Planning a trip to the magnificent Loire Valley? Just two hours southwest of Paris, the “Valley of Kings”– a UNESCO World Heritage site– boasts stunning castles along the mighty Loire river. Avoid the tourist crowds and head to the Château du Rivau, located near Chinon in the heart of the Touraine. This is one of the oldest castles in the Loire- with incredible architecture that’s a melange of medieval and Renaissance styles. Indeed, you can still make out the original square layout, typical of a 13th century fortified French castle.
With original frescoes and ornamental fireplaces, this chateau is straight out of a fairytale. A new sound system has been installed, really bringing history to life for visitors. Step back into time as you’re immersed into the soundtrack. You can hear a man on a horse riding into the courtyard and being met by his groom, followed by a carriage drawn by two horses over the cobblestones… In addition, there are a number of organized family activities; think ghost hunts, treasure hunts, and costumes for children to dress up like knights and princesses.
What’s more, the Château du Rivau is known for its splendid gardens, classified a Jardin remarquable (“Remarkable Gardens“) by the Ministry of Culture of France. There are 14 different gardens, all cultivated without the use of chemicals, and the Rose Conservatory boasts an impressive 450 varieties of perfumed roses. Don’t miss this!
Last but not least, the Château nurtures vegetables– many of which are celebrated regional varieties like the Barangeonnier Bean and the Touraine pumpkin– which are served in the restaurant along with other home-grown products, like Chinon wine, also produced by the castle! The Château du Rivau prides itself on this environmentally-friendly farming, and visitors are offered a lovely dining experience at lunch, celebrating the region’s terroir.
Le château du Rivau, Le Coudray, 37120 Lémeré. Tel: 02 47 95 77 47. There is an annual closure in the winter months. Prices: Adults 10,5 €; Children (5 to 18 years old): 7,00€ (Free for Kids under 5 years old). This ticket provides reduced fees at other nearby attractions like the Fontevraud Abbey, Villandry Castle and Gardens, Azay le Rideau, etc.