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It's Christmas in the castles.

La Nouvelle République , 02.12.2023

In Amboise and Chenonceaux, the buildings adorn themselves with their finest attire for a month of decorations and entertainment. A quick overview.

It’s time for santons, hot chocolates (and wines) and Christmas carols… The holiday season officially starts this weekend in the châteaux of Amboise and Chenonceau. Here is what awaits visitors until January 7 (more photos can be found on

Royal castle. The castle sees life in a small way, but does things in a big way with the “Christmas Minimondes” scenography. The visitor will thus discover an exhibition of models and accessories from the filming of the animated film Léo, on screens on January 31, 2024, which retraces the life of Leonardo da Vinci in Amboise. Also on the program: miniature dollhouses and dioramas of small lead characters. Without forgetting six mini-worlds representing rooms of the castle in miniature version. All accompanied by the traditional candlelit night stroll, a workshop for creating a “miniworld” and shows: “The Melody of Gaspard” and “Story Hour”. Phone. +33

Clos Lucé. From the large tree to the chapel, including the decorated rooms, a copper aura covers the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci. On the menu for this month of activities: carriage rides in the park, various workshops (scent of Christmas, painting and drawings, Renaissance gastronomy), guided tours by Mathurine and theatrical performances by Pierrette Dupyet. This actress, a figure at the Avignon off-festival, will play Leonardo da Vinci during discussions with visitors, during which the Italian genius will recount, among other things, his journey from Florence. Phone. +33

Chenonceau Castle. “Palazzo on the water” atmosphere at the “ladies’ castle”. Throughout the floral arrangements that adorn its rooms and galleries, Chenonceau pays homage to the decorations of the great Parisian palaces (George V, Crillon, etc.), but does not forget its Italian heritage. And as Catherine de Medici loved marzipan and sweets, this year the castle enlisted the services of Nicolas Viollet, creator of the Conservatory of Confectionery in Amboise. Giant lollipops, candy boxes, Christmas canes, pyramids of calissons… Red, white or caramel sugar is in the spotlight in kitchens. But foodies beware: no touching. Phone.

Gaillard Castle. The “Christmas of the Orange Trees” is back in the home of Dom Pacellos. On the program for the “most Italian of the Loire castles”: a five-meter tree in the large living room, decorated rooms, a snow globe village, ceramic painting workshops, Christmas carols… The teddy bears’ snack also awaits visitors in the kitchen. Outside, the “Great Santa Claus Hunt” will be held in the park. And, inside, in front of the fireplace, it will be time, every day at 4 p.m., for the “Tale of the Golden Apple” read to the little ones. Phone. +33

More seasons

Between “magic” and “fairy”, Christmas has also become an essential commercial event for local castles. This is evidenced by the 2022 figures for the “Christmas in the land of castles” operation, in which the Royal Castle and Chenonceau are once again participating this year. In one month, the first had recorded 17,000 entries (+8% compared to 2021). For the second, we counted 48,000 entries (11% more than the previous year). If Clos Lucé and Château Gaillard are not integrated into this departmental system, they console themselves with “Christmas in Val de Loire”, an operation carried out, this time, by the Region. In both cases, the objective is to play the heritage card as much as possible to extend the tourist season. Gone is the end of the year gap: with their decorations, their songs and their Christmas stories by the fire, the castles of the Loire Valley attract tourists in winter and summer alike. There are no more seasons, and, for once, that’s good!

Julien Proult