Châteaux of the Loire Valley
|Châteaux of the Loire Valley|
|Location||France (Centre, Pays de la Loire)|
|Architectural style(s)||French Renaissance architecture|
|Part of||The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes|
|Region||Europe and North America|
The Châteaux of the Loire Valley are part of the architectural heritage of the historic towns of Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Nantes, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours along the Loire River in France. They illustrate Renaissance ideals of design in France.
By the middle of the 16th century, King François I had shifted the center of power in France from the Loire back to the ancient capital of Paris. With him went the great architects, but the Loire Valley continued to be the place where most of the French royalty preferred to spend the bulk of their time. The ascension to the throne of King Louis XIV in the middle of the 17th century made Paris the permanent site for great royal châteaux when he built the Palace of Versailles. Nonetheless, those who gained the king's favour and the wealthy bourgeoisie continued to renovate existing châteaux or build lavish new ones as their summer residence in the Loire.
The French Revolution saw a number of the great French châteaux destroyed and many ransacked, their treasures stolen. The overnight impoverishment of many of the deposed nobility, usually after one of its members lost his or her head to the guillotine, saw many châteaux demolished. During World War I and World War II, some chateaux were commandeered as military headquarters. Some of these continued to be used this way after the end of World War II.
Today, these privately owned châteaux serve as homes, a few open their doors to tourist visits, while others are operated as hotels or bed and breakfasts. Many have been taken over by a local government authority, or the giant structures like those at Chambord are owned and operated by the national government and are major tourist sites, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
List of châteaux of the Loire
There is no universally accepted definition for inclusion as a "Château of the Loire". The main criterion is that the château must be situated close to the Loire or one of its tributaries (such as the Maine, Cher, Indre, Creuse or Loir). Châteaux further upstream than Gien are generally not included, with the possible exception of the Bastie d'Urfé for its historical significance.
Châteaux of the nobility
- The Loire Valley: A Phaidon Cultural Guide. New York: Prentice Hall Press. 1986.
- Peregrine, Anthony (21 May 2014). "The best chateaux of the Loire Valley, France". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- Lounes, Allison (4 December 2012). "Chateaux spectacular: 5 best Loire Valley castles | CNN Travel". CNN. Retrieved 15 November 2016.