Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

1,001 castles

I don’t know for sure whether there are actually 1,001 castles in the Loire Valley, but that’s what a website claims. I found it while I was looking for information about the Château de Valmer near Vouvray.

Last year my friend and I had planned to visit Valmer on the day of our arrival. We never made it though, as we were rather tired after getting up at half past four in the morning and driving over 500 km to get to Amboise. After having lunch at the Val Joli in Vouvray, we drove straight up to our chambre d’hôtes where we spent a leisurely afternoon by the pool watching the air show over Tours.

The castle of Valmer – or what’s left of it - is situated on a bluff overlooking the valley of the Brenne. It was built in the 16th and 17th century and sits in an 80ha park with beautiful Renaissance gardens. These gardens and a 16th century troglodyte chapel are the main attractions of the Château, which was largely destroyed by fire in 1948.

Since 1888 Valmer belongs to the Saint Venant family. The Duke is a keen winegrower and the wines of Valmer rank amongst some of the best Vouvray wines. The Duchess takes pride and joy in the gardens, which are exceptionally beautiful and moreover produce over a thousand varieties of vegetables, the seeds of which are carefully stocked and even frozen for later use.

So you see; there is a lot going on at Valmer, even if there is no longer a sumptuous castle to visit. I therefore really would like to go there during this year's trip. I suppose it won’t be too difficult to convince my friends to spend Sunday afternoon – weather permitting of course - at Valmer before checking in at our chambre d’hôtes. Sunday being the only day of the week that the castle is open to the public in the month of May.

If Valmer is one of the hypothetical 1,001 châteaux, I would like to know some of the lesser known remaining 1,000! On this year's to-see-list I already have: Beauregard, Villesavin, Troussay, Fougères … Maybe you know of some more ‘forgotten’ châteaux within a maximum range of 75 km from Tours? Your suggestions are more than welcome!



Thib said...

If you drive from Cheverny to Troussay, you will drive a few meters from le Petit Carroir! It's definitely not a castle, it's just my home ;-)

In terms of "small", less-known castles, le Chateau du Moulin (Lassay sur Croisne) and le Gué Péan (Monthou sur Cher) are also worth a visit...

Dedene said...

I love that area and it's not far from here. I also love Vouvray wine, sparkling or still. YUMMY!

Jean said...

We can hardly drive for 10 minutes from LGP without passing another chateau. Some are open for visitors, some privately owned, some just in the process of falling down. So the 1001 does not surprise me.

ladybird said...

Thib, Who was it who said 'a man's home is his castle'? So I guess Le Petit Carroir is yours! :)
Thanks for the tips. I'll add them to my list.

Dedene, I thought you lived further to the North; near Orléans. Feel like coming to Vouvray and have a glass of local bubbly with us and maybe stock up on some wine?

ladybird said...

Jean, Do you think there is an official list of all those castles somewhere? It would be interesting to get hold of that, wouldn't it?

Ken Broadhurst said...

I bet there are more than 1001 châteaux. It all depends on how you define the Val de Loire. Départments 41 and 37, of course. But also 36, and 49, and maybe 28 and 18. Not to mention 45.

ladybird said...

Ken, That's spoken like a true Frenchmen; calling the 'départements' by their number instead of their name :) 37 is Indre-et-Loire, 41 Loir et Cher, as for the others ... I'm lost except perhaps 45. Could that be the Loiret?

Thib said...

18: Cher
28: Eure & Loir (without e!)
36: Indre
45: Loiret
49: Maine & Loire

I wouldn't include 18 and 28 in the so called "Loire Valley". 36 is definitely not crossed by the Loire river, but still there are a few nice castles, such as Valencay...

ladybird said...

Thank you Thib! We've been to Valençay in 2008 and liked it very much. I even think that we'll go back this year as there is exhibition of orchids and carnivor plants in the castle's main gallery (May 1st till May 31st).