Fairy tale Christmas at the Châteaux

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By Constance Dive

For the festive season, the chateaux of the Loire Valley don their most resplendent finery. Christmas trees in all their guises, wonderful wreaths, fantastic beasts, and plenty of delicious treats all fill the chateaux with the magic of a Christmas fit for a king!

The Chambord Castle

Christmas at Château de Chambord. Photo: Leonard de Serres

The most majestic of the chateaux of the Loire Valley is offering a programme of events tailored to the end of the year. The magic of Christmas is present from the moment you enter the castle, with Christmas trees illuminating the alleys just before nightfall and glittering garlands adorning the French gardens. The Chateau de Chambord benefits from a rational lighting of its facades with LED bulbs. Throughout the tour, the atmosphere is festive and warm, starting with the double revolution staircase and the chapel, which are decorated for Christmas. Several activities are organised to enhance the visit: public readings of Christmas tales, meetings with Father Christmas, trumpet concerts, costumed parades, medieval and Renaissance dances, artistic fencing, period games such as the popular trou-madame, a derivative of billiards… not forgetting the Christmas show recounting the reign of François I with humour.

Leonardo da Vinci’s last home

Christmas decorations in Leonardo da Vinci’s last home. Photo: Leonard de Serres

Christmas decorations in Leonardo da Vinci’s last home, a carriage ride in the park with explanations from a guide dressed as Leonardo da Vinci followed by hot chocolate, painting workshops on Christmas ornaments or greeting cards, creation of a perfume with the scent of Christmas, the end of the year promises to be magical at the Château du Clos Lucé. The festivities will culminate on 27 December with a performance of a musical comedy dedicated to children with improvisations and visual arts.

The Chenonceau Castle

At Christmas, floral art is invited to the Château de Chenonceau. Photo: Jean-Christophe Coutand

Elegance, grace and fragrance are the order of the day for the Christmas festivities with a parade of queens in dresses, each more surprising than the last, just a few days before Christmas Eve. To celebrate the end of the year as it should be, the know-how of the Chenonceau floral workshop is on display in the residence of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Médicis. From room to room, the floral compositions created by the designer Jean François Boucher, Meilleur Ouvrier de France, are revealed. The visitor discovers tables decorated with moss, mushrooms and foliage, garnished with chocolate and decorated with candleholders.

Workshops on floral art and French savoir-vivre are also offered to give ideas for decorating and avoid any false notes during the Christmas meal.

The Azay-le-Rideau Castle

A gourmet Christmas at Azay-le-Rideau. Photo: Leonard de Serres

What’s Christmas without its traditional sweet treats? At Azay-le-Rideau, your sweet tooth is the guest of honour! In addition to the treats laid out in every room, you can also discover the chateau’s collections from a gourmet perspective, with guided tours on the themes of chocolate’s introduction to France and Renaissance feasts. Don’t forget your goodie bag of spices and treats!

The Royal City of Loches

For the festive season, the Royal City of Loches plunges visitors into the world of Grinch, a grumpy character inspired by the Christmas tale How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Theodor Seuss, written in 1957. Visit the ground floor of the royal dwelling to discover a spectacular setting. The exhibition room in the dungeon is also dressed in Christmas clothes for the pleasure of children (and adults). Several activities are offered during the festive period, including storytelling in public, a night visit with Christmas concerts by the Tours symphony orchestra and a visit on the theme of winter in medieval times.

The Castle of Langeais

In Langeais, you can discover the treasures of a Medieval Christmas. Extraordinary dishes like pheasant and peacock – feathers and all! – will adorn the banquet table, while luxurious garments await their wearers in the chateau’s bedrooms. You can also admire the floral displays made especially for Christmas, including the opulently decorated Christmas tree in the feasting hall. Several activities are on the Christmas agenda: learn calligraphy in the scribe class as you make your own Christmas card, or enjoy a storytelling walk with a guide in character.

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