Of all the beautiful castles throughout Europe, France has the awesomest castles. They’re so romantic and dreamy. Here we listed our favourite top 10 best French castles to visit. If you’re planning a trip to France, you’ll definitely want to hit up one of these castles.
These are just some of the many castles of France. Each region of France has many castles and chateaux. Some of these are must-see destinations if you are planning an extended tour of the French countryside while visiting there. The many tales of storied battles and knights in shining armour hold a great deal of allure for both French citizens and the international traveller as well. The history of some of these structures is not only exciting to learn but fascinating as well. And there are some that local area residents will tell you are haunted.
10 Best French Castles to Visit, The Top 10 French Chateaux.
10. Château de Foix
This overly fortified castle was constructed early on during the Middle Ages on the Pyrenees northern slope which offered its residents the comfort of protection and security from attackers and invaders of the region. During ensuing centuries after it was built in 987, towers were continually added in order to create a strong keep with all of the towers and walls were adorned and topped off with merlons, the solid portion of a parapet that sees a lot of battle action.
The Castle of Foix is an important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. It has been listed since 1840 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
9. Chateau de Tarascon
On the banks of the Rhone River, Tarascon is quite a foreboding sight, with strong walls barely pierced to let the light in. The wall and towers are the same height adding further to the solid appearance.
Constructed in the early 1400’s, the medieval castle of Tarascon is amazingly compact architecturally. It sits completely surrounded by the waters of the Rhone River, having been built on one of its banks. The foreboding yet unarticulated walls of this structure are a stark, striking contrast considering it is surrounded by a lush landscape and water.
8. Château de Vincennes
Truly a magnificent sight, Château de Vincennes, a massive 14th and 17th century French royal castle in the town of Vincennes, to the east of Paris, now a suburb of the metropolis.
Once a residence for several French kings (Charles IV, Louis X, Philippe III, Philippe IV, and Philippe V), the Castle of Vincennes was constructed in the 1300’s from what was once the hunting lodge frequented by Louis VII and originally set up around 1150. The structure is amazingly spacious and consists of a strong keep adorned with corners made with rounded towers and then surrounded by the thickest of perimeters.
7. Mont Saint-Michel
Truly one of the most picturesque structures in all of France and quite possibly Europe in general, the fortress of Mont-Saint-Michel is like its own city. It was constructed during the 8th century. It is located on a rocky island off the north coast of France in Normandy. When the monastery was first constructed, it was connected to the mainland by a land bridge that was covered completely by water during high tide and visible again at low tide.
Because of the addition of farmlands to the area, the land bridge isn’t any longer there. However, the addition of the farmlands caused Mont St Michel to be nearer to the mainland. Currently, the buildup of silt around Mont St Michel has caused it to become an area of the mainland, however the French government is presently empowerment a hydraulic dam which will facilitate take away the silt associate degreed build it an island all over again.
Mont Saint-Michel is one of France’s most recognisable landmarks, and is a part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and more than 3 million people visit it each year.
6. Chateau d’Usse
The most beautiful castle in France is first glimpsed as you approach the Chateau d’Usse and an astonishing array of blue-slate roofs, dormer windows, delicate towers, and Gothic turrets greets you against the flank of the Forest of Chinon.
Chateau d’Usse, located at the edge of the Chinon forest overlooking the Indre, is commonly referred to as the Sleeping Beauty castle. Because of the dreamy Flamboyant Gothic/Renaissance look of the castle, Disney designed their castle after Chateau d’Usse. This gorgeous chateau can be found in modern day Rigny-Usse located in the Indre-et-Loire department.
5. Chateau d’Amboise
Situated in the Centre Val de Loire region in the town of Amboise, the medieval fortress of Amboise was replaced by a royal residence during the reigns of Kings Charles VIII and François I (late 15th – early 16th century). A number of men and women of letters from Europe as well as artists stayed at the Court of Amboise at the sovereigns’ invitation, for example, Leonardo da Vinci who was buried in the château’s chapel.
4. Chateau de Chantilly
The historic chateau, Château de Chantilly, located in the town of Chantilly, a part of the very large metropolitan area that is Paris. This beautiful chateau is made up of two attached sections: the Petit Château built around 1560 for Anne de Montmorency, and the Grand Château, which was destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s.
The Chateau was originally built in around 1528 for the Constable Anne de Montmorency. Several interesting pieces of history are associated with the château during the 17th century. The original mansion was destroyed in the French Revolution. It was later rebuilt. Every two years a spectacular fireworks competition, the Nuits de Feu, is held in the chateau gardens. This popular event brings many visitors in from the local area, from Paris, and from around the world.
3. Chateau de Chenonceau
One of the most famous castles in the Loire valley bears testimony to a sophisticated way of life through its original design, the wealth of its collections, its furnishings and its decoration, but also when considering its fate, as it was loved, run and protected by exceptional women who made a mark on history.
The Chateau was built on the River Cher in the 11th century. It was passed through many hands before it was given to the mistress of King Henry II, Diane de Poitiers. Diane de Poitier commissioned the gorgeous bridge that many people find as the most beautiful thing about the castle. This bridge is also the reason why the chateau exists today as it was set to be destroyed during the French Revolution, but the owner convinced the Revolutionary Guard that the bridge was essential to commerce (only bridge crossing the River Cher for miles).
2. Chateau de Chambord
At the heart of Europe’s largest enclosed wooded park, Chambord, the dream of a young king and a marvel of the Renaissance period, is the largest château in the Loire Valley. The one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world, was built for King Francis I to serve as a hunting lodge and so that he could be closer to his mistress.
The colossal size of Chambord, beyond all human scale, is astounding, like its alchemy of shapes and structures where nothing was left to chance. The Château de Chambord displays a unique silhouette, with its 156 metre façade, 440 rooms, 84 staircases, 365 fireplaces and 800 sculpted capitals. The environs of the castle consist of a 13,000 acre wooded park. This is a great place to stop for those visiting Loire valley castles as it is perhaps the best example of a Loire valley chateau.
The Palace of Versailles is some 20 kilometres southwest of the French capital Paris. When the project of building was first started in 1624, the town of Versailles was just a small village. Now this area is a wealthy suburb of Paris perhaps due to the Versailles.
The palace started out as a small hunting lodge built for Louis XIII, who later expanded it. His successor, Louis XIV, also had it renovated and expanded causing it to become among the largest palaces of the world. This helped him fulfill his desire of establishing a new center for the royal court. Because of the rich history behind the Versailles, it has come to be a major symbol of French nationality.