Last Updated on September 12, 2023 by April | Dreaming in French
Are you on the search for the best castles of France? I’ve got you covered! Keep reading…
France has some of the most beautiful castles in the world. From the incredible Chateau de Versailles to lesser-known gems like Chenonceau and Valencay, there are so many stunning castles that it can be hard to choose which one you want to visit first! Here’s my list of the most beautiful castles in France.
To explore the past and to get an insight into how life was centuries ago, I recommend visiting some of the most beautiful castles in France. In this article, I will take you on a journey through time to some of the most stunning castles in France, where the beauty of both old and new come together.
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If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of the best castles of France:
How to Visit the French Châteaux
With a few exceptions (Versailles, Fontainebleau, etc.), traveling by vehicle is the most effective way to see these stunning castles in France. You may visit all of these magnificent French châteaux on a road trip in the country, which is normally not possible with public transit.
I suggest using Discover Cars to reserve a vehicle if you don’t already have one in France. This website is fantastic since it compares pricing for you from all of the main rental companies, like Hertz, Avis, and more.
Castles of France Map
The 13 Best Castles of France
40,000 castles can be found all throughout the beautiful countryside of France. There is a chance that seeing them all might take a lifetime, but don’t be concerned. I can assist you in reducing the list to a manageable number. The following list of 13 magnificent French castles will help you plan your next trip to this lovely country.
1. Château de Chenonceau
Château de Chenonceau is an iconic French chateau situated on the banks of the River Cher between Tours and Amboise. Built in the 16th century, the castle is an exquisite example of French Renaissance architecture. It has been home to some of the most powerful and influential figures in French history, including Katherine Briçonnet, Diane de Poitiers, Catherine de’ Medici, Louise de Lorraine and Madame Dupin.
The main highlight of the castle is its unique location, where the River Cher flows through the center of the castle. The bridge that connects the two sides of the castle was built by Diane de Poitiers in the 16th century, and is one of the most photographed sights in France. The castle also has a number of other attractions, such as a winery, a museum, and a gallery of paintings.
2. Château de Vincennes
Château de Vincennes is an impressive castle situated on the eastern outskirts of Paris, France and makes for a great day trip from the city. It has a long and varied history that dates back to the 13th century and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally built as a fortress, it was later used as a royal residence and a state prison. The castle was built on a hill surrounded by a lake and dense forest, making it an ideal defensive position.
It was also equipped with a drawbridge and four towers, along with a large moat which was filled with water from the Seine River. Inside, the castle consists of several grand chambers, including the Grand Hall, the Royal Chapel and the Royal Library. Today, the castle is open to the public and visitors can explore its grounds and marvel at the impressive architecture and history of Vincennes.
3. Château de Pierrefonds
Located in the commune of Pierrefonds in the Oise region of France, Château de Pierrefonds is an impressive medieval fortress. Built in the 14th century by the Count of Valois, the castle was designed to protect the town from English attacks. The castle was then taken over by King Louis XIV and was later renovated by Viollet-le-Duc. This impressive castle stands on a hilltop and is surrounded by walls and fortifications.
The castle consists of two parts: the Lower Castle and the Upper Castle. The Lower Castle includes the entrance gate and the two towers, while the Upper Castle is made up of a donjon and a large tower. Inside the castle, visitors can admire the chapel, courtyards, and numerous rooms. The castle is also surrounded by a park and a small lake.
4. Château de Versailles
Château de Versailles, located about 10 miles west of Paris, is an iconic symbol of French history and culture. Built in the 17th century by Louis XIV, the palace served as the seat of the French monarchy for almost a century. It is a testament to the power and wealth of the French monarchy during its heyday.
The palace complex is made up of over 2,000 rooms, gardens, and fountains, and is considered to be one of the most impressive examples of French Baroque architecture. The grounds of the palace are immaculately groomed and include sprawling gardens, lawns, and trees. The Grand Trianon, a smaller palace on the grounds, was built by Louis XIV as a retreat from the main palace. The Hall of Mirrors, a grand hall lined with mirrors, is one of the most iconic and recognizable parts of the palace.
The palace also contains many works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and tapestries, by some of the most famous artists of the era. The renowned Hall of Battles, a large room decorated with paintings depicting important French victories, is one of the most popular attractions in the palace.
5. Château de Chantilly
Château de Chantilly, is a historic monument located in the town of Chantilly, France. It was built in the 15th century by the Princes of Condé, and is now an iconic symbol of the region. The castle is a stunning example of French Renaissance architecture that is still in use today. It is a popular destination for tourists, as it offers a unique look into French history.
The castle is surrounded by a beautiful park with gardens, fountains, and sculptures. Inside the castle, visitors can explore the many rooms, including the Great Hall, the State Rooms, and the Library of Condé. The castle also houses an impressive collection of art and furniture from the 15th to the 18th centuries. It is one of most beautiful castles in France and a definite must-see for anyone visiting the region.
6. Château de Fontainebleau
Château de Fontainebleau is a French royal château located in the commune of Fontainebleau, in the Seine-et-Marne département, about 55 kilometres (34 miles) south-southeast of the centre of Paris. It is one of the largest French royal châteaux and the largest one in the Île-de-France region. The castle has over 1500 rooms, spread over 130 hectares (320 acres) of land, and is one of the most important examples of French Renaissance architecture.
