My paddle slipped through the glasslike water, creating ripples that broke up the otherwise flawless reflection of the shoreline.
On this last day of summer, the grand trees lining the banks of the Cher river were just starting to turn to autumn colours, the result a kaleidoscope of hues framed by wispy white clouds dancing across a bright blue sky.
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Our foursome navigated the waterway in a pair of sleek canoes, embracing the silence of the crisp morning air, the only sound around us being little splashes as our oars dipped into the river, propelling us forward.
A traditional boat trip usually means ending up at an alpine lake, navigating waves or rapids, or perhaps paddling to a secluded beach. But our destination on this day was decidedly different, and something that one can only find in a place as special as the Loire Valley in France.
We were heading straight towards a castle. And not just any castle—Château de Chenonceau, which is built right over the water.
Paddling to Chateau de Chenonceau
After setting off from the Canoe Company headquarters located near tiny Civray-de-Touraine, it was an easy paddle to Le Chateau de Chenonceau, which is one of the most visited castles of the Loire Valley.
En route, we marvelled at the tranquility of our surroundings, spotted tiny kingfisher birds zipping just above the water’s surface and soaked up the sunshine. It wasn’t long before the castle came into view, the scene even more majestic than one could hope for.
Château de Chenonceau architecture
From our low vantage point, we were able to appreciate the symmetry of the archways jutting out of the water, which are in fact the foundation of the Château de Chenonceau. The rest of the renaissance-inspired architecture rose up above, creating a picture-perfect scene much to the delight of visitors gathering on both sides of the riverbank, cameras at the ready.
But instead of snapping away at the castle, many of them turned their lenses on us: after all, it’s not often that one sees a group of people gliding right under a castle!
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It would have been easy to dock our canoes along the bank and hop out to explore the estate on foot, as most do when touring castles in the Loire Valley. But we had another, more French plan in mind. After angling the bobbing boats to face the château, we sat back in our seats and grinned as we popped open a bottle of sweet rose—it was almost noon, after all.
A bottle of white followed, accompanied by fresh baguettes and spreads made in the region, all enjoyed with a side of good conversation, an unbeatable view and a “pinch me, is this real life?!” moment.
We lazily allowed the slow tide to drift us back through the archways, and after downing both bottles of wine (being sure to raise a glass to the envious crowds waving at us, natch) it was eventually time to bid au revior to Château de Chenonceau and head back down the river.
Our time on the water may have only lasted a couple of hours, but the memories of that perfect, sun-soaked morning are sure to stay with us all forever.
Book a Loire Valley castles tour
Book a private guided tour to learn more about Chenonceau history, take a Loire Valley day trip from Paris, or even a hot air balloon ride:
Globe Guide explored Château de Chenonceau as part of the #FranceNature challenge, in collaboration with Atout France and Air France. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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I adore this region of France, it’s been our favourite for over two decades and we love visiting. But I have never thought to take a canoe trip and doing so to visit Chenonceau is just perfect. Magical to see it from the water, and to be able to approach that way. Love the wine and picnic too!
Thanks Kavita, it was AMAZING!!
Wow! It is indeed fancy and looks like you are on glass. What a fine idea to drink wine!
What a fun experiences. Gliding down the river would be so peaceful and to arrive at that magnificent chateau via the water would be like something out of a fairytale! And to have wine and a picnic too – it sounds like a perfect day.
It was amazing!
Wow! Stunning castle, stunning pictures! I really love your writing style, by the way! Well done on narrating what looks to be a beautiful experience. Quite romantic if you ask me!
Thanks James, it was an awesome day!
It must have been a fantastic experience canoeing to chateau-de-chenonceau. I can almost feel the thrill as I see your pictures of getting close to the Chaeau in your canoe. This is indeed a unique experience and an exciting canoe ride, so different from anything else.
Don’t paddle in the river. You are messing with those amazing reflections. I would love to drink wine while paddling on that river. It sounds like a great day.
How have I never heard of this castle before, it is stunning!!! Gliding through the water in canoes sounds like a perfect way to arrive, and get gorgeous photos of the reflections in the water
I know, I hadn’t heard of it either until someone took me there!
Canoeing to the chateau de chenonceau, Castle seems like a unique experience and a complete trip in itself. The Castle seems to have a great architecture and its reflections in the water are simply beyond words. They look amazing. Loved it.
Wow, what an amazing experience. I am yet to visit a French chateau and this one looks like a great one to visit in the near future. I love the reflections in your photographs, so beautiful. I love a good french picnic too. You can’t beat a fresh baguette and a bottle of rose!
wonderful place but I must also commend the photography. You have chosen perfect angles to make the most of the landscape. Just love the clear water and reflections of the sky on it. I think even if you invert the image, no one will be able to tell.
I want to take my 12 year old daughter but I’m scared to canoe alone. Are there places on the side where we can take pictures or ride a bike? Plus once I go under the arches, I’ll be ready to get off:)
Yes, you can totally see it from the forest on the side of the river banks 🙂
The canoe trip to Chenonceaux sounds delightful. However we would like to tour the castle and gardens. Us that possible?
Yes, you can definitely go inside! That is how most people visit. Enjoy your time there, it’s amazing!