When exploring the Loire valley there are a huge number of Chateaus to choose from that are well worth a visit but if you are travelling as a family then visiting a Chateau will not be high up on the list of things that your kids want to do. On my brief tour of the Loire Valley a few weeks ago I was taken to the Chateau du Rivau and as soon as we pulled up in the car park I knew that this was somewhere that my girls would love.
Not only does the Chateau du Rivau look like an amazing fairytale garden but the owner, Patricia Laigneau, has spent a long time transforming the gardens into a wonderful fairytale. The Chateau du Rivau combines sculptures and plants to create a magical walk through the gardens with special signs which have information for both adults and children (they even have pet peacocks!).
On arrival at the Chateau du Rivau we were greeted by the first of many sculptures that marked the path and delighted the senses with colours and smells.
Every single aspect of the chateau and its grounds have been created with families in mind. As you enter through the gift shop children can hire a fancy dress costume to wear which can transform them into a prince, princess, knight and more. Each family will also be given a 16 page educational booklet that the children can fill in as they wander the gardens and castle.
The courtyard is home to many sculptures which help to capture the children’s imaginations as well as the kitchen gardens and a restaurant which uses all local produce. The stables of the courtyard have amazing videos projected on the walls which tell the tale of Francis the first and the horses who once lived there.
A walk through the gardens takes you to the land of fairytales and imagination as you find creatures and objects that may seem out of place. From the giants welly boots to the love birds nestled in their cage there is something magical around every corner. The elves and fairies on the signs will guide you through the garden as you journey through the plants and trees to see if you can find all of the special sculptures. You can journey through the Cheshire Cat maze to find the white rabbit or take a long look at the Pots family to see what they are getting up to. You will also find a playground nestled in the trees and nearby you can see lots of other magical creations.
It’s not all about the children, throughout the garden different plants and flowers will be in season no matter when you visit, meaning that there is always something new to see. As well as the amazing gardens the Chateau itself is a delight for families too. Rather than take itself too seriously the chateau combines art with fun and when we visited it had a fabulous exhibit called Ghosts and Apparitions. The Chateau was filled with artwork that was commissioned from various artists to spook and delight and took on many different forms. In fact, everywhere I looked I was amused and enamoured with the decor and I knew that both of my girls would delight in finding the various silly pieces that snuck into the different rooms.
With lots of activities in place over the school holidays plus all the things to explore by yourself the Chateau du Rivau is a must visit attraction for families and one that you will be talking about for a long time. To find out more visit http://www.loire-castle-rivau.com/