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Average time to visit a Chateau in Loire

I realize it changes based on your particular interest and whether you like to go fast or slow. I can see myself, for instance, spending more time at Da Vinci's home than the garden at Villandry - because I'm more likely to stop and take a long look at something rather than simply stroll through.

Nevertheless, I'm trying to get some ideas of averages people have spent at different chateaux to see if it can inform planning for my upcoming trip.

Where did you go? Did you like it? Did anything surprise you compared to what you were expecting? How long, from arriving in the parking lot to leaving did you spend? Did you feel that was enough time, too much, or would you have liked to have stayed longer? Were there factors that led you to spend more time at one than another?



Posted by
346 posts

We visited both the Chateau in Amboise and Davinci's home here today, and probably took about an hour and a half each.

Posted by
1005 posts

This one is hard since each person has his/her own travel style. One general warning about time--often there is a 10-15 minute walk from the parking lot to get to the chateau, so you need to factor in that time as well. Here are some random thoughts on specific chateaux:

Villandry--My wife is an avid gardener so we spent more than two hours there. If you don't love gardens, you can skip it since the chateau itself is nothing special.

Chaumont--Spent half a day here and could have spent more time. The Festival of Gardens was lots of fun, plus there is the English-style grounds and the horse stables to also see. The chateau was particularly interesting to me because of its historical association with the American Revolution and Benjamin Franklin. It also is in a great setting right on the river.

Chenonceau--Loved this place--could have spend half the day here, but when the tourist buses arrived, it go so crowded, that we decided to leave. Go early and see the interior first before the hordes come.

Chambord--Monumental architecture, but not as impressive as Chenonceau. Two hours is probably enough unless you want to take a carriage ride or see the horse show.

Posted by
12 posts

After recently visiting Château Cheverny, I would suggest at least 2 hours to visit. This would include entering the giftshop to pay for admission (and being distracted by the goodies), strolling the grounds and admiring the well-furnished château from within. A brochure guides you through the interior, so that you're not wandering aimlessly. There are also the lush gardens, and the kennel next door housing the multitude of resident hounds. Lastly, if you're a fan of the French comic book character Tintin, there is a special interactive exhibit in a separate building. There is also a café and a wine shop next door.

Posted by
5790 posts

At least a couple of hours each, as an average. More if the grounds are especially vast or compelling. Plus allowing for the walk from and back to the parking lot, getting the tickets, etc. We found that two chateaux, not too far apart, would take most of a day, with breaks for lunch, strolls, etc.

Posted by
12074 posts

Thanks for your replies. I was guessing an average of two hours would be about right - adjusted for the specific property. Your replies so far seem to confirm that.

I normally plan one sight in the morning and one in the afternoon, with lunch in between. That seems to be about the right pace for Loire too. I plan to ride a bicycle if the weather cooperates, so that eats up a little more time between destinations. I prefer having some slack time, where I might spend longer at a sight or stop at an unplanned sight, rather than planning my day to the minute and racing to keep up.

I'm always up early; I've also found sights are more enjoyable if you beat the tour busses in the morning.

Posted by
53 posts

I would say, its about a half of a day regardless per, and it's unlikely that you would be able to get to 2 in one day because of the distance and other necessities, such as eating , etc.

Posted by
2353 posts

Two a day is plenty - after a bit they all start to morph into one! It is easy to get "over-chateaued"!

Posted by
1889 posts

Yes, we did two a day also and then also drove by others that were on the way.

Villandry- we are not really garden people but decided to go since it was near to our arrival and we were heading the opposite direction. Thought we'd just do a quick look. We all loved it!! I was so surprised! It was beautiful! We stayed far longer than I realized.

Chenonceau- This was one of our favorites. We all enjoyed it, but also enjoyed the gardens and exterior. Just to sit and look at it was amazing.

Chambord- same thing. Just to sit and look it is amazing. The inside isn't really that great, but I was happy we did the inside just to get to the roof tops and see the view of the chateaux as well as the countryside from the roof balconies. Could have stayed up there an hour!

Amboise- we enjoyed the town and we went to Da Vinci's house but didn't tour the chateaux. We did love the museum there and the house.

