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Le Mont Saint Michel Abbey Lower Normandy, in the department of Manche, France

FRANCE

The Land of Fairy-tale Castles

Tours

Tours is the city which may be the best place to stay while exploring the castles of the Loire Valley.  It is less than a 2 hours by car or train to several castles-Chateaus from there.

Here is a map of castles near Tours, France.

Tours Cathedral Cathédrale Saint-Gatien

Tours Cathedral Cathédrale Saint-Gatien

Château d'Ussé Sleeping beauty's castle France

Château d’Ussé Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

Château d’Ussé 

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is a classic fairy-tale looking castle off the banks of the Lorie river.  It is said to have inspired the writing of the Sleeping Beauty.   The tale of Sleeping Beauty is depicted by mannequins set up in each room of one part of the castle.

Château de Villandry

Château de Villandry castle pano France
Château de Villandry is an unexpected treat! The castle it’s self is very nice and worth visiting but the grounds are unparrelled. The formal gardens are amazing.  There are many differnt gardens and each one is a master piece! There is even a hedge maze!  The knot work gardens on the side of castle are a site to behold.  Fortunatly, they can be seen from windows on the upper floors of the castle as well as from a walkway which runs the lenght of the garden and behind the castle.  Plan to have a whole day to throughly explore and appreciate this castle and grounds.

Click on the slider below to see a small sample.  

Chateau de Villandry grounds and interior are beautiful.

Château de Chenonceau castle great hall France

Chateau de Chenonceau

View of the great hall. 

Château de Chenonceau 

Château de Chenonceau one of the most spectacular castles in the world.   It has held my #2 spot on the list of favorite castle in the world since I went there the first time in 2004! It is considerd a woman’s castle as most of the owners over the years have been females.  It was one of the first castles to have running water due to the river it is built over.  They also harnessed the rivers power for other inventive ideas such as turning the spit in the kitchen’s hearth!  There is are very nice formal gardens, a hedge maze as well as lots of wooded walking paths on the grounds.  It is worth several hours of time if not the day to explore it fully.

Château de Chenonceau Castle France

Château de Chenonceau from the side is quite impressive. 

Château de Chambord

This is a very impressive castle.  The archeticture is uniqe and interesting.  It has an impressive silhouette.  The roof is covered in turrets and chimneys. Chateau de Chambord has 282 chimneys to be exact. The entrance fee include access to the roof which is just as remarkable up close as it is from afar.

The chateau has many rooms open to the public and several of its many staircases.  This includes the center piece of the castle, which is a double helix style staircase.  In the staircase there are cutouts on every floor which you can play peek-a-boo with people on the staircase on the otherside.  Then center is open which allows a good view all the way from the bottom to the top of the castle.

Château de Chambord castle helix staircase

Château de Chambord

Double Helix Stairway
Château de Chambord Castle France

Chateau de Chambord

Château de Chaumont beautiful on the outside but way overpriced and very disappointing on the inside.  The displays on the upper floors were of modern art amongst rooms which were in need of or in the process of being refurbished.  It was sorely disappointing. 

Things to Do and See

(Other than visiting Paris and Châteaux.)

Nantes

Nantes is a beautiful town by it’s own rights.  It even has it’s own resident castle.  The really interesting and unique thing about Nantes in the Southwest region of France is Les Machines de l’île. This is an amazing place which has 3 separate attractions to visit.

The Galerie des Machines which features several mechanical sculptures,  The Grand Eléphant a giant mechanical elephant, and The Carrousel des Mondes Marins a 3 story carousel. The attractions are each priced separatly there is a ticket which includes all the attractions (though it appears to ride the carousel is addition cost) and if you had a whole day to explore the place it would be worth it.

The Galerie des Machines is an interactive attraction which resembles a garden landscape. The machines inside resemble things which might be found in a garden like caterpillars, birds and such.

Le Grand Elephant Nantes France

The Gand Elephant

Watch out or you might get wet!

The Grand Eléphant 

If you want to take a ride on  The Grand Eléphant you will need to plan and buy tickets in advance as they sell out quickly! The walking elephant is approximately 3 stories tall.  It also has a movable trunk which sprays water at the ride operators whim so be careful when walking near by you might get wet!  The elephant walks from where the loading platform at the museum is to the one at the carousel and back.

The Carrousel des Mondes Marins

The Carrousel des Mondes Marins is unlike any other carrousel in the world.  It does not have the static animals which have poles protruding from their backs, this carousel has three levels of different machines shaped like animals and objects which are found in or around the ocean!  There are many choices a cuttlefish, angler fish, flying fish, crab, submarine, merhorses and much more!  They are not cute and cuddly creatures but very ominous and a bit creepy looking.  This is not an attraction for very young children as they would not be able to operate most of the machines. Most of the machines have more than one seat on them and each seat allows the rider/operator to move part of the machine using levers and peddles  This makes it one of the few attractions which having a bit of a crowd makes it more interesting! The more people who ride the more the machines come to life. Some of the machines had more than 5 seats available for riders.  The hardest part is picking which part of which machine to ride!

Carmargue

The horses of Carmarue or Camarguais are famous. Like their more famous cousins the Lipizzaner they are born with a dark coat which turns white when they mature.  However they may look grey due to the fact there skin remains black under the white hair.  These horses are thought to be one of the oldest breeds.  They can still be found roaming around the marshlands which make up this area in the South of France.  They are one of the tourist attractions in the area.  People come to see and or ride these hearty horses.  

Beware of the misquitos in the area as they are quite pleantify in the area due to ideal breeding grounds the marshes provide.  

Trail ride on the Horses of Camargue in the south of France

Riding Horses of Camargue

Trail ride on the Horses of Camargue in the South of France in Europe

Horses of Camargue France

Horses of Camargue

Trail ride on the Horses of Camargue in the South of France in Europe

There are lots of things to do in France!

For list of French Chateaus and the contact info click here

For more information about these and other sites visit this blog www.planetware.com 

Clickfunnel challenge

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