The Loire Valley has a beautiful chateau in almost every village. There are hundreds to chose from and about two dozen famous homes to tour.

We stayed in a village outside the Chambord Forest, so this was our home chateau.

Not too shabby, huh?? The chateau is free to view from the outside, so we never paid to go into it. (I am incredibly cheap, I think I’ve covered that before. Also having been to Versailles, the Vatican and several other beautiful old homes, we are just tired of it)

Often times we will make up stories about where we are and pretend we are doing fabulous things. For this chateau, we pretended we lived here and were strolling and relaxing in the gardens after tea. ❤️. When we visited each new chateau, we were visiting old friends to gossip, play cards and of course eat cake!! What a life these aristocratic people lived!!

Over the course of our time in the Loire Valley, we visited Chambord at least four times to enjoy the forest and grounds.

Walking the gardens

Paid parking is available at the base of the chateau. You grab your parking ticket, enter the gate and then pay upon leaving at the kiosk. Don’t expect to pay from your vehicle, that is not the norm in France. You must pay before you get back into your car and insert your pre paid ticket into the gate to exit with your vehicle.

There is free parking all around the forest and plenty of trails to get you to the chateau.

The gardens are free, as is the village church. You can enjoy a shady bench and the beautiful view at no expense.

Bike riding in the forest

Our family favorite thing to do in Europe is to rent bikes and ride the established trails. Bike rental is available in the village of Muides. You can use Google Maps to find your way to the chateau forest. There are also bike path signs that you can follow, but be aware that there are several paths to take, so ask which number you need to follow to the chateau. We got pleasantly lost on our way!!

The forest is absolutely beautiful. Most of the trails are flat and the views are so varied and gorgeous. We spent about three hours riding around the river and forest. We heard our first cuckoo birds, listened to a pond full of croaking frogs and saw a wild boar!

What a fun way to spend an afternoon!!