An Enchanting Loire Valley Chateaux 3-day Itinerary

Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through them, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. It's one of the ways we keep bringing you free content. Learn more in our Disclosure Policy.

Road trip on a magical three-day journey through the Loire Valley with our crafted itinerary, designed to guide you through the most enchanting chateaux along the Loire River.

From the storied walls of Château de Chambord to the elegant Château de Chenonceau, this itinerary will immerse you in the region’s aristocratic history and Renaissance architecture.

A journey through the UNESCO-listed Loire Valley is not just a tour; it’s a step back into the grandeur of France’s royal past.

As part of our European motorhome adventure, our northward motorhome journey through France begins with this spectacular introduction to the Loire Valley’s fairytale chateaux.

Loire Valley Chateaux: Quick Overview

Chateau d’Usse – The stuff of fairytales

Day 1: Chateau d’Usse

Start your exploration of the Loire Valley by exploring Chateau d’Usse, often cited as the inspiration for the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Here, the romance of history whispers through its towers and gardens. Visit the towns of Saumur and Rigny-Ussé.

The pretty Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau

Day 2: Château de Azay-le-Rideau

Wander the graceful halls of Château de Azay-le-Rideau, set on its own reflective island, a true jewel of Renaissance elegance.

Chateau De Villandry chateau and gardens

Day 2: Château de Villandry

Stroll through the stunning gardens of Château de Villandry, where love blooms among the meticulously arranged floral displays and ornamental vegetables.

Chenonceau Chateau – Loire Valley

Day 3: Château de Chenonceau

Visit Château de Chenonceau, a masterpiece of beauty stretching across the River Cher, known as the Château des Dames for its history of influential female owners.

Chateaux de Chambord in the Loire Valley

Day 3: Château de Chambord

Conclude with Château de Chambord, an architectural wonder whose majestic facades and spiralling towers offer a grand finale to your fairy-tale journey.

Map: 3-Day Itinerary of Loire Valley Chateaux

Chateau Villandry gardens
Chateau Villandry Gardens ©Lifejourney4two

Planning a Trip to France?

Best 5 Loire Valley Chateaux To Visit in 3-Days

The Loire Valley is home to over 300 chateaux, making it tough to pick just the best few. However, we managed it. Our selection is based on the architectural style, history and any emotional connection we had.

Our spring visit to the Loire Valley was perfectly timed, avoiding the Summer crowds. This gave us time to fully enjoy and absorb the beautiful views around us.

This 3-day itinerary totals only 150km. This is great news as you don’t have any big drives and can dedicate the time to doing the things you want. We drove this road trip from west to east, but it can be driven in any direction.

Loire Valley chateaux road trip

Day 1: Chateau D’Usse

Entering the Pays de la Loire after visiting several amazing Dordogne villages, we continued north to our first stop, the Chateau D’Usse.

This exquisite castle is said to have inspired the tale of Sleeping Beauty and has been associated with many other Walt Disney movies. It is indeed the stuff of fairytales.

Chateau d’Usse – The stuff of fairytales
Chateau d’Usse – The stuff of fairytales ©Lifejourney4two

It has been a family home for more than two centuries and still to this day, remains the private residence of the Duke of Blacas and his family.

The best photographic views are taken from the bridge, Pont sur l’Indre.

For more information, such as opening hours and prices go to the Chateau d’Ussy website.

Chateau d’Usse – Loire Valley
Chateau d’Usse – Loire Valley ©Lifejourney4two

Day 2: Chateau D’Azay-Le-Rideau

Set on an island in the Indre River that feeds into the Loire River, this exquisite chateau is a lovely example of French Renaissance architecture and was once a 12th-century feudal castle.

The pretty Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau
The pretty Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau ©Lifejourney4two

Construction of this chateau was slow and complex, as the river silt did not make for a very solid foundation. The building’s large stones had to be transported from a site 100 kilometres away.

The French State purchased the Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau in the early 20th century and it joined the distinguished list of Loire Valley UNESCO World Heritage sites, along with the other chateaux in this post.

For more information, such as opening hours and prices go to the Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau website.

