Visit a Christmas château in France this year and what might you see? A magnificent stately palace lit up; trees decorated inside and out; costumed creatures taking you on a historic journey – let the imagination take over!

I become a child again at Christmas, believing everything I am told (well for a little while), hoping everything will be wonderful. It doesn’t last the January chill but hey ho, I enjoy it while I can.

So Christmas at the château. Which château? Well this year there are several which have dusted themselves down, brought the decorations out and occasionally gone right over the top.

Most have their Christmas special displays and events between Dec 3, 2022 and Jan 2, 2023 but many are open before and after these dates with Christmas decorations.

chenonceau long view at night lit up for Christmas with lights in front and fir trees
Chenonceau at Christmas © Dominique Coineau

Christmas Châteaux in the Loire Valley

No surprises that it’s the Loire Valley that comes out tops. This lovely stretch of river is the place where the Kings and Queens of France built their beautiful grand castles strung along the river like a necklace of pearls.

You might wonder what a Renaissance Christmas was like for children. All the châteaux theme their Christmas events, and one château takes the childhood theme as its inspiration.

Christmas at Château de Chambord

Chambord chateau lit up at night with fir trees in front and huge building glowing orange against stormy sky
Chambord lit up ©Leonard de Serres

Chambord is the big daddy of them all. The vast château was originally built as a hunting lodge for King François I but never used as a royal residence.

This glorious residence with its 440 rooms, 85 staircases, countless corridors…and 365 chimneys to heat them all…is spectacularly lit up at Christmas. You approach via the 100 illuminated and decorated fir trees in the gardens which light up the château.

Chambord at Christmas showing group of Renaissance musicians dressed in part playing old instruments
Chambord at Christmas © Chambord

From Dec 17 to 30 you’ll be entertained with a series of themes, games to watch, and The (Almost) Real History of King François I. It’s played out through a series of animated scenes like this commedia dell’arte group of Renaissance musicians, all of course in period costume.

Château de Chambord
41250 Chambord
Tel: +33 (0)2 54 50 40 00
Department Loir-et-Cher
Region Centre Val-de-Loire
Christmas Opening: Dec 1, 2022-Jan 2, 2023. Dec 1-16: 9am-5pm. Dec 17-30 Dec: 9am-6pm (except Dec 24 & 31 9am-4pm). Closed Dec 25 & Jan 1, 2023
Admission: Adult €14.50; under 26 years free

Château de Blois

Blois chateau covered in light scenes with different colours as part of their nightly son et lumiere show
Son et lumiere at Blois © FLeguere

On to Blois where the château dominates the town. Blois was where the notorious assassination of the Duc de Guise in 1588 by the Queen Mother, Catherine de’ Medici took place. This year the feminine angle is slightly different with a major exhibition on the dresses of princesses and queens. Walk through this magnificent, slightly sinister château with costumed characters, lights and spectacles surrounding you.

Blois is known to have one of the best son et lumière shows in France during the summer, but at Christmas the mood turns and the main courtyard fills with Les Anouki snow creatures cavorting over the imposing façades.  

The whole town of Blois is great at Christmas, with a skating rink, sledge run, Christmas market, cinema, magic and music, not to mention events, decorations and Christmas lights. The town puts on around 100 events.

Château de Blois
6 place du Chateau
41000 Blois
Tel: +33 (0)2 54 90 33 32
Department Loire-et-Cher
Region Centre Val-de-Loire
Christmas Opening: Nov 26-Dec 31 Daily except Dec 25 & Jan 1. 10am-5pm, 10am-6pm during school holidays
Admission: Adult €13; child 6-17 years €6.50

Château de Cheverny

Christmas at cheverny chateau showing table in stately room covered in Christmas type food and drink
Christmas at Cheverny

With lavish furniture and décor, Cheverny is a delight, particularly when it’s sumptuously decorated with Christmas decorations. And if you’re after gifts, visit the new Tintin shop (remember Hergé’s Château de Moulinsart or Marlinspike Hall in English). Don’t miss the special display of huge cups in front of the Orangerie, then go inside for a treat – Cheverny’s famous hot chocolate.

