Visit the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

by makingamark

Pay a virtual visit to the Château of Azay-le-Rideau - one of a number of Châteaux located in the Touraine very near the Loire and Indre Rivers in central France.

The Château of Azay-le-Rideau

one of the Châteaux of the Loire and Indre | photo by Katherine Tyrrell
The Château of Azay-le-Rideau
The Château of Azay-le-Rideau

Introducing the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

one of the Châteaux of the Loire and Indre

The Château of Azay-le-Rideau looks like it's come straight out of a fairytale book.  This Renaissance Chateau is surrounded by water and parkland.  To visit it I had to cross a bridgeover the River Indre to get to its main entrance.

This is one of the smaller Château in the area of the Loire and Indre but it's exceptionally stylish, with turrets at every corner.  The main staircase is an important feature as it was one of the first in France to be built with straight flights which were part of the interior of the building.  It also has some wonderful stone carvings.  It has just two stories and then attics in the roofspace.  All in all, it is an excellent example of French sixteenth century architecture

It was built by Gilles de Berthelot between1518 and 1529.  His role was Treasurer to King François I and as might be expected, he was a wealthy man in his own right.  His wife Philippa was responsible for supervising the work.

The chateau is actually located and built on the foundations of a much older medieval fortress which was burned down.

Inside you can visit a range of rooms from the State apartments to the kitchen and see colourful and intricate tapestries and fascinating and sometimes funny stone carvings of naughty cherubs and animals.

You might think it stands quite high in the water.  However you need to remember that this is not a moat with a static and controllable water level.  The water is a real river - the River Indre - which is going to change in levels through the seasons and over time.  However the flow has been slowed right down - which means that the water around about has a mirror-like surface.  This, of course reflects the Château and its turrets which gives its an even greater impact.

It has been owned by the French State since 1905 and today it is run by the Centre des monuments nationaux (click the link and listen to very nice man speak to you in French!).

Azay-le-Rideau is located in the Indre-et-Loire département, of the Centre région, in central France.  This département, has a very large number of chateaux lying near one or the other of two important rivers which give it its name.

I'd HIGHLY RECOMMEND a visit to the Château of Azay-le-Rideau.  Allow a minimum of 90 minutes.

More about the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

Château of Azay-le-Rideau | The Centre des monuments nationaux
On the Unesco World Heritage list.

French Monthly | Castle of Azay le Rideau
Azay-le-Rideau is a small castle, charming and romantic. It is located in the Loire Valley, 15 miles southwest of Tours (and about 150 miles southwest of Paris).

An overview of the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

The Château of Azay-le-Rideau was built from 1515 to 1527, one of the earliest French Renaissance châteaux. Built on an island in the Indre River, its foundations rise straight out of the water.

Location of the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

Where to find the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

see the Google map above and the location details below

Azay-Le-Rideau is located some15 miles south west of Tours in the Centre region of France.

It's south east of the River Loire and it's very well signposted!

  • if following the D952 cross the River Loire at Langeais to pick up the D7
  • if following the D7 south west from Tours, pick up the D57 at Lignieres de Touraine
  • follow the D57 from the Loire.  Note this turns south just before the chateau while you need to keep going east.
  • the River Indre is built on an island in the middle of the River Indre.  This creates the water which surrounds the chateau on all sides.
  • the entrance is off the Rue Pineau (the road going east away from Azay-le-Rideau)
  • My recollection is that there is no parking in the vicinity of the chateau and that you have to park in the town and walk for a few minutes.  It's very pleasant to walk by the river as we did.

GPS details: Latitude : 47.2596 Longitude : 0.4666

Interior of the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

Château of Azay-le-Rideau - Bedroom
Château of Azay-le-Rideau - Bedroom

Stained glass windows in the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

looking out to the River Indre
Stained glass windows in the Château of Azay-le-Rideau
Stained glass windows in the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

Wonderful stone carvings

One of the big features of the Chateau is the amount and the quality of the stone carvings.

Two of the major carvings are of a salamander (which you find in various forms all over the chateau) and the ermine.  These are both official emblems

  • The emblem of King Francis I is the salamander
  • Reine Claude of France was the Queen consort to her King Francis I - her emblem was the ermine.

The salamander emblem of the The Château of Azay-le-Rideau

emblem of Francis I - the chateau was built by the King's Treasurer
The salamander emblem of the The Château of Azay-le-Rideau
The salamander emblem of the The Château of Azay-le-Rideau

The ermine of the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

emblem of Reine Claude de France, wife of Francis I
The ermine of the Château of Azay-le-Rideau
The ermine of the Château of Azay-le-Rideau

Great Autumn leaf display in the garden

one of the benefits of visiting in October
Garden of the The Château of Azay-le-Rideau
Garden of the The Château of Azay-le-Rideau

A small park rather than a great garden

For those looking for a great French garden you'll be disappointed.  This Chateau focuses on parkland and there's no sense of any flower garden. or vegetable garden that I could see.

The park was established in the nineteenth century by the Biencourt Family.  It features specimen trees

However we went at the beginning of Autumn and it looked like the changing leaves could make for a very attractive site.

Travel Guides to the Loire Valley and the Chateaux

Michelin is the standard and the Dorling Kindersley is the one I prefer
Loire Valley (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
DK Travel
$23.00  $18.05
Michelin Green Guide: Chateaux of the...
Michelin Travel Publications
Only $21.95

Don't miss the town of Azay-le-Rideau

When trying to get round as many chateaux as possible, it's easy to miss the environment round about.  Fortunately we needed to park on the other side of Azay-le-Rideau and walk across.  We found this small town to be delightful and quiet.  It's a great place to stock up on all those odds and ends you need when travelling round.  We bought baguettes for lunch, stamps for postcards and batteries for a camera without difficulty.

I'm guessing that it's maybe a bit quieter at the beginning of October than it might be in the middle of Summer

article on Wikipedia
Azay-le-Rideau is a commune of the Indre-et-Loire department in central France.

A cobbled street in Azay-le-Rideau

A cobbled street in Azay-le-Rideau
A cobbled street in Azay-le-Rideau
Updated: 06/02/2011, makingamark
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Have you visited the Château of Azay-le-Rideau? Would you like to visit?

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Mira on 09/05/2015

Beautiful article and pictures :)

traveller27 on 09/11/2011

I was in France a couple of years ago but didn't make it to that area. It looks beautiful.

AJ on 06/02/2011

I would love to visit the Château of Azay-le-Rideau! I was always fascinated by French history when at school and disappointed that we never covered it, apart from the French Revolution.

fanfreluche on 06/02/2011

I never visited Azay-le-Rideau. I may suggest this next time family or friend come visit me from Canada..instead of going again to Chenonceau or Cheverny.

Guest on 05/28/2011

It's absolutely gorgeous! It looks like it might sink into the river at any moment, or maybe float away. :-)

Michey on 05/26/2011

Beautiful place to visit, great info and presentation

bev-owens on 05/26/2011

Well, here is another place to add to my bucket list...simply gorgeous.

makingamark on 05/26/2011

Thanks so much for the comments. France can really wow you with its heritage

nightbear on 05/26/2011

Oh how beautiful. Such majesty. Really beautiful place.

ronpass on 05/25/2011

Katherine, it makes me want to take off now from Downunder - the images are great and I share Anne's appreciation of the cobbled stone streets. I have longed to make the trip to Paris and I will one day soon. The Château of Azay-le-Rideau looks truly mystical.

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