Tours is the city to stay in to discover the Loire Valley Chateaux. It isn’t the most scenic city, but it’s central. There is an airport outside Tours called Tours VAl de Loire Airport offering flights to and from London, and the high-speed TGV train gets you from Paris to Tours in about an hour.
You can get lots of information about the Loire valley and the chateaux in Tours. Tours also has many museums, outlining the art and craft of the Loire Valley. The best deal is to get a museum pass from the tourist office in Tours (carte multi-visites), for a bargain museum experience.
Blois is also a city that you may consider staying in and using for a base, and it has its own Renaissance chateau. There is a train station at Blois, and you can rent a car there.
Montrichard is an historic market town on the River Cher between Blois and Tours. Nearby cottages offer a chance to stay and live like a native.
Chateau de Chenonceau has been described as the most beautiful of Chateaux. The Rena
issance chateau stretches across the River Cher on piers. Chenonceau is one of the few Chateaus that you can view without a guide.
Chateau de Chambord was Commissioned as a hunting lodge by Francois I in 1519. It’s the largest of the Loire châteaux with 440 rooms, and if it’s second to Chenonceau in beauty, it’s a darn close second.
Chateau de Chaumont is set on a cliff above the Loire, standing on the foundations of two previous fortresses dating from the 10th and 12th centuries. What to see: the Italian tiled floor in the Salle du Conseil, furniture from the 16th and 18th centuries and the impressive stables built by the Prince de Broglie.
Chateau de Amboise was home to French King Louis XI and his wife Charlotte of Savoy. What to see: the Gothic Chapel of St Hubert; are the remains of Leonardo de Vinci really buried in the north transept? Plus, the lavish Kings quarters, the Great Hall and the Tour des Minimes, a tower providing access to the chateau to carriages.
Chateau de Villandry features one of the best examples of Renaissance formal gardens in the Loire Valley.
Chateau de Beauregard features an interesting 16th century kitchen, but most come here to see the Picture Gallery containing 363 portraits of Royal family members and aristocracy.
Chateau de Cheverny is an opulent Renaissance styled chateau from the period of Louis XIII. The main draws here are the furnishings and the small hunting museum.