The Château de Chambord, built in the 16th century, is one of a kind. Its architectural design is a mix between French medieval and Italian Renaissance. The castle also features some technical innovations, which incited rumors that Leonardo da Vinci participated in the design of the castle before his death in 1519. Whether or not this is true, this castle is emblematic of François I, proponent of both French tradition and modernity, fascinated by art and culture.
The historic center of Blois offers visitors a rich historical and religious heritage in a small area. But the history of the city was especially marked by its extraordinary castle, residence of French kings during the 16th century.
National Estate of Chambord (41250)
Located less than 200 kilometers from Paris, consisting of 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces and 77 staircases, the Château de Chambord remains a symbol of the Renaissance. The castle had already been classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1981 as an "outstanding example of a type of building or architectural ensemble illustrating a significant stage in human history" when it was integrated within the designated area of the Loire Valley at its inclusion on the UNESCO list in 2000.
The Château de Chambord, built in the 16th century, is one of a kind. Its architectural design is a mix between French medieval and Italian Renaissance. The castle also features some technical innovations, which incited rumors that Leonardo da Vinci participated in the design of the castle before his death in 1519. Whether or not this is true, this castle characterizes François I, proponent of both French tradition and modernity, fascinated by art and culture.
Château de Chambord
Website - tel : 02 54 50 40 00.
Full price / reduced price: €14.50 / €12. Free for EU citizens under 26 years old (free for non-EU citizens under 18 years. Parking (€6) .
Open every day:
November through March : 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ;
April through October : 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Restaurant on site : some restaurants, snacks and tea room. Picnic allowed in the park.
Visiting the castle of Chambord
Visitors can choose among the self-guided tour (with a guide book in 14 languages) or the various tours offered. The rates shown are in addition to the entrance fee for each visitor.
Discovery tour (French and English, 1h)
Price: €5 / €3 for 5 to 17 years old
Discovery of key locations on the estate (rooms in cross-form, spiral staircase, terraces ... )
The extra-ordinary visit (2h)
Price : €7 / €5 for 5 to 17 years old
In addition to the discovery tour, you will have access to non-free open spaces visit (mezzanines, frame, side stairs ...).
Visit with Histopad (1 hour and 30 minutes)
12 languages available for adults and childen with treasure hunt.
Comprehensive visit (3h)
Weekends and holidays at 2 p.m.
Chambord with the family
Entertaining visit (1h30)
Price: €6 per adult / €4 for 5 to 17 years old
Visit with a character in period costume. Visit recommended for children 5 to 11 years old, accompanied by their parents. Tour offered on Wednesdays, weekends and during school holidays.
Cassandra the salamander’s book of Riddles
Price : €4
Cassandra the salamander invites young visitors to explore the secrets of Chambord. A fun way to visit the castle as a family.
For children ages 8 to 12 and their parents.
Visiting Chambord Park
Tour of the park in a 4x4 (duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes)
Price : €18 / €10 for 5 to 17 years old
Accompanied by a guide, visitors will discover lakes, meadows and moors in the biggest closed nature reserve in Europe.
Other activities around the castle
Boat rental, bike rental, equestrian and rapaces shows, walking trails, bike paths, observatories
History of Chambord
It was François I, the young king, who had the castle built in 1519. It was regarded by the king more as a resort than as a place of permanent residence. It was also used to showcase the power of François I and the architectural expertise of his engineers to the visiting foreign sovereigns and ambassadors. Today it remains one of the few castles that hasn’t undergone major modifications. Work began in 1519 on the ruins of a castle belonging to the Counts of Blois. The central tower was completed in 1539 and the Royal Wing to the east, in 1544. In contrast, the west side, the construction Chapel Wing continued. The two wings were connected by an enclosure around the courtyard. Upon the death of François I in 1547, the castle was still not fully completed.
François I’s successor, Henry II, continued the work on the Chapel Wing, but again work was interrupted at his death in 1559. The estate of Chambord would then experience a period of disinterest on the part of the successive kings. It was not until the next century, under Louis XIV, that the building would be fully completed by the royal architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart. It was also at this time that the estate of Chambord was created: the stables were built and the park’s river was channeled. The Sun King visited Chambord several times, accompanied by his court, resulting in large hunting parties.
After Louis XIV, the castle no longer received French sovereign visitors, but served as an accommodation for the guests of King Louis XV. He would make changes to the interiors (wood paneling, flooring, ceilings ... ) and some external sites such as the French gardens. At the end of the 18th century the castle was relatively spared by the Revolution. Certainly, its furniture and objects were looted but the castle endured no significant destruction. Offered to Marshal Berthier by Napoleon I, it returned to the private sector in 1809, and remained there throughout the 19th century before finally becoming state property in 1930.
