First stop in your Loire Valley tour will be Amboise to tour the castle. Amboise is a very picturesque town on the Loire River and where King Francois I welcomed Leonardo Da Vinci at the end of his life. Charles VII was born at the Chateau d'Amboise and, in fact, died there, too. Alas, while en route to watch his favorite sport called je de paume (tennis!), he struck hid head on a door jam. Henri II and his wife Cahterine de Medici rasied their children in the chateau
Lunch (drinks included) will be in the town of Chenonceaux.
After lunch, your Loire Valley tour continues to Chateau Chenonceaux. This castle is situated along the Cher River and is often called "the ladies castle" because of its history connected with many women!
King Henri II gave Chenonceaux to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers in 1547. Diane loved the chateau and added the arched bridge which connected the castle to the other side of the Cher River. Diane de Poitiers also supervised the creation of beautiful flower and vegetable gardens along with the planting of a variety of fruit trees.
King Henry II died in 1559 and Catherine de Medici, the widow of Henry II, expelled Diane. Catherine created beautiful gardens, too. Today, it's possible to contrast and compare the gardens of these two ladies and to imagine the intrigue behind the Chenonceaux Castle.
During World War I the gallery of the arched bridge became a hospital ward. During WWII, it was used as a way to flee the occupied Nazi zone to the "free" Vichy zone on the other side of the Cher River.
The final stop in the Loire Valley tour is Chambord Castle, built between 1519 and 1547. This castle is a masterpiece with some four hundred rooms (it was never actually completed!). It is a combination of French medieval architecture and classical Italian structures. Chambord is situated in a park covering more than 13,000 acres, making it the largest forested park in Europe.
Originally built as a hunting lodge for King Francois I, the king wished to be near his mistress, the Comtesse de Thoury, a member of a very noble family. Coincidentally enough, her domaine was closeby Chambord. Francois I still kept his royal castles of Blois and Amboise.
Your Loire Valley tour to Amboise, Chenonceaux, and Chambord Castle ends with your driver taking you back to your Paris hotel or apartment.