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Reader’s report: Sabine and Zadig’s favorite dog-friendly French châteaux

Sabine not only reads Dog Jaunt, bless her, but she also writes a delightful dog travel blog of her own, called Zadigloves and featuring Zadig, her young Westie. We’ve corresponded for years (Sabine has kindly sent me a couple of the scoop law signs I love so much), and we share an interest in the dog-friendly châteaux of the Loire Valley. When Sabine told me that she and Zadig have been working their way through the list of châteaux that will allow pet dogs through their gates, I begged her to write a guest post for Dog Jaunt. Here is her reply, kindly translated by her from its original French. Please note that she has provided a link to the website for each château she mentions at the beginning of her descriptions.

“Asked by Marie-Alice, I’m glad to write this article to share with you my amazing time in the Loire Valley with my 3 year-old westie named Zadig. I hope this will help you for future holidays. Enjoy your time with your dog!

We spent two weeks in this part of France. One in October, 2014 near Amboise and one, more recently, in April, 2015 near Saumur. We decided to go there off the tourist season because the Loire Valley is very busy during summer. Both of the time, I prepared our visits by checking on internet if dogs were allowed and, few time, I emailed the castles to get clear answers.

We did not go to famous places as Blois, Chinon, or Cheverny because dogs are not welcomed here. For Chambord and Loches it’s only possible to be outside these castles with your dog on leash.

My favorite visit: the Castle of Langeais

Langeais is the place where Anne of Brittany (two times queen of France) married secretly her first husband Charles VIII. Nevertheless, this castle is not so famous so, I guess, you will be surprised, it’s my favorite visit.

Not only the castle and garden are beautiful, but we were allowed to follow the guided tour inside the castle with Zadig just on leash. Yes! In all the other castles we visited, my dog was tolerated but in a bag. As Zadig weighs 10 kilos, all these visits were really quick for me. But here, in Langeais, I enjoyed the 45-50 minute guided tour with Zadig at my feet ‘listening’ to the visit.

Zadig and I in front of the entrance of a castle

Zadig and I in front of the entrance of a castle

My favorite garden: Villandry

Without hesitation, it’s the gardens of Villandry. These gardens are breathtaking. You will spend hours walking through the different gardens (called the ornemental garden, the water garden, the sun garden, the kitchen garden or the herb garden). A team of ten gardeners maintains the gardens of Villandry daily throughout the year. It’s a must see for you and your dog.

Zadig in the garden of Villandry

Zadig in the garden of Villandry

My favorite castle: Chenonceau

This castle will make you feel like a princess in a fairytale. Nicknamed the ‘Château des Dames,’ it was successively embellished by Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici (the mistress and the wife of Henri II, King of France).

Zadig at Chenonceau

Zadig at Chenonceau

You have to see once in your life this bridge castle, jumping upon the Cher river, and the sunlight on these old stones. This is magic!

In the park, you will find lots of “canine blocks” with bags and trash can which is very good to help dog owners to keep the place clean.

The owner of this castle is Madame Meunier (from Meunier brand, which is an old chocolate brand in France), who is well-known for saving old dogs and feeding errant cats.

My favorite park: The Clos Lucé

The Clos Lucé is the place where Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519.

Zadig and I in the Clos Lucé park

Zadig and I in the Clos Lucé park

You will walk throught nature (we were there in October and the colors of autumn were amazing) and the inventions of Leonard de Vinci. We tried several, including the tank and the swing bridge.

I recommend you to go in the park before the castle because the inside is a bit less interesting.

The one I don’t recommand: The castle of Rivau

Even though the castle and the park were good and the team very nice, I will not come back. It’s because there are a peacock and ducks free to go outside. Zadig was between excited and afraid and the afternoon was very long.

We ate at the castle restaurant and the peacock used to go near the tables to grab some attention and food. Zadig was crazy and we had a very long lunch trying to calm him and eat simultaneously.”

Sabine reports that three other châteaux were “also dog friendly and great visits: Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau and Montsoreau.” Thank you so much, Sabine, for your report!! For more details, check out Sabine’s longer posts (also translated by her) on Zadigloves about visiting Chenonceau, Amboise, VillandryClos Lucé , Azay-le-Rideau, and Montsoreau with Zadig.