Only an hour-and-a-half trip of Paris on a good highway – and you are in one of the most beautiful regions of France, also known as the «Castles of Loire». On one hand it is not far from the capital, but on the other hand there you can get the feel of true provincial France.

Wonderful scenery and picturesque villages located along the Loire River created a peculiar atmosphere, which induced French kings and nobility to build there dozens of castles in middle ages. The most beautiful castles are near the cities of Blois and Orleans. 

You should visit Chambord and Chenonceau, as well as the castle of Blois. They aren’t only beautiful, but closely connected with the main events of French history, as French kings mostly abode just in these castles. Henri de Guise was murdered in one of the castles, which resulted in aggravation of relationships with Huguenots.

Chambord was commissioned by Francis I as his main summer residence. The castle has very fascinating roofing, which consists of a number of various domes and extensions. Chenonceau is the most singular castle, built across the Cher River. Because of its beauty it was owned mostly by women, at first by the favorite of Francis I Diane de Poitiers, and then his wife Katherine Medici.

If you have a car, one day would be quite enough to visit some other not the least inter-esting medieval castles and fortresses. Within a very compact area there located the castles of Amboise, Chaumont and Loches. The castle of Amboise is one of the largest in Loire Val-ley, and has all the features of medieval fortress. It is at the top of nearby hill and its high walls dominate the city. The castle belonged to Francis I. Leonardo da Vinci spent in the castle the last years of his life and was buried there.

Chaumont is not far from Amboise. It is a small but very elegant castle. From the top of the hill where the castle is located you can get a beautiful panorama of Loire Valley. Also you can have a stroll in a small but very beautiful garden. The castle of Loches was built in early middle ages, so only ruins survived until our time, but they still can give you an exact idea of the layout of European fortresses built in the period of X-XII centuries.