There are many little old villages that are really fun to walk through, so spend time wandering around, too. Don't plan more than two a day and chose just the best ones so if you get tired of them you have done the best of them.

Posted by
285 posts

Just to provide a different perspective, we used a tour provider to tour 3 chateaux and Clos de Luce in one day. Starting at 8 am, we saw Villandry, Amboise, Chenonceau, and Clos de Luce - ending the day with a wine tasting and tour of a cave. Spent maybe an hour at each chateau, longer at Chenonceau, and 2 hours at Clos de Luce (could have been longer).
It ended up being mostly a private tour - one other couple joined us in the afternoon - so I don't think we were too short-changed. As one poster said, the chateaux are beautiful but after a while tend to blur into each other.

Posted by
7520 posts

Brad, we saw Chenoceau and Chambord. I think 2 hours each is more than enough. I thought they were much more interesting from the outside (including gardens) than inside. I actually thought the chateau in Amboise was the most interesting inside and out (Da Vinci's grave is on the grounds) and convenient if you're staying in Amboise. You can walk to it easily from the center of town, and fit in towards the end of a day.

Posted by
754 posts

We were my husband and I in our 40's and my mom who is 70. We spent on average 3 hrs per chateau. We visited Villandry and I was surprised how much we liked that one. Turned out to be our favorite. It was off season in early November and we seemed to have the place to ourselves. The gardens were still quite nice. Loved it.

Chenonceau was nice. Very pretty. We were there about 3 hrs 1/2 hours.

Chambord was HUGE and impressive from the outside but lacking inside for me. We did not climb to the top of the chateau cause we were tired. 2 1/2 hrs there.

Posted by
5790 posts

An often underrated chateau is Blois, in the middle of the city of that name so no beautiful grounds, more like Amboise overlooking the town and river. It consists of several buildings around a courtyard, each from a different period between the 15th and 17th centuries, some rooms furnished and others set up with exhibits, and loads of history.

Another is Loches, further south, with the remains of a medieval castle and an intact 15th century mansion. Also an interesting church and a bit of Roman column as a bonus.

Posted by
1246 posts

No chateau, sauf Versailles, merits half a day. The biggies perhaps 3-4 hours.
I recently was dropped off from Chenonceau from 10 AM to 4PM and that was entirely too long (wasn't my choice, that particular trip was planned by our sister school). The city, Chenonceaux, is absolutely small. It took about a half hour to visit. There was a cool lavoir and cemetary. But half a crois pas.

Posted by
5076 posts

Hi Brad,

My daughter & I visited 4 chateaux in the Loire Valley recently & we spent a couple of hours visiting each one of them.
Our time was limited because we didn't have a car & had to return to the bus stop after 2 hours, to go to the next chateau, or to return to Amboise.

Our favorite was Chateau Chenonceau, mainly because of it's beautiful setting & it's architecture.
There's a delightful tree lined promenade leading to the castle. Part of the castle is built on what was once a bridge across the river & it's surrounded by an immense forest. The history of this castle is very interesting too. I enjoyed the lovely fresh flower arrangements in the various rooms, & the 2 very different gardens. We had wanted to walk in the "maze" garden, but it was closed to the public when we were there.

Chateau de Chambord was interesting, the castle is huge, but only part of it is open to the public. We enjoyed going up to the roof to admire the scenery of its surroundings.
The double spiral staircase was unique. I really didn't like the smell of the (multitude) wood burning fireplaces.
We had a nice picnic on the grounds before visiting the herb garden & the donkeys!

Chateau de Chevenry was very unique because of the hound dogs which are still used for hunting, but the castle's architecture is not that of a castle, in my opinion, as it looks more like a huge mansion, not a castle.

Chateau de Blois, was our least favorite. It's right in the middle of the city, without the beautiful surrounding like the other chateaux. We only toured the oldest wing as recommended by RS.

Unfortunately, we did not have time to tour the interior of Chateau d'Amboise, but it's exterior is beautiful.

We loved our stay in Amboise, it was so peaceful & quiet...

It sure sounds like you're planning an amazing trip, enjoy!

