side, there is the French garden: topiary shrubs planted and arranged geometrically, ornaments of boxwood and yew cut into pieces of chess game. On the other, an English park is equipped with a rich collection of plants including more than 100 years old trees as well as a rose garden (more than 300 roses), a vegetable garden and an orchard composed of rare and ancient fruit trees. Is listed as Outstanding Garden.
The estate is known to have been owned by Nicolas Turpin de Crissé around 1250 whereas the place was a fortified place. He remained in his family until 1412. In 1412, this one passes in the hand of Antoine de Preuilly descending by Alliance of Turpin. Pierre Frotier, husband of Antoine's sister, acquires the castle in 1423. This historical figure is the squire of King Charles VI in 1418, then grand master of the stable of the king in 1419 before being the seneschal of Poitou in 1424 when it was King Charles VII who was on the throne. He began the renovation of the castle, damaged by the Hundred Years of War and built the wing that bears his name. Disgraced by the king, Frotier is in exile for 19 years before returning to his lands. The estate of Azay-le-Ferron remained in the hands of his descendants until 1559.
In 1560, Louis 1 of Crevant became the owner of the place. From 1607 to 1630, Caesar of Vendome, Son of Henri IV and Gabrielle d'Estrées took possession of the estate of Azay. In 1648 he returned to the Crevant family through Louis IV of Crevant, Duke of Humières. Meanwhile, a new wing is built. In 1699, Le Tonnelier de Breteuil bought the barony of Preuilly and became the owner of the lands of Azay. From 1739 until 1925, the castle passed from hand to hand. Among the famous owners are Julien Gabriel Ouvrard (republic purveyor) and Grégoire Michel (supplier of the Napoleonic armies), Mayor of Azay-le-Ferron from 1812 to 1852. The last owner was the Luzarche family. When Antoine Luzarche, Mayor of Tours became its owner in 1852. Roger Luzarche d'Azay (1872-1962) bequeathed the castle to the city of Tours.
Things to see in the castle of Azay-le-Ferron
Visitors can admire the sumptuous collection of furniture (Louis XV, Louis XVI, Empire, and Restoration), tapestries, paintings and art objetcs decorating the 15 decorated rooms where the Hersent Luzarche family lived. It is a journey through time in a building that has gone through centuries and eras. Strolling through the park's beautiful gardens is also an entertaining and relaxing activity.
The Poncé Castle
History and presentation
The Poncé castle is a Renaissance building built in the 16th century. It is located in Poncé-sur-le-Loir commune in the department of Sarthe, at the foot of a cliff of Tuffeau (soft white fine grain stone used as decorations of Renaissance architecture). It was Jean de Chambray who built the castle between 1530 and 1542 and this remained in his family until 1895. This castle which served as a residence throughout his life stands out by his pigeon and staircase with caissons. In 2010, the painter Guy de Malherbe (born 1958), son of Armand de Malherbe (CEO of an advertising agency) becomes the new owner of the castle and uses it as a workshop-residence.
Things to see in Poncé Castle
The castle is full of wonders to visit: its coffered staircase have never been retouched since its construction, its magnificent French labelled garden, its labyrinth of 6 meters high hedges the garden of Italian inspiration at the back of the castle as well than the plane tree of almost 450 years (planted around 1580). The pigeon and these hundreds of ‘boulins’ (scaffolding holes) also constitute an attraction in the castle. Note that the owners allow the castle to be opened to the public and organize exhibitions.
The Bussière Castle
Presentation and History
The Bussière castle is located in the commune of La Bussière in the Loiret department in the Center-Loire Valley region. It is a feudal castle built on a pond of 6 hectares in the middle of a park of 60 hectares. It was built in the 12th century and underwent a major transformation in the 16th century. It is set in a magnificent setting with a rural setting composed of water and forest. The grounds offer a freshwater fishing museum. At present, Bussière castle belongs to the Bommelaer family by way of succession.
What to see in Bussière castle
Open to the public since 1962, the current owners propose the visit of the family home. There is also the collection of the Museum of Fishing, the landscaped park bearing the imprint of André Le Nôtre, as well as entertainment for the whole family.
How to go from Tours to Paris by shared shuttle?
The Loire castles are 262 km from Orly Airport, 294 km from Charles de Gaulle Airport and 364 km from Beauvais Tillé Airport.