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Châteaux of the Loire

French history is written in pomp and splendour across the World Heritage-listed landscape of the Loire Valley, and its castles trace tales of war, romance and intrigue.
The early 16th-century Château de Chenonceau
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Art & architecture

CHÂTEAU DE CHAMBORD

This cityscape of turrets is hands-down the grandest and most visited château in the Loire Valley. Begun in 1519 under François I, it snowballed to include 440 rooms, 365 freplaces and 84 staircases. Visit in the early morning to see it rise atmospherically from the mist (chambord.org; Chambord; 9am–6pm Apr–Oct, to 5pm Nov– Mar; £9, parking from £3).

CHÂTEAU DE CHENONCEAU

Spanning the languid Cher River via a series of supremely graceful arches, Chenonceau castle was largely the work of several remarkable women; it has an alternative name, Le Château des Dames. The interior includes a fabulous art collection with works by Tintoretto, Correggio, Rubens and others (chenonceau.com; Chenonceaux; open daily, hours vary by month; £10.50).

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - June 2016
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