The Valley du Loir
The Loire Valley is also heralded as the "Garden of France" and holds an amazing number of examples of why. The reason that most of the "Royal" Châteaux are found here is due to the climate. With longer summers that do not normally get "too" hot and shorter winters not normally being "too" cold, the royals deemed it ideal. We are surrounded by several dozen Châteaux, all of which are amazing, but highly recommended are ........
Château du Lude -
Just a short 20 minute drive and you pull up in Le Lude, crossing the Loire with the sight of the Château to your left. The Château du Lude is one of our personal favourites and one of the many great châteaux of the Loire Valley (Vallée de la Loire) in France. The château stands at the crossroads of Anjou, Maine and Touraine. Le Lude is the most northerly château of the Loire Valley and one of the last important historical castles in France, still inhabited by the same family for the last 260 years. The château is testimony of four centuries of French architecture. A stronghold transformed into an elegant house during the Renaissance and the 18th century. The monument is located in the valley of le Loir. Its gardens have evolved throughout the centuries. It is a harmonious combination of French design and an English style landscape, with a rose garden, topiaries, a labyrinth and a botanical walk.
Château Villandry -
Famous the world over for it's amazing gardens, with its unique furnishings, décor and atmosphere, the Château de Villandry is a living testimony of French heritage. When Jean Le Breton acquired the Villandry estate, the building was a Medieval fortress. The defensive architecture was pared down, opened up and enhanced with elements of Renaissance décor. In the 18th century, the Marquis de Castellane moved into Villandry and made some major changes to transform the building into a warm, bright and comfortable home that reflected the art of living at that time. By the end of the 19th century the estate had fallen into disuse and was saved from dereliction by Joachim Carvallo and Ann Coleman, who in turn undertook a campaign of restoration to return it to its Renaissance state. Henri Carvallo, the current owner of Villandry, is following in the footsteps of his ancestors by both preserving this unique heritage site and opening it up for visitors to enjoy.
Château d'Amboise was built on a spur above the River Loire. The strategic qualities of the site were recognised before the medieval construction of the castle, and a Gallic oppidum was built there. In the late 9th century Ingelgarius was made viscount of Orléans and through his mother was related to Hugh the Abbot, tutors to the French kings. Ingelgarius married Adelais, a member of a prominent family (a bishop and archbishop were her uncles) who controlled Château d'Amboise. He was later made Count of the Angevins and his rise can be attributed to his political connections and reputation as a soldier. Château d'Amboise would pass through Ingelgarius and Adelais' heirs, and he was succeeded by their son, Fulk the Red. As Fulk the Red expanded his territory, Amboise, Loches, and Villentrois formed the core of his possessions. Amboise lay on the eastern frontier of the Angevins holdings. Amboise and its castle descended through the family to Fulke Nerra in 987. Fulk had to contend with the ambitions of Odo I, Count of Blois who wanted to expand his own territory into Anjou. Odo I could call on the support of many followers and instructed Conan, Count of Rennes, Gelduin of Saumr, and Abbot Robert of Saint-Florent de Saumur to harass Fulk's properties. While Conan was busy on Anjou's western border, Gelduin and Robert attempted to isolate the easternmost castles of Amboise and Loches by raiding the Saumurois and disrupting communications. To further threaten Amboise, fortifications were erected at Chaumont and Montsoreau, while Saint-Aignan was garrisoned.
A definite visit for a Sunday as the town also has a fantastic French market, follow that with the Château and topped of with a wine tour through the Vouvray Caves, Fantastic!!!