The captivating Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire located in the heart of the famous Loire Valley is one of the most beautiful destinations in France.
The Loire Valley, also known as the “Garden of France”, has 22 châteaux (castles) built during the 15th and 16th centuries and spread along the Loire River.
Between them is the Chaumont-sur-Loire, built around the year 1000 but burned and demolished in 1465 by Louis XI.
However, a few years later, it was rebuilt, and the 32 hectares of the property were part of the Amboise family for nearly 500 years, who transformed it into an ornamental castle in the Renaissance style.
In 1550, Catherine de Medici, wife of the late King Henry II, acquired the castle but shortly afterwards forced Diane de Poitiers (the king’s mistress) to exchange Château de Chenonceau for Château de Chaumont, where she remained for a short time until selling it.
In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray ordered the destruction of the north wing, thus opening up an unparalleled view of the Loire.
Marie-Charlotte-Constance Say bought the castle, and she and her husband, Prince Henri-Amédée de Broglie, restored the palace.
They decorated its rooms with Renaissance furniture, made a magnificent English landscaped garden and built luxurious stables, considered at that time the most luxurious in Europe.
Over the years, the castle was ceded to the State by the Princess of Orleans and Bourbon in 1938.
Currently, Chaumont-sur-Loire has been owned by the Centro Region since 2007 and a Public Establishment of Cultural Cooperation (EPCC) since January 2008.
What to see in the castle?
Chaumont-sur-Loire is undoubtedly an imposing building with round towers at each corner. The entrance is via a drawbridge between two towers, each with a decorative stonework panel.
Inside, the rooms have been carefully restored and furnished. The interior decoration mainly reflects that of the Broglie family, who owned it from 1875 to 1938, although there are recreations of earlier times in several rooms.
You can discover historic rooms, such as Catherine de Medici’s bedroom and Diane de Poitiers’ bedroom, furnished in the 16th-century style.
Then you can uncover private rooms, such as the dining room and the main lounge, decorated in a more contemporary style.
The grand spiral staircase in the castle’s centre is among the highlights.
Altogether there are about 15 rooms to see and a small Gothic-style chapel. Several rooms also incorporate contemporary artwork, a vast collection of furniture, books, paintings, sculptures and France’s finest collection of “unique” medallions by the famous sculptor Jean-Baptiste Nini.
Although Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire’s castle gardens are less formal than those found in many Loire castles, it is no less beautiful.
There is also a collection of gardens called Park du Goualoup, where permanent gardens with modern and contemporary designs have been established.
The castle is also known for hosting many contemporary art exhibitions, including the International Garden Festival, which takes place between April and November.
Every year, 3 hectares are set aside for artists and landscapers to create a garden following a theme that changes every year.
According to the castle’s website, they advise arriving at opening hours to get the most out of the place and they state that ideally is to set aside at least 3 hours to visit the festival.
When my friends and I visited, we didn’t go through the festival as we didn’t have time. Instead, we spent the morning getting to know the castle and the permanent gardens and then headed to the Château du Clos Lucé where we spent the afternoon.
Depending on the season, ages, families and groups, tickets have different prices. To check current prices, visit the website here.
How to get to Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire?
The main car park is at the south entrance: Rue des Argillons.
But it is also possible to park in the village of Chaumont-sur-Loire and along the banks of the Loire.
From Paris-Austerlitz station, get off at Onzain/Chaumont-sur-Loire station, it takes about 1h40.
From St Pierre des Corps station – get off at Onzain/Chaumont-sur-Loire station. It takes about 20 minutes.
A shuttle service runs between Onzain/Chaumont-sur-Loire station and the Château in the morning and late afternoon.
Show your SNCF train ticket stamped on the day of your visit and get a special rate!
To check the values and times, check it here.
People visit the Loire Valley for its beautiful castles, gardens, gastronomy and wines, and it is not by chance that the 280 km region is part of the Unesco World Heritage Site.
So you can spend several days enjoying the region!
I highly recommend it, as it is a delight to drive along the small roads, see the castles and enjoy a good wine. It is definitely on my list, and I want to return to visit other châteaux.