The Most Beautiful Buildings in the Loire Valley

The perfectly symmetrical Château de Cheverny I
The perfectly symmetrical Château de Cheverny I | © Benh LIEU SONG/Flickr
Jessica Baldwin

The Loire Valley is home to many stunning buildings, from royal palaces and fortresses within lakes to Gothic cathedrals and Renaissance castles. Each one with its own history and architectural style, these are eight locations you’ll want to add to you must-see list.

1. Chartres Cathedral

Cathedral, Church

Stained-glass windows at the Chartres Cathedral
Rama/WikiCommons
This catholic Gothic cathedral is home to the largest collection of preserved medieval stained-glass windows in the world, with some of the collection dating back to the late 12th and early 13th century. Its enormous ogival-style nave and 12th-century sculptures, which adorn its porch, also helped it gain a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list. It features two spires, flying buttresses and Romanesque statues.

2. Château de Chambord

Lodge

Château du Chambord surrounded by a lake and stunning landscapes
Courtesy of Château du Chambor
Château de Chambord is the largest castle in the Loire Valley. Surrounded by forests homing wild boar and deer, it feels wonderfully remote, despite being just two hours from Paris. The vast estate has a footprint the size of the French capital and was originally built to serve as a hunting lodge for Françis I. The original architect remains an enigma, but it is alleged that the building was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches and is considered to be one of France’s finest Renaissance buildings. Though it is most famous for its awe-inspiring exterior, the castle’s interior is just as impressive and totally unique, with an undeniable Italian edge. One of its most famous features is its double helix staircase, which can be found dominating the center of the keep.

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