The River Loire winds through central France. Over the years, it served as the theatre for much of France's royal history. You can still see this in the exceptional heritage of the Loire Valley, including its thousand castles between Angers and Gien. Often associated solely with the Renaissance era, the Châteaux of the Loire Valley tell a tale about 1000 years of royalty, from the 11th to the 19th centuries. From the Middle Ages to the Classic period, there is something for everyone to enjoy: the Château d'Angers and the castles at Loches or Chinon will delight lovers of medieval architecture, while the castles of Blois, Amboise or Chenonceau spanning the River Cher, will thrill fans of the Renaissance style.
Do you prefer French or English gardens? When you visit the Loire, you'll find that the differences are vast - with gardens featuring the obsessive geometry of Villandry or the artistry of the wild garden pushed to its highest point at the castle of Azay-le-Rideau at the heart of Indre department. And because the Renaissance cannot truly be separated from its most important figure, you could plunge into the world of Leonardo da Vinci at the Château du Clos-Lucé, the last home of the Italian genius who finished his life in the service of King Francis I.