Lonely Planet Writer

Google to make virtual tours of the chateaux of the Loire Valley available

Virtual tours of some of the Loire Valley’s  most beautiful chateaux will soon be available to the public, as Google announces a partnership with 18 of the French region’s former royal homes.

Chateau de Saumu, Loire Valley.
Chateau de Saumu, Loire Valley. Image by Shutterstock

It will be possible to digitally explore the fabulous architecture, historic furnishings and artwork collections of Chenonceau, Chambord, Azay-le-Rideau and 15 other of the iconic chateaux that lie along the Loire river. Google’s Cultural Institute, based in Paris, released a statement this week saying, “not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to travel to the Loire Valley to see these wonders with their own eyes.”

But Street View image capture technology allows the next best thing and in some respects will allow an enhanced view of the sights, as there will be footage released of spaces that are normally off-limits to the public.

As part of the project, one of Google’s newest technologies, Art Camera, is to be used to home in on some of the chateaux’s artworks. The camera produces ultra-high resolution images that can reveal details invisible to the naked eye and will bring users up close and personal with the Oriental ceiling of the Villandry chateau, the Apocalypse Tapestry of Angers and the frescoes of Fontevraud Abbey.

Chateau Vilandry.
Chateau Villandry. Image by Celine / CC BY-SA 2.0

Several partner châteaux are also visible in 3D in Google Maps and Google Earth, meaning it will be possible to virtually wander through the gardens of the Château du Rivau, explore the intriguing underground passageways of the Château de Meung-sur-Loire or take to the towers of the Forteresse de Chinon reports the Malay Mail Online

Google has similar agreements with more than 1000 museums and cultural institutions in more than 60 countries around the world.

The Loire Valley’s position between northern and southern France and not too far from Paris meant the region was once one of strategic importance, which is why royalty were so keen to establish bases here, in the form of these extravagant castles.

View the footage here: