The town of Chambord is famous for one single attraction: the castle, which is considered one of the most beautiful in the entire region.
Chambord Castle is an architectural masterpiece of the Renaissance and one of the largest royal residences in the Loire Valley. It was built in the 16th century by order of Francis I, and, as has already been proven, Leonardo da Vinci himself had a hand in this grandiose project, despite the fact that he died a few months before construction began.
The second most visited castle in France (after Versailles), this dream castle is a must see in life. Climb up the double open stairs, admire the fabulous rooftops and chimneys, take in the views of the canal from above, and stroll through the stunning 1,000-hectare nature park for picnicking and cycling. But don’t expect to leave the castle before an hour, it’s too amazing.
The castle is protected by UNESCO, and the park around is a nature reserve. See Bridgat for climate and weather information of France.
King Francis I, known for his passion for art, after military campaigns in Italy, decided to create a miracle similar to the best creations of Italian architects. To achieve the best result, he chose Leonardo da Vinci as the main architect, who prepared this project for two years, but the death of the great artist in 1519 left the king without one of the best minds of his time. After the death of Leonardo, the castle was built for almost 30 years.
The vaults of the halls on the third floor are decorated with magnificent carvings, combining the monogram “F” of King Francis I and his emblem in the form of a salamander – a mythical animal that can live in fire. The salamanders of the castle symbolize the king’s motto – “I feed on (good fire) and put out (bad fire)”.
The forests in Chambord were a favorite place for royal hunting, but these territories did not serve the royal people for long. The descendants of Francis rarely visited this estate, and only Louis XIV was able to appreciate the forests and meadows of Chambord. In addition to hunting, the king arranged his theatrical performances here.
How to navigate
Chambord consists of two parts: the castle itself and the surrounding park-reserve. The most famous and visible element of the castle’s architecture is the double staircase, a masterpiece that owes its existence to the thought of Leonardo da Vinci. The staircase formed by two spirals in the central part of the structure is arranged in such a way that those descending and ascending could avoid meeting in person. Viewing platforms allow you to see the entire estate, and the chapel, built in the opposite wing from the king, allows you to think about the eternal.
The terraces of the castle, which offer a magnificent view of the rooftops, are the best place to take photos.
Viewpoints of the park for those who love nature and are ready to wait in silence to see some of the inhabitants of the reserve, rare in today’s world.
How to get to Chambord
From Paris, TGV trains depart from Gare d’Austerlitz for the Château de Chambord. Stop – Blois. Travel time to Blois takes an average of one and a half hours (the faster, the higher the ticket price). There are first and second grade. The fare for the second class is from 23 EUR, the first class – from 35 EUR.
Another option, less convenient and taking much longer, is to get to the castle from Montparnasse train station (Gare Montparnasse). You will need to do one change. To do this, first at the Montparnasse train station or via the Internet, you should buy a ticket to Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, located four kilometers from the city of Tours. Travel time is about an hour. There are first and second grade. The fare for the second class is 40-50 EUR. Trains run every hour and a half. After arriving in the suburb of Tours, you need to transfer to the TER train (local train) going to Blois. Travel time is 25 minutes. The most important thing is not to get into a break between the train and the train. Otherwise, you will have to wait in a suburb of little interest to visit.
From Blois station to the castle you will have to get either by taxi or by a special bus that moves along the circular route No. 18 Blois – Chambord – Cheverny – Blois (Ligne 18: BLOIS – CHAMBORD – CHEVERNY – BLOIS). Bus stop next to the train station (TLC booth). Unfortunately, this regular bus does not run all year round, but only from April to early September. Its movement correlates with trains from Paris. So, if the train arrives at 8:59, then the bus leaves the station at 9:10. The last flight from the station towards Chambord is at 13:42. Travel time to the castle is 40 minutes. The main thing is not to miss the bus in the opposite direction, which will go through Cheverny.
You don’t need to buy a return ticket. It is enough to show the driver already bought. Moreover, if you present it when buying an entrance ticket to the castle, then a discount of 1.50 EUR is given.
During the rest of the year, when a special bus does not run, tourists can use the ordinary route No. 2 (Ligne 2) with a stop in Chambord.
The cost of a taxi one way is about 35 EUR. The cost of a trip on a circular route is 6 EUR. The cost of a one-way trip on an ordinary bus is 2.50 EUR. Tickets can be bought from the driver.
From Paris to Chambord Castle, it is most convenient to get on the A10 motorway, turning towards Blois or Mer.