Chambord was not a place of residence, but a resort for the kings of France. They went there only for short stays, and therefore the furniture was moved around at the whim of the kings during their stays. It is for this reason that the furniture collection is not the main attraction of the castle. However, it does have a rich collection of paintings, tapestries and objets d'art. One prestigious tapestry in particular symbolizes the rich collections of Chambord, "The Hunt of François" (early 16th century).
The main building, also called the “keep” in reference to medieval castles, is flanked by four massive corner towers. It represents the heart of the castle and expresses the military power of the king. Its originality lies in its cruciform plan whose center features the famous double spiral staircase. At that time only religious buildings had layouts in the form of a cross, and this may represent the divine dimension of the King of France. This structuring of space defined four, 3-level habitation quarters. On either side of the keep, the Royal Wing to the east and the Chapel Wing to the west complement the geometric arrangement of buildings.
The double spiral staircase
The double spiral staircase alone embodies the creative genius of the architects of the king. Around its base coil two handrails, one above the other, that serve the different floors of the main building. The central element of the castle, it is even thought that Leonardo da Vinci contributed to this design, extremely innovative and audacious for its time.
The home of François I (Royal Wing)
The first floor of the Royal Wing housed the apartments of François I. These apartments consisted of a bedroom, an oratory with a beautiful sculpted vaulted ceiling, as well as some small private cabinets (wardrobe, office). The Council Room completes the rooms in this wing.
The 17th century (main building)
On the first floor of the main building, Louis XIV set up his apartments. The visit shows the guardroom, the two antechambers of the king and his bedchamber. The Queen’s apartment was located in the tower of the northeast corner.
The 18th century
The Château of Chambord was particularly marked by the 18th century, when Louis XV housed his relatives there. Significant improvements were made to render the space more functional and comfortable : the ceilings were lowered, the large rooms were partitioned to create smaller ones (antechamber, bedchamber, office...), the walls were richly decorated with wood paneling and fabrics and the castle was abundantly furnished, such as in the chamber of the governor.
The chapel is located in one of the corner towers on two levels, making it the largest room in the castle. Construction began under François I and was completed at the end of the 17th century. The capitals of the columns alternately feature the letter "F" and the salamander, symbol of François I.
On the second floor of the main building, the four arms of the cross hall are covered with beautiful relief vaulted ceilings with lowered arcs that support the weight of the terraces on the upper level. Repeated hundreds of times, it is impossible to miss the emblems of François I: the salamander and the monogram "F" that adorn the vaults, as if the castle was under his protection.
The terraces offer a magnificent view of the castle, the park and the surrounding area. The lantern tower (56 meters high) features the lily, symbol of the kings of France, and overlooks the various roofs of the castle.
Since March 2017, the French gardens have appeared again around the castle for the greatest pleasure of the visitors.
A royal hunting estate
The forest domain of the castle, Chambord Park, extends over 5,000 hectares, roughly equal to the surface area of downtown Paris. It is the largest enclosed forest park in Europe. Though the park was initially meant as a simple hunting ground, François I wanted to create a sumptuous natural space worthy of its royal status. At the end of his reign, the estate of Chambord had reached 2500 hectares.
The park area increased during the 17th century, reaching a total area of approximately 5,540 hectares, completely surrounded 32 kilometers of walls.
A royal captaincy for hunting
In 1547, François I created a royal captaincy for hunting to protect his estate from poaching and timber theft. The local population was subject to a strict regulation and no one was allowed to hunt on the king’s land. Abolished in 1777, the management and monitoring of the park were then assigned to the Director of Stud Farms of the kingdom, the Marquis de Polignac.
The park facilities
It was during the 18th century that the park was landscaped thanks to extensive work undertaken to permanently clean the areas near the castle. Large-scale hydraulic work was completed at the same time as the garden and flowerbed arrangements on the North and East beds, and forest roads and walkways were created to facilitate the hunts. In the 19th century, much of the park was composed of woodlands.
The natural environment
The park is home to exceptional flora and fauna.
Plants : the vast majority of the area is covered with oak and pine. It also hosts more than 650 plant species, some very rare.
Wildlife : The wildlife park consists of deer (700), wild boar (about 1000) and over 150 bird species.
Chambord and Natura 2000: The national estate of Chambord is registered on the European ecological network NATURA 2000, whose main objective is the preservation of biodiversity, taking into account economic, social, cultural and regional requirements.
Events at the castle of Chambord
Numerous cultural and artistic events throughout the year. Lectures, music, fine arts, theater and dance. Contact the castle for information on the program.
Market (May through October)
A regional market takes place in the village of Chambord from May through October. Here you will find all sorts of artisanal and agricultural products from the region (cheeses, meats, jams, pastries, wines ... )