The castle has many beautiful gardens, including the Grand Parc, the Petit Parc, and the Jardin de Diane. It also has a number of galleries, including the Galerie des Cerfs, the Galerie des Batailles, and the Galerie des Glaces. The castle also has a number of chapels, including the Chapelle Saint-Louis and the Chapelle de la Trinité. The castle also houses a number of museums, including the Musée National du Château de Fontainebleau, which displays paintings and sculptures from the 16th and 17th centuries.
7. Château de Valençay
Château de Valençay is a beautiful 18th century French château located in the Loir-et-Cher department of the Centre-Val de Loire region. It was built in 1750 by the Prince of Talleyrand and has been the home of the Valençay family since then. It is a splendid example of French classical architecture, with a symmetrical façade, two grand courtyards, and a large garden.
The castle is set in a 6,000 acre park, which is home to many species of rare plants and wildlife. Inside, the castle contains a collection of art and furniture from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as a library and several salons. The castle is open to the public and offers guided tours, so that visitors can explore the beauty and history of the castle. A visit to the Castle of Valençay is an unforgettable experience for anyone interested in French architecture and culture.
8. Château de Chambord
Château de Chambord is an iconic landmark in France, located in the Loire Valley. Built in the early 16th century, this grand château was commissioned by King François I as a hunting lodge. The castle is one of the most recognizable in the world, thanks to its distinct French Renaissance style. The castle has a unique mix of classical Renaissance and French medieval architecture, and is considered a true masterpiece of French history.
The castle is composed of four distinct wings, all connected by a grand, central courtyard. The most impressive feature of the castle is the double-helix staircase, which was designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself. The staircase is made up of two separate staircases, which spiral around each other without ever meeting. This design was ahead of its time, and the castle remains the only one of its kind in the world.
10. Château d’Azay-le-Rideau
Château d’Azay-le-Rideau is a historical monument located in the picturesque town of Azay-le-Rideau in the Indre-et-Loire region of France. This stunning castle was built in the early 16th century and is considered one of the most elegant Renaissance chateaux in France. It has a unique and captivating design, with its stunning towers and turrets reflected in the waters of the Indre river.
The castle is a popular tourist destination as it houses a large collection of tapestries, furniture and other artworks from the region. Additionally, it is surrounded by an enchanting park, with a variety of trees and plants, making it a peaceful and relaxing place to visit. Visitors can also take the time to explore the nearby villages, where they can sample some of the local food and wine. The Castle of Azay-le-Rideau is a must-see destination for anyone interested in exploring the history and culture of this beautiful region.
11. Château d’Amboise
Château d’Amboise is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture and is situated in the small French town of Amboise. It is a unique architectural masterpiece that was built by Charles VIII and has been the home of many French kings and queens throughout the centuries. The castle is one of the most visited landmarks in the Loire Valley and one of the most important Renaissance buildings in France.
The castle is filled with interesting artifacts, artworks and tapestries that give a glimpse into the lives of the French royal family. There are also several rooms dedicated to the history of the castle, including a museum that allows visitors to explore the castle’s past. Tourists can also explore the castle’s many towers and passages and take in the stunning views of the surrounding area.
12. Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is an iconic 17th century French chateau located near Paris. It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and magnificent castles in Europe, and was created by renowned French landscape architect, Andre Le Notre. The castle was constructed over a period of seven years between 1658 and 1665 for Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finances for Louis XIV.
The castle is an example of French Baroque architecture, with its exuberant style, lavish gardens, and grand décor. The castle is surrounded by a moat, and the entrance is marked by two imposing pavilions. The interior of the castle is opulent, with its ornate décor, gold-framed paintings, and lush tapestries. The gardens feature several terraces, fountains, and statues, and are designed to create an optical illusion of depth.
13. Château de Villandry
Château de Villandry, located in the Loire Valley of France, is a stunning Renaissance castle that has been lovingly preserved by its owners since 1536. Built by Jean le Breton, one of King Francois I’s servants, the castle was originally a fortress and a hunting lodge, but in the 19th century it was converted into a magnificent French chateau.
The castle and its grounds are some of the most beautiful in the region, and the gardens are especially breathtaking. The gardens contain a series of ten garden “rooms”, each with its own theme and design, including a water garden, an ornamental garden, and an ornamental vegetable garden. Each room is separated from the others by walls, with intricately designed gates, which gives the gardens a maze-like feel. The gardens contain a variety of plants and flowers, many of which have been carefully chosen to reflect the time period in which the castle was built.
The castle itself is also a sight to behold. It features a variety of architectural styles, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Louis XIV, and is filled with impressive stone carvings and sculptures. Inside, visitors will find a variety of period furniture, tapestries, and paintings. There are also several chapels, one of which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Final Thoughts on Castles of France
From the fairytale Chambord to the serene Carcassonne, these castles in France are truly some of the most stunning examples of architecture around. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or simply want to explore centuries-old history, these captivating French castles will provide you with plenty of fascinating sights and activities. So take a journey through time and experience all that France has to offer!