• Chambord Castle in Loire France

    8 of Our Favorite European Castles

    From the fabled location of King Arthur’s birth to an ornately decorated vacation home for noble families, there’s no question that castles run the gambit of historical significance (not to mention their architectural significance). With that in mind, we put together a list of 8 of our favorite European castles.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><b>1. Château de Chenonceau, Loire &amp; Burgundy</b> </a>- Arguably the most magnificent and romantic of all châteaux, Chenonceau spans the river and has been the home of six great ladies throughout history. Among them are its builder, Catherine Briconnet, who built it as a home rather than a fortification; Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of Henry II, who added the bridge between the house and the banks of the river; and Catherine de Medici, Henry&#39;s wife. Madame Dupin, who owned the château during the French Revolution, was so kind to the lower classes who lived around the château that it was allowed to survive free from the destruction suffered by many other wealthy homes.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><img alt="Chateau de Chenonceau in Loire France" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jWcJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><b>2. Château de Villandry, Loire &amp; Burgundy</b></a> - Not far down the Loire River, Villandry is home to spectacular geometric-shaped gardens with their zigzagging hedges, flowerbeds, vegetable plots and a swan-filled lake. The château itself, has a wonderful collection of paintings, lovely rooms and the magnificent gilded ceiling imported from Toledo, Spain.<br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><img alt="Chateau de Villandry in Loire France" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jWcO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">3. Broughton Grange Castle, Cotswolds</a></b> – Surrounded by a moat, it dates back to the 1550’s. The grand interiors were featured in the BBC production of <i>Wolf Hall, </i>and the manicured gardens are some of the country’s finest. What better setting to pause for an elegant afternoon tea?<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank"><img alt="Broughton Castle in Cotswolds" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jX2I" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scotland/" target="_blank">4. Urquhart Castle, Scottish Highlands</a> </b>- Even if the name isn’t familiar, you’ll recognize the distinctive profile of this magnificent ruin on the shores of Loch Ness. Built in the early 13<sup>th</sup> Century, it sits on a fine headland near the stretch of the loch where many of the reputed Nessie sightings occurred.<br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/scotland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Urquhart Castle - Scotland" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jWcT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cornwall/" target="_blank">5. Tintagel Castle, Cornwall</a></b> -  this is where, according to legend, King Arthur was born. When the conquering Normans reached the westernmost land of England, they heard that the ancient seat of Cornwall’s kings had stood atop this soaring headland, surrounded on three sides by the ceaseless surge of the Atlantic. Earl Richard of Cornwall, younger brother of Henry III, decided to build a castle on the spot where his legendary predecessors had held court.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/cornwall/" target="_blank"><img alt="Tintagel Castle in Cornwall" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jX2N" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><b>6. Chambord Castle, Loire &amp; Burgundy</b></a> – located in the heart of a forest, where the French sovereigns used to hunt, Chateau de Chambord is one of France’s most recognizable castles, with a combination of French medieval and classical Renaissance architecture. The centerpiece of the chateau is the double spiral staircase that spans three floors. It is rumored to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><img alt="Chambord Castle in Loire" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jX2S" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/portugal/" target="_blank"><b>7. Pena National Palace, Portugal</b></a> -  The Sintra region was long a favorite site for royal retreats, estates and castles. The most stellar example is Pena National Palace. You’ll be delighted by this treasure of the Romanticist style with beautiful exterior views of its soaring jumble of red, ocher and pink towers.<br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/portugal/" target="_blank"><img alt="Pena Palace in Portugal" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jWcY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank">8. Prague Castle, Prague</a></b> – this UNESCO world heritage site is credited as being the largest coherent castle complex in the world. Its more than 753,000 square feet, is home to palaces, cathedrals, towers, gardens, grand halls, and much more. Dating back to the 9<sup>th</sup> century, Prague Castle has been the seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Roman emperors, as well as presidents of Czechoslovakia, and most recently the president of the Czech Republic.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><img alt="Gardens at Prague Castle" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmBn&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jWcd" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a>

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  • Castle on the water in Loire, France

    Sometimes good enough just isn't

    <p>The setting was idyllic. There we were, lounging on the deck of our luxury barge during the first leg of our weeklong Classic Journey to the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank">Loire Valley and Burgundy</a> Canal in France. Yet even as we happily chatted away with our friends who own the barge, we couldn’t leave well enough alone.</p> <p>Lulled by our leisurely pace, we observed that the two suites on board were so welcoming, it would be great if all the cabins could be suites. Our hosts chuckled and said, “Yes, that’s an interesting idea.” Not long after we returned home, we received a thank-you note for putting the idea into their minds, along with an announcement that-<i>voila!</i> -all the cabins were being converted into suites. (Who knew our opinion carried so much clout?)</p> <p>What it means for guests on our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank">Loire’s Chateaux &amp; Burgundy’s Canals Cultural Walking Adventure</a> is this: without any increase in price, our three-night canal cruise is now an all-suite experience. Each meal prepared by our personal floating chef is included, as is the open bar. And our experience is no less <i>luxe</i> in Loire, where Classic Journeys guests take up residence for three nights at a graceful riverside chateau, each room overlooking lovely gardens and the Chateau d’Amboise that towers over the town.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank"><img alt="Manoir les Minimes" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7pF&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002tZv" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>If you’ve ever spoken with me personally about our walking trips, you know I love to wax eloquent about our accommodations. But in Loire and Burgundy, our cultural, historic and culinary explorations are every bit as memorable.</p> <p><br>Over the course of our 7-day canal-boating and walking tour, we enjoy a wine tasting in the cellar of a former monastery, visit fortified villages like Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, and follow a path along the water’s edge to Chenonceaux-arguably the most magnificent and romantic of all chateaux. Bicycles stowed on board the barge allow us to go ashore for rides into the surrounding countryside and along the towpath, complementing the guided walks we take each day. And last but certainly not least, we savor the fresh ingredients from this bountiful region known as <i>The Garden of France</i>.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank">Loire and Burgundy vacation </a>is proof that even great things become better on a Classic Journey. If you’ve had an occasion where a travel suggestion of yours was taken to heart, drop me an e-mail at <a href="mailto:blog@classicjourneys.com" target="_blank">blog@classicjourneys.com</a>. And if you’d like more information about our trip to Loire &amp; Burgundy, please <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/loire/" target="_blank">click here</a>.</p>

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