Château de Cheverny
Avenue du Château
41700 Cheverny
Tel: +33 (0)2 54 79 96 29
Department Loire-et-Cher
Region Centre Val-de-Loire
Christmas Opening: Dec 1, 2022-Jan 31, 2023. Daily 10am-5pm
Admission: Adult €13.50; child 7-14 years €9.50

Château d’Amboise

Amboise chateau with view from fir tree in left front towards pale stone large chateau with darkening sky

This year Amboise comes to life with Childrens’ Christmas Dreams – It is Midnight! The young princes Charles VIII and François 1 lived here as young boys. Different symbolic scenes in each room conjure up the childhood dreams they must have enjoyed.

Château d’amboise
Mnt de l’Emir Abd el Kader
37400 Amboise
Tel: +33 2 47 57 00 98
Department Indre-et-Loire
Region Centre Val-de-Loire
Christmas Opening: Dec 1-24. Daily 9am-12.30pm & 2-2.45pm. Dec 26-Jan 2, 2023 Daily 9am-4.45pm
Admission: Adult €13.50; 7-18 years €9.20; under 7 years free

Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Chaumont-sur-Loire chateau at Christmas with lavish green and gold decorations and plants in pots
Chaumont-sur-Loire © Leighton Gough

You might know Chaumont in the summer when it holds its famous 8-month long flower show. But it’s fabulous at Christmas as well when it dresses up its formal state rooms. During the Christmas holidays the staff have an afternoon craft workshop when you can make a mobile, or (if your French is good) listen to a Christmas tale.

Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire
41150 Chaumont-sur-Loire
Tel: +33 (0) 2 54 20 99 22
Department Haute-Marne
Region Grand Est
Christmas Opening: Dec 1-Jan 15, 2023. Daily 10am-5.30pm. Closed Dec 25, Jan 1, 2023
Admission: Adult €14; child 7-14 years €8

Château de Chenonceau

Chenonceau Christmas showing detail of long table with white table cloths, candles and white and green decorations Christmas
Chenonceau Christmas © Dominique Couineau

This is a fairy tale château at any time but at Christmas…It’s known as the place where Jean François Boucher, a master craftsman, creates extraordinary arrangements of flowers, vegetables, foliage and more throughout the château. This Christmas he’s gone to town with a forest table of moss, mushrooms and bouquets of foliage, and in the kitchen an ‘all chocolate’ table. Panettone gets a look in, as does a baroque table with huge chandeliers. And in the gallery that looks over the limpid waters, there’s a Venetian Grand Gallery.

Statue of deer outside Chenonceau lit up with lights in hallway behind
Chenonceau deer at Christmas © d. Tomasso

Château de Chenonceau
37150 Chenonceaux
Department Indre-et-Loire
Region Centre Val-de-Loire
Christmas Opening: Nov 14-Dec 16 daily 9.30am-4.30pm; Dec 17-31 9.30am-5.30pm
Admission: Adult €15; child 7-18 years €12;

Château de Villandry

Villandry chateau interior at Christmas in room with lit electric lamp, fireplace with presents coming out of it
Villandry Château at Christmas © ADT Touraine/J C Couthard

For a different Christmas at a château, visit VIllandry. Famous for its great vegetable gardens, they bring nature  indoors at Christmas to create reindeer, fawns, fowls, squirrels and more in an astonishing variety. Upstairs in the attic there’s an enchanted forest.

I love gardens and woods in winter free from foliage. From the windows in Villandry you can look down on the shapes created by the boxwood framing winter vegetables and the topiary trees free of leaves.

Château de Villandry
3 Rue Principale
37510 Villandry
Tel: +33 (0)2 47 50 02 09
Department Indre-et-Loire
Region Centre Val-de-Loire
Christmas Opening: Dec 3-Jan 2, 2023. Dec 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & Jan 2, 2023 9.30am-5.30pm. Dec 5-9, 12-16 9.30am-5pm. Open on Dec 25 and Jan 1
Admission: Adult €12; child 8-18 years €7

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau

Azay-le-Rideau at Christmas with richly decorated drawing room and chair beside fire with basket laden with wrapped presents beside
Azay-le-Rideau at Christmas © Centre des Monuments Nationaux

At Christmas Azay-le-Rideau turns to food, with events to make you wonder at the sumptuous feasts prepared in the castle. And they do some in a pretty inventive way. This most charming of châteaux has special creations made from precious fabrics and old objects, all around the gourmet theme like plates made of silk.