Shops and restaurants
There are several souvenir shops on the territory of the castle, offering visitors a huge number of memorable little things that are pleasant to the heart, from key chains to French delicacies. There is also a large shop with several departments inside the castle. There you can buy decor and table setting items, posters and posters, jewelry, books on the history of France and the castle as a whole, DVDs and CDs, stationery, souvenirs, perfumes, textiles and much more.
On the territory of the village, located near the castle, you can find several restaurants and a pancake shop.
Entertainment and attractions
Chambord – Dream and Lights is a unique night performance that brings sound and light together. On the north facade of the castle, using the latest advances in digital technology, a stunning video show is demonstrated, accompanied by audio effects.
The first night performance at the castle was held on May 30, 1952. The premiere delighted the audience and became the beginning of a whole series of wonderful performances. Such as “Battle of Day and Night”, “Metamorphoses”, etc.
The duration of the event is 50 minutes. The time of the event is from July 9 to August 27. Ticket price – 13 EUR. You can purchase a combined ticket at a discount: entrance to the castle + performance. The cost of such a ticket: 18 EUR.
On the territory of the stables of Marshal of Saxony, from May 1 to September 28, an open-air horse show “In the Forest of History” is organized. The show is held twice a day, at 11:45 and at 16:00 from July 15 to August 15, and from May 1 to July 14 and from August 16 to September 28 – every day except Monday. Duration – 45 minutes. Ticket price – 12.50 EUR, children (6-17 years old): 9 EUR, combined ticket “entrance to the castle + horse show”: 21 EUR.
The Djamel Tata exhibition on the grounds of Chambord Castle is organized for those who are interested in contemporary art. The works of this artist are exhibited in the best galleries of the world and deserve the attention of all who are not alien to beauty. The exhibition is held from April 1 to September 30. You can get in with an entrance ticket to the castle.
Chambord is not only a history immortalized in stone, but also a wonderful reserve in which flora and fauna are carefully preserved. Deer, roe deer, wild boars, all kinds of birds live in the park of Chambord. For nature lovers, several types of excursions are organized, which include: horseback riding through the park with a guide, including for beginners, every Wednesday and Saturday; sightseeing of natural attractions on an off-road vehicle with a guide (cost: 20 EUR, children (6-17 years old): 12 EUR, duration – one and a half hours).
You can also enjoy walking along the forest roads by renting two- or four-wheeled bicycles, or taking in the view from the river by arranging a boat trip.
“The heat of the rut” is a unique opportunity to see the love games of red deer. Every morning and evening, from September 20 to October 6, Chambord Castle gives its visitors the right to join the life of these animals. The duration of observation is 3 hours. The cost is 35 EUR.
Address: Château, 41250 Chambord.
Opening hours: the castle is open to tourists all year round, except for January 1, November 30 and December 25. From March 28 to October 25 – from 9:00 to 18:00; from October 26 to December 31 and from January 2 to March 27: 9:00 – 17:00. Ticket offices close half an hour before closing.
Entrance: 13 EUR. Car parking is paid – 4-6 EUR per day.
There are audio and video guides in Russian. The cost of an audio guide is 5 EUR, a video guide is 6 EUR. Tours run for an hour and a half.
Special free booklets in Russian, issued at the entrance, are a mini-guide to the castle.
Boat rental near the Kosson river from March 31 to September 30, from 10:00 to 19:00: rowing boat (1-2 passengers, 1 hour: 12 EUR, rowing boat (3-4 passengers, 1 hour): 16 EUR, electric boat (1-2 passengers, 30 minutes): 16 EUR, electric boat (2 passengers, 30 minutes): 16 EUR, electric boat (1-5 passengers, 1 hour): 30 EUR.
Bicycle and ATV rental (at the box office at the pier) from March 31 to September 30, from 10:00 to 19:00: quad bike (1-4 passengers, 1 hour): 20 EUR, quad bike with trailer (1-2 passengers, 1 hour): 7 EUR, bicycle for adults (1 hour): 6 EUR, bicycle for children (1 hour): 4 EUR, bicycle trailer for a child (1 hour): 2 EUR, bicycle for adults (4 hours): 15 EUR, bicycle for children (4 hours): 10 EUR, bicycle trailer for a child (4 hours): 5 EUR.
Guided stroll around the castle grounds (guided tour in French) from April 12 to September 28: 11 EUR, children (6-17 years old): 8 EUR, combined castle + crew ticket: 20 EUR.