Tuesday and Friday Castles
Chambord is the biggest Loire castle, yet was only built as a hunting lodge for King Francois I. It's been suggested, but not proven, Da Vinci had a hand in its design, but it's attributed to Phillipe Delorme.
Unique architectural features such as the minaret-like spires and grand double helix staircase add to its distinction. Onsite is the Museum of Nature and Hunting, and an especially rare collection of tapestries.
Designed by the same architect who created Blois, Cheverny has stayed in the Count of Cheverny's family almost continually since it was built in the 16th century. Intact interiors and priceless antiques are a must-see, but the famed hunting dog kennels on the grounds are the biggest draw, open for public viewing right next to the extensive kitchen gardens.
Chateau de Beauregard was François I's splendid hunting lodge the hunt. It's particularly known for its portrait gallery featuring the notables of French history. The ceiling tiles were hand made in Delft. There is a very special outdoor garden created by Gilles Clément, consisting of groves and plantings of single colors. The overall effect is meant to be that of a portrait, echoing the gallery in the chateau.