On July 14 1789 the infamous French prison, the Bastille was stormed by a Parisian population demanding equality and liberty from feudalism and monachal rule. Today, the anniversary of the storming is France’s national day of celebration and is widely seen as the catalyst in the creation of a modern French nation.
Here at Escape Travel, we wish our French friends all the best on their national day but we think the palaces and chateaux built by the French aristocracy are incredibly beautiful. So here are our top five Palaces in the Loire Valley that must be explored on any trip to France.
Château de Chenonceau
Offering a stunning outlook, Chenonceau Castle is predominantly built over the Cher River. The structure has a long connection to French and English royalty and was saved from destruction during the French revolution because ironically it provided the only way across the river. According to legend, it is also believed the castle was originally spelt with a ‘x’ but was dropped to appeal to a Republican guard and distance the structure from aristocratic favour.
Château de Chambord
The distinctive French Renaissance architecture has cemented Chambord Castle’s reputation as one of the great regal structures not just in the Loire Valley but throughout Europe. It was originally built as a hunting lodge for François I between 1519 and 1547. At the time of the revolution, the Castle was unoccupied and the ruling Government had much of the interior stripped.
Château de Blois
Prior to Joan of Arc’s famous victory against the English in 1429, she was blessed by the Archbishop of Reims at Blois Castle. Construction on the Castle began in the thirteenth century but was largely abandoned during the seventeenth century. The revolutionaries stole whatever they could from the decaying structure but was saved from complete demolition when it was decided to be used as a military barracks.
Château de Cheverny
Built between 1624 and 1630, Cheverny Castle was one of the first in the region to be opened to the public. The interiors are spectacular – with a dizzying array of antique furniture and tapestries and the gardens are particularly memorable.
Charles VII of France took control of Amboise Castle in 1434 after its owner, Louis d’Amboise was convicted of treason against his King. Interestingly, a chapel within the grounds is the burial place of Leonardo da Vinci. Unlike other Castles in the region, during the revolution much of the structure was demolished but luckily for visitors, the majesty and grace was been restored.