Watertravel & Waterside DestinationsCentral France's Upper Loire region is home to many castles: some open to the public, some converted into luxury hotels, still others privately owned.

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Central France’s Châteaux

The areas on either side of the Loire already had settlements and productive vineyards when Julius Caesar’s legions arrived to conquer Gaul more than 2,000 years ago.

These central provinces would later be home to kings and other wealthy inhabitants of what came to be known collectivelyChateau De Breuil near Cheverny is one of a number of castles converted into luxury hotels in Central France. as La France. Because of this elite group of denizens, the Renaissance, when it arrived from Italy, took hold first in the Loire Valley.

Even after the capital was moved from Central France to Paris, the kings and Parisian nobles would return to the region for recreation and a respite from their busy lives in the city. The grand country châteaux remain today, with some available as high-end lodging.

The chateau overlooking Apremont-sur-Allier is surrounded by a beautiful garden, which is open to the public (for an entry fee). The hill-top château at Apremont-sur-Allier, pictured at left, has a superb view of the town and region, and on its grounds you’ll find a garden which is open to the public. We arrived at Apremont early in the day in order to get pictures in warm morning light. It was before the opening hours of the castle garden, hence no photos here. Oh well, there's always next time. Meanwhile, there are some photos of the garden here.

Pictured below is Chambord, largest and probably most visited of the Loire Valley Châteaux. The overall design of the castle is said to have been influenced by Leonardo da Vinci, who also resided there late in life. As with the Louvre, you can pretty much forget trying to see everything in one day. But for as much as you are able to get to, it’s worth it. Expect a long walk from the parking area and a throng of fellow tourists.

Chateau Chambord, largest of the Loire Valley castles, is also one of the most visited.
Copyright © Don Douglas