A photo guide to the Chateau de Chambord Loire Valley

Written by on February 4, 2019 in Museums and Châteaux

A chateau with dozens of towers of all shapes and sizes at Chambord Loire Valley

The Chateau de Chambord is a French Renaissance masterpiece. This jewel of the Loire Valley was begun in 1519, the year Francis 1 became King of France.

The flamboyant Francis I loved to put on a show and at Chambord, his imagination ran wild. This grand castle in true Renaissance style was designed to shout to the world that this was the home of the greatest King that ever lived.

The enormous Chateau de Chambord

Aerial view of the Chateau de Chambord up close to its towers sticking up like peaks on a pie

426 rooms (60 of which are open to the public). 83 staircases including a double helix staircase said to have been at the very least inspired by (if not designed by) Leonardo da Vinci. 282 fireplaces (never enough to keep it warm). A tumultuous plethora of tall towers and turrets.

Double helix staircase, intertwined steps lead up one side, down the other and don't meet in the middle

The double helix staircase mirrors the same structure as DNA! No one can say for sure that the staircase is the work of Leonardo da Vinci. But, he left behind drawings of this style of staircase and even one for a quadruple staircase.

Straight out of a fairy tale, Chambord is an absolute dream of a castle bought to life. It’s been called an “example of architectural megalomania”. Victor Hugo said it was “admirably bizarre”.

Chateau de Chambord under a dusky pink sky it's towers and turrets reach high into the sky

It was outrageously expensive to build. There were more than 2000 workmen employed on its creation. In fact the King ran out of money before it was completed despite raiding the treasuries of churches and grabbing silver from his subjects. When he was captured in battle in Italy in 1525, just 6 years after the first stone of Chambord was laid, he gave up his sons to take his place. Then found he couldn’t ransom them due to lack of funds. Work went on in in fits and starts but by the time he died aged 52 in 1547, the King had only spent 50 days t there in total.

UNESCO World heritage site

Hot air balloons float over the Chateau de Chambord, clearly showing how it is surrounded on three sides by a moat

Today it is a UNESCO world heritage site and much loved monument to the Renaissance in the Loire Valley. The Chateau de Chambord is a truly amazing example of the style of the day. The castle grounds cover around 13,500 hectares, roughly the size of inner Paris. It’s the largest enclosed park in Europe, with boundary walls covering 20 miles. You can discover it on foot, by bike, horse, 4×4 or horse and carriag. There are 20km of trails to explore in the forest.

Inside the Chateau de Chambord, rooms with rich furnishings and paintings

Inside there are 4,500 works of art, tapestries, paintings and furnishings. On cold days some of the fires are lit giving it a homely feeling so that you can imagine how it must have been when the court were in residence. In some of the rooms actors dressed in the costumes of the day regale visitors with stories and anecdotes.

Formal gardens with hedges and lines of trees, riders on horseback in costumes of 16th century

A new formal garden was inaugurated in 2017 with thousands of trees, plants and roses and the terrace overlooking it, with its central great lantern tower is magnificent. In the grounds, actors on horseback roam the park evoking a spirit of the past and its grand heyday.

A chateau with its own village

Small village with shpps, wine bar, hotel and restaurants at the Chateau de Chambord

There’s even a small village of shops and café’s. Don’t miss the fabulous biscuiterie where you can taste the local liqueur Chambord. There’s also a wine tasting store. You can even stay here at the 4* hotel Relais de Chambord. And, there’s a fabulous restaurant which overlooks the Chateau. It has to be one of the most extraordinary views to enjoy lunch or dinner anywhere in the world.

Before Chambord, medieval chateaux were the norm. This chateau ushered in a new style of building and a new art of living. Things in France would never be the same again.

Read more about the Chateau de Chambord here.

More on the castles of the Loire Valley

Chateau de Chenonceau in photos
Chateau d’Anet, where Diane de Poitiers preferred to live after she was evicted from the Chateau de Chenonceau
Chateau de Chambord, the French Renaissance jewel of the Loire Valley
Azay-le-Rideau, a castle of pure enchantment
Chateau de Blois, an incredible history and a beautiful chateau
Chaumont, the chateau that is also a centre of gardening
Fairy tale castle of Rivau with its enchanted gardens

Related Articles

The Halle de la Machine in Toulouse

When I was a kid I was entranced by stories of mythical beasts. My favourite tale was of a Minotaur who roamed a labyrinth on the Greek island of Crete. Small me believed that Minotaurs, a species which had the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man, really lived, much […]

Continue Reading

Potager du Roi – The kings vegetable garden at Versailles

A short walk from the Palace of Versailles you’ll find the “King’s Vegetable Garden” – the Potager du Roi. It was built between 1678 and 1683 by French gardening genius Jean-Baptiste La Quintinie, at the request of Louis XIV. Open to the public, gardeners will love its beautiful paths, raised beds, statues and fabulous planting… […]

Continue Reading

There are loads of Free Museums in Paris

In Paris (and indeed the rest of France), many museums are free year-round. And, if you’re thinking that the free museums are only for hanging out in when its raining and you need a place to shelter, you couldn’t be more wrong. We’re talking top museums that you’d want to go to anyway including the […]

Continue Reading

The Musee de Compagnonnage Tours, Loire Valley

I stood on a balcony at the Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley. My eyes travelled over thousands of thin, black slate tiles that cascaded down spires in stark contrast to sculpted contours of ivory coloured stone. There were endless details that drew my eye from one piece of artistry to the next. I […]

Continue Reading

La Piscine Museum Roubaix | An art deco wonder in the north of France

Roubaix is in the suburbs of Lille, capital of Hauts-de-France (Nord, Pas de Calais, Picardy). It was once famous for its textile production, an industry which had been active in the area since the 14th century. In the 19th century Roubaix was known as the “French Manchester”, one of the world capitals of textiles. It […]

Continue Reading


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.