The pretty stream at the Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau
The pretty stream on the boundary of the Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau ©Lifejourney4two

Day 2: Chateau De Villandry

Originally a 14th-century fortress, the Chateau De Villandry you see today was built around the fortress’ old keep.

The expansive Chateau de Villandry gardens have continually altered their theme over time. They are our pick for the most beautiful gardens on this Loire Valley itinerary.

Chateau De Villandry gardens
Chateau De Villandry manicured gardens ©Lifejourney4two
Chateau De Villandry chateau and gardens
Chateau De Villandry chateau with swathes of clipped Boxhedge ©Lifejourney4two

Originally Renaissance styled, these gardens were replaced with an English theme, and then in the early 20th century, returned to the beautiful ornamental Renaissance gardens and hedgerows that are present today.

Swathes of clipped Boxhedge at Villandry, Loire Valley ©Lifejourney4two

The ornamental garden is planted with love symbols, representing fickle, tender, passionate, and tragic love.

Our early spring visit meant that many flowers weren’t blooming. However, this was offset by the chateau interior which was luxuriously appointed. This decorative splendour was typical for the era.

Villandry, Loire Valley trellices
Villandry and its many trellis ©Lifejourney4two

Although we often prefer to admire stunning architectural masterpieces from the outside, we made an exception for Chateau Villandry. After joining a tour, we walked inside the chateau for a couple of hours, marvelling at how life was so many centuries ago. It was an eye-opener and really worth it.

For opening times and prices visit the Chateau of Villandry website.

The finery inside Chateau Villandry
The finery inside Chateau Villandry ©Lifejourney4two

Day 3: Chateau De Chenonceau

The Chateau de Chenonceau, built in 1576, is a beautifully situated and exquisitely fashioned chateau spanning the River Cher, not far from the Loire River. It is often called the ‘Ladies Chateau’ because many prominent French women have lived here over time.

In its time, the chateau has housed scholars, academics and philosophers and in more recent years, served as a military hospital in WWI.

You cannot help but be irresistibly drawn to the beauty of its architecture and we found this to be our favourite of all the chateaux in the Loire Valley we visited on this itinerary.

The exquisite Chateau de Chenonceau
The exquisite Chateau de Chenonceau  .. our favourite in the Loire Valley ©Lifejourney4two

Loire Valley Tip: Fantastic free views of Chenonceau (we were told this tip from a cleaning lady we met in the chateau car park)

Cross to the southern river bank via a bridge to the east of the chateau. Once across, follow a trail that takes you right past the back entrance to Chenonceau. If you need the parking spot that we used for our motorhome then this is where we parked off the D976 roadway. It really is worth it for these fantastic views.

Chenonceau Chateau – Loire Valley
Chenonceau Chateau – Loire Valley ©Lifejourney4two

For more information, including opening times and prices visit the Chenonceau Chateau website.

Day 3: Chateau De Chambord

With its French Renaissance architecture, this unfinished chateau (building ceased in 1547), is the largest in the Loire Valley.

Sitting on about 13,500 acres, it was primarily used as a short-stay hunting lodge. At that time, with no nearby villages to supply food, the château residents hunted the animals within the forest.

Chateaux de Chambord in the Loire Valley
Chateaux de Chambord in the Loire Valley ©Lifejourney4two

Would you believe that the chateau was not permanently furnished? Guests needed to bring their own furniture.

Chateau de Chambord’s intricate architecture
Chateau de Chambord’s intricate architecture ©Lifejourney4two
Moat around Chateau de Chambord – Loire Valley 
Moat around Chateau de Chambord – Loire Valley ©Lifejourney4two

During World War II, many art collections from the Louvre Museum in Paris were secretly stored there.

Not only that but It is also the site where an American B-24 Liberator bomber crashed. The two surviving pilots were secretly hidden in nearby villages and re-joined their own forces some months later.

A memorial plaque commemorates this event. The plaque can be found to the northeast of the chateau, just off a walkway that borders the chateau’s moat.

For more information, including opening hours and prices visit the Chambord Chateau website.