Posted by
1889 posts

I was reminded by other posters that I also loved Chateau de Blois, well, not actually the Chateau itself but right outside you can see over the city and all the amazing roof tops. We didn't actually go into the Chateau and it isn't anything to look at, so I guess I'm saying a stop for the view was totally worth it for us. If you are in the area, I'd say do it for 30 minutes to soak up the view.

Posted by
12074 posts

My thinking now is these sights done in three days. I'm still deciding which direction to go. Either dropping a rental car in Saumur, after driving through Normandie and Brittany, picking up a bicycle and ending in Blois or essentially the same but the other way around.

From Saumur:

Day one: Drop the car, pick up a bike, see Fontevraud Abbey, Chinon Fortress and end in Villandry (see the gardens if still open or stay the night and visit the gardens first thing in the morning)

Day two: Start in Villandry, see Chenonceau and end in Amboise (Should be time to see the Chataeu and DaVinci's place). Stay in Amboise.

Day three: See Chaumont and Chambord then back to Blois for the night (don't really plan to see the Chateau in Blois but will go take a look at the view)

Day four: catch a train to Chartes, visit the cathedral and wander the old center, get lunch, train back into Paris.

Via Michelin figures up to four hours of bike riding each day at 10 mph. I expect I'll go at least 50 percent faster than that, faster still if I rent an electric bike. I'm 57 but more fit than most people my age. I swam 2000 meters yesterday afternoon in 35 minutes (slow compared to when I swam in my youth). Afterward a high school kid remarked what great shape I'm in - a nice, if not good for me, ego boost.

Posted by
5076 posts

It sounds like you're well prepared & ready for this bicycling trek!

Just wondering... How will you be transporting your stuff while bicycling?
Will you have a large backpack, bicycle pannier bags, or will you leave most of it somewhere?

FYI, Blois Castle sits higher than the city centre, so it will be an uphill ride to reach it, depending where you're staying.
If you stay near the train station, then you'll walk or ride downhill (not steep though), but if stay near the city center, then you'll need to walk or ride uphill.
We took a bus back to the train station because we were tired & didn't feel like walking uphill :-)

Posted by
12074 posts

Good question. I'm also a very light packer. Normally I use a campmoor essential weekend bag - the same size as Rick's convertible carry on. I've only been filling the thing about 60 percent full, however, so I bought a large daypack (not big enough to be considered a "pack") that holds about that much and I'm going with just that. If I can strap it on to the back of the bike, I will. If not, I'll wear it while I'm riding.

One of my best travel experiences was in Germany after an exchange with the German Air Force. I had packed uniforms and only a small amount of civilian clothes. When it was over, I put my uniforms in left luggage at Frankfurt then took off with only a daypack for a week. It was absolutely great. It was not only really easy to move around but it also showed me how little you really "need" to pack.

Posted by
3613 posts

If you're in France in the summer when it stays open fairly late , we went to Chenenceaux in late afternoon in July and it was quiet and peaceful-no tour buses!

Posted by
5076 posts


I agree, it really helps to travel light.

My daughter & I just returned from our trip last week & since she'd been studying abroad for a semester, she had
a 25" suitcase full of winter clothing that she wouldn't need in France.
Despite the fact that we sent a package home with the bulkiest stuff, we still struggled (sometimes) with her suitcase, which weighed
much more than I'm comfortable lifting, due to her heavy laptop!
One day while waiting for the train at the Amboise station, we saw a young couple traveling with an infant, 2 bicycles, 2 sets of
bicycle bags, plus a bike trailer for the baby! Needless to say, when the train arrived, my daughter & I helped them with the bags.
I give this couple a ton of credit!

Posted by
12074 posts

I'll be there in September, not really summer. It would be nice if things are open into the late afternoon.

Posted by
126 posts

I am a big chateau fan. We were in our 60's when we did the Loire Valley, spending 3 nights in Amboise and 3 nights in Chinon. It was very tiring trying to do 3 chateaux in a day and I felt regret when we only did two. Driving will take you much longer than you expect. Unfortunately, we were there on some drizzly days too, so that put a damper on things. If you contact the TI in Amboise online, they still might have the special ticket that is really a chateaux pass. You could never do all of them, but you already have a ticket and you can save a few euros in the ones you see. It covers most of the must-see ones.