Rivau Castle (Chateau du Rivau)
With its medieval buildings and fairy-tale turrets encircled by landscaped gardens, lush woodlands, and bursts of lavender and roses—Chȃteau du Rivau is among the most underrated of the Loire Valley castles. Once visited by Joan of Arc, the 15th-century castle is also renowned for its Royal Stables.
Visitors can discover the Chȃteau du Rivau on a self-guided or audio-guided tour, and tickets include access to the castle and gardens. Explore the castle interiors, where the rooms have been restored with period furnishings and brought to life with sound and video installations; admire the collections of historic artifacts and contemporary art; then learn more about the castle’s history and connection with Joan of Arc at the Royal Stables.
The gardens are the highlight for many visitors, with around 320 acres (130 hectares) to explore, including 14 themed and flower gardens dotted with sculptures and art installations.
Things to Know Before You Go
The chȃteau is a great choice for families, with workshops and activities (including the chance to dress up in medieval costume) aimed at children aged 5 to 12.
Plan at least two hours to visit Chȃteau du Rivau and its gardens.
The chȃteau has a hotel and a restaurant that serves lunch, provides picnic baskets, and offers wine tasting.
Visitor facilities include a gift shop and a teahouse (high season only).
Audio guides are available in multiple languages, and information boards are in both English and French.
The castle gardens and stable are wheelchair-accessible, although rainy weather may restrict access. Advance booking is required to visit the castle itself with a wheelchair.
How to Get There
Chȃteau du Rivau is located in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley, 7 miles (11 kilometers) southeast of Chinon, about a 15-minute drive. There is no public transport to the castle, so it’s best to drive, rent a bike in Chinon, or visit as part of a tour.
When to Get There
Chȃteau du Rivau is open from April to November. High season (July and August) is the busiest and liveliest time to visit, with jousting and re-enactments by costumed actors and activities for kids. Each season brings different colors and varieties to the gardens: lavender in spring, perennials and ornamental grasses in August, and roses from late April all the way to October.
Gardens of the Chȃteau du Rivau
Designed by Patricia Laigneau from the Landscape School of Versailles, the 14 Rivau gardens have names lifted from fairy tales. Rapunzel’s Garden is filled with alliums and rapunzel flowers; the Secret Garden is filled with hundreds of varieties of English roses; the Gargantua kitchen garden produces seasonal vegetables used at the chȃteau restaurant; and the Lover’s Woods have hammocks where you can relax in the shade of ancient maple trees.