Château d’Azay-le-Rideau
19 rue Balzac
37190 Azay-le-Rideau
Tel: +33 (0)2 47 45 42 04
Department Indre-et-Loire
Region Centre Val-de-Loire
Open Oct 1-Mar 31, 2023. Daily 10am-5.15pm. Closed Dec 25 & Jan 1.
Admission: Adult €11.50; free for under 18 years

Château de Langeais

Chateau de Langeais. Huge stone chateau with pitched rooves from end of gravel path with gardens to right
Château de Langeais © Ввласенко/CC-BY-SA4.0

Langeais is less visited than other châteaux but there’s plenty to enjoy. Firstly an illustrious history – Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII were married here. And secondly a château bursting with furniture, rich textiles, wall coverings and art.  

This Christmas Langeais centres on lights, which in the past were reserved for the well-off – the poor lived in shade. All kinds of light arrangements using candles and lights flicker in the rooms and over strange undergrowth, banquet tables set with feasts for a king and queen, gowns waiting to be put on, glittering medieval shoes placed by the fireplace.  A huge Christmas tree takes pride of place in the banquet hall.

Château de Langeais
Place Pierre de Brosse
37130 Langeais
Tel: +33 (0)2 47 96 72 60
Department Indre-et-Loire
Region Centre Val-de-Loire
Christmas Opening: Nov 14-Jan 31. Daily 10am-5pm. Dec 25: 2-5pm.
Admission: Adult €11; 18-25 years €9; 10-17 years €5.50

Forteresse Royale de Chinon

Poster for Chinon at Christmas 2022 with gold chateau on black background
Chinon at Christmas 2022

Christmas myths and legends become real at Chinon with a series of interactive exhibits. You might discover more myths here; I didn’t know that moving stones at Chrismas reveals great treasures or that animals chat to each other during midnight mass.  Witness it all in the special artist’s project The Sunken Castle where the Fortress is submerged under the Vienne river when the clock strikes midnight.

Forteresse Royale de Chinone
2 rue du Château
37500 Chinon
Tel: +33 (0)2 47 93 13 45
Department Indre-et-Loire
Region Centre Val-de-Loire
Christmas Opening: Dec 3-Jan 2, 2023. Daily 9.30am-5pm. Closed at 4pm on Dec 24 & 31. Closed Dec 25 & Jan 1 Admission: Over 7 years €11; under 7 years €2.50

And Christmas at a Château just south of Paris – Vaux-le-Vicomte

Vaux-le-Vicomte at christmas with sumptuous interior and wooden floor of chateau with table laid with red and white cloth full of christmas food and toys to left
Vaux-le-Vicomte at Christmas

This magical château is near Paris and is well worth a day’s visit at any time of the year, but specially at Christmas when it is beautifully decorated both in the château and outside in the gardens. But it also has a look at Molière on the 400th anniversary of the great writer’s birth. It helps to know Molière’s life and work but not necessary. Automata of Fouquet who owned the château and Molière greet you in the Antechamber; more models extravagantly dressed echo the plays of the writer. The visit ends in the kitchens with the ‘Ambigu’, a dinner collation served in August 1661, around a huge decorated tree.

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
77950 Maincy
49150 Baugé
Tel: +33 (0)1 64 14 41 90
Department Seine-et-Marne
Region Île-de-France
Christmas Opening: Nov 18-Dec 17: Wed-Sun 10am-6pm. Dec 17-31: Daily 10am-6pm. Dec 24, 31 10am-4.30pm. Closed Dec 25
Admission: Adult €22; child 6-17 years €17.50

Information on France

Departments of France
Regions of France

Christmas in France

December Events in France
Best Christmas Markets in France
Best Christmas Markets in North France (plus where to stay in each town)
How the French celebrate Christmas
Festive Christmas Food in France

More about the Loire Valley

Drive the whole way along the Loire Valley from Le Puy-en-Velay in the Auvergne to St. Nazaire where the mighty river empties into the sea
The Great Rivers of France