Commemorative plaque outside the grounds of Chateau de Chambord - Loire Valley Itinerary

Accommodation for this Loire Valley Valley Itinerary

Motorhome and Camper Stops for this Loire Valley Itinerary

Day 1 (Chateau D’Ussy)

Motorhome Stop: Aire Le Lac Mousseau

 Day 2 (Chateau D’Azay-Le-Rideau; Chateau Villandry)

Motorhome Camp: Domaine Badiller 

 Day 3 (Chateau De Chenonceau; Chateau Du Chambord)

Motorhome Stop: Chambord Aire

Hotels, B&Bs and Rooms for this Loire Valley Itinerary

Day 1 (Chateau D’Ussy)

 Day 2 (Chateau D’Azay-Le-Rideau; Chateau Villandry)

 Day 3 (Chateau De Chenonceau; Chateau Du Chambord)

How to Get to the Loire Valley

  • Both Nantes and Tours have international airports.
  • Trains run from Paris to Tours, Angers, and Nantes, with Angers having the closest train station to Saumur. The national train line is SNCF, and you can book SNCF tickets online here.

Driving in the Loire Valley: 3-Day Chateaux Itinerary

Driving this short road trip and having the freedom to adjust your Loire Valley itinerary to suit your timings and tastes is probably the best way to explore the area.

If you don’t have your own transport, we recommend Discover Cars for the best car rental deal.

If you are looking to hire a motorhome — which gives you even more flexibility on your Loire Valley Itinerary then we use, and can highly recommend,  Motorhome Republic which finds the best deal for you in the country where you require the motorhome.

Loire Valley Itinerary – What You Need to Know About Driving in France

  • In France, you drive on the right.
  • You will need to have the following documents:
    • Drivers licence (An international driver’s licence isn’t required)
    • Vehicle insurance
    • Vehicle registration document
    • Passport
  • You are also required to have the following in your vehicle:
  • Driving a right-hand drive vehicle in France requires adjustments to the front headlight beam patterns so that the dipped beam doesn’t dazzle oncoming drivers. You can purchase cheap beam deflectors to deflect the beam, which are just stickers placed in a specific spot for your make/model of vehicle, which is in the instructions.
    We used these on our front headlamps. Just be aware that if you have an accident when your lights are in use without these deflectors in place, then insurance claims may be voided.
  • Many of the motorways have tolls. To avoid them you can program your navigator to avoid tolls and you can also use to plan your trip and find out the costs of tolls etc.
  • Speed Limits are as follows unless otherwise signposted and on dry roads
    • 130 km/h (80 mph) on toll motorways
    • 110 km/h (68 mph) on dual carriageways and motorways without tolls
    • 80 km/h (50 mph) on other roads
    • 50 km/h (31 mph) in towns. The town name starts with the limit, a bar through the town name is the de-restriction sign

Loire Valley Chateaux 3-Day Itinerary … That’s a Wrap

This 3 day Loire Valley itinerary includes the five most beautiful Loire Valley Chateaux to visit.

However,  as mentioned already, there are many more Loire Valley chateaux to whet your appetite. Nonetheless, this selection will give you a delicious taster of the French Renaissance era.

If you enjoy the Loire Valley fairytale chateaux, you may also be interested in a road trip through the Alsace in northeast France. An area filled with delightful medieval half-timbered houses — straight out of a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale.

If you are a family travelling, check out the TraveLynn Family suggestions for the Best Chateaux in the Loire Valley to visit with Kids. Should you have extra days in the Loire Valley, you might consider visiting some of the other intriguing chateaux.

Are there any other chateaux that left you feeling just wonderstruck? We’d love to hear from you.

Pin and save for later

Loire Valley Itinerary Pinterest pin


Planning Your Travels?

These are the travel resources we recommend and use when planning our trips.

For a more thorough list, visit our Travel Resources page here.

Photo of author


Lars, grew up in the Australian countryside and discovered his love for nature early on. Leaving Australia at 20, he began a life of travel and exploration. As a co-owner of Lifejourney4two with Shelley, Lars captures their journeys through his photography. Join him here and see the world through his lens.

6 thoughts on “An Enchanting Loire Valley Chateaux 3-day Itinerary”

  1. These chateàus really do give you a magical, fairy-tale aura! As if like you implied at the beginning of the post like they’re hidden treasures.



Leave a comment

Pin It on Pinterest