10 Beautiful Castles in France

If we say that France is the land of castles, we find nothing. With its enormous defensive walls, surrounding tombs, drawbridges and thousands of tales, it’s simple to take us to a distant moment, an era of kings, courtiers, jesters and even princesses trapped in towers, dragons, fairies, and witchcrafts. There are thousands of castles in France. We’re telling you about some of them here.

Beautiful Castles in France

1.  Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
Credit flickr

The most popular tourist destination in Alsace, the Château de Haut-Koenigsberg, dominates the landscape high above the village of St-Hippolyte. Haut-Koenigsbourg (755 m) is the largest, strategically most significant, and most famous castle in Alsace.

Short History

The one-sided Staufer fortress was built in 1147 as a double Romanesque castle with two peace at the crossroads of two trade routes. Wine and grain were transported into the Rhine Valley, salt and silver to the Vosges Mountains. The result was a robber baron castle that the Habsburgs recaptured. The counts of Thierstein rebuilt the castle in 1479, after being destroyed by Upper Rhine towns (1462). In the 30-year war, it was destroyed again in 1633.

The ruin belonged to Schlettstadt in 1865, was given to Emperor Wilhelm II in 1899, whose great pride she was.  He initiated the reconstruction of the castle, which took place from 1901 to 1908 by Berlin architect Bodo Erhardt (1865-1945) according to historical plans of the 15th century. A one-way street with parking bays runs around the vast complex of the castle.

Elegant Architecture

The castle has a triple circular wall, many bigger and smaller watchtowers, ditches and a drawbridge. You arrive at the Ehrenpforte, the Porte des Lions, a gate tower with a portcullis gate, through the side gate of the castle.

You can see the different levels of defense work in the castle complex; the Western Bastion is the first defense work. You enter the full courtyard of the outer bailey through the gate, so are the farm buildings, the mill tower, and an inn arranged. A ramp leads to the highest point, the keep.

There is a residential wing at the inner court of honor and a neo-Gothic staircase tower at the keep. There’s a chapel in the castle. The Imperial and Festival Hall served the Emperor for receptions, the Hunting and Weapons Hall contains a collection of 15th century late medieval weapons and furniture.  One overlooks the Rhine plain from the battlements to the Black Forest and the Alps on one side and the Vosges vineyards and villages on the other.

2.  Château de Villandry

Château de Villandry
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Significant for the agreement of its gardens and its architecture, the domain is known above all for its three-level gardens, which combine harmony, diversity, and aesthetics.

Short History

John the Breton, Francisco’s finance minister, built Villandry. His offspring held the castle until 1754. It then became the property of Louis XV’s ambassador, the Marquis de Castellane.

Dr. Joachim Carvallo, born in Spain, the present owners’ grandfather, purchased the castle in 1906. To devote himself exclusively to Villandry, Dr. Carvallo left an incredible science career. He saved the castle from demolition and formed the present gardens in complete harmony with the Renaissance architecture.

Architecture (Six exceptional gardens)

Today, a visit to Villandry’s gardens leads tourists to discover six outstanding gardens.

From the garden with nine squares of the same size but distinct interior designs to the decorative garden trees and flowers, from the water garden to the natural garden and from the labyrinth to the sun garden, the magic expresses itself in each season. Visitors have an unforgettable view of the gardens.

Under the protection of lime and pergolas, everybody is encouraged to rest near the grassy water garden areas or the fresh Italian waterfalls. The kids will have their garden near the secret labyrinth as well.

Events and animations take place in the castle and its gardens from spring to autumn, guaranteeing a constant renewal for the visitor’s pleasure.

3.  Château de Chambord

Château de Chambord
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Chambord, famous in France and beyond, is located in the Loire Valley. Not only is the municipality of Chambord surrounded by a European forest park, but it also has this fantastic attraction. The castle is a historical monument and is considered to be the most massive such structure in the valley. 

Short History

The French king defeated the duke of Milan in a bloody battle in 1516. In Italy, the young king of France was so fascinated by Renaissance-related works of art that he decided to translate the Renaissance ideas into his French lands. Francis I met Leonardo da Vinci after the military victory in Italy. The king invited him to the architect. And the famous master agreed to become the king’s court. Leonardo lived in France until he died.

Throughout its history, the Loire’s castle lands have changed their masters many times until they are again under the control of France. Today, Chambord is included in the UNESCO list and is open to tourists from all over the world.

Graceful Castle Architecture

The elegant structure is designed as a castle fortress. It has a belt of fortifications and side towers with thick walls. The castle’s façade is 156 meters wide. The height of the walls is 56 meters. The castle’s ensemble includes 800 sculptural associations. In the castle building, there are 426 rooms and as many as 77 stairs. Gothic style is at the forefront of Chambord. The castle’s main plan is presented as a Gothic cross.

This architectural technique is characteristic of many Italian churches. The towers of the Chambord castle are oriented towards the cardinal points.

There is a slight asymmetry in the structure’s appearance. But all the proportions are meticulously observed around the central staircase. Five habitable levels were erected in the central section. Paintings and gilding are preserved on the third floor of the castle. The park surrounding the castle was created for hunting, not for leisurely walks.

And there are wild boars and deer today. Mediterranean sheep were brought into it during the creation of the park. You can find several ponds in the park. The Hunting Museum occupies the second floor of the main building. In the village there are hotels, restaurants nearby, there is minimal infrastructure. A fantastic castle is often hosting exhibitions.

4.  Chateau de Vincennes

Chateau de Vincennes
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Vincennes Castle is an imperious mansion of French origin dating from the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is located in the city of Vincennes beautiful place where you can recreate with such beauty, less than 10 km east of Paris.

Short History

It is a beautiful imperial mansion that was built between the 14th and 17th centuries. It is located on the edges of Paris, most definitely in the city of Vincennes, east of the nation’s capital. The Vincennes Castle is the largest castle made in the middle of the European Middle Ages and the particular case that maintains its unique shape.

Felipe Augusto and Luis IX manufactured a stronger house in the thirteenth century: evidently, Louis IX would have stayed for Vincennes’ Eighth Crusade, from which he stayed away forever. The fief has expanded widely, supplanting the leading development towards the end of the fourteenth century. Felipe VI, a work that began around 1337, included a 52-meter-high tower. The magnificent rectangular dividing circuit was completed by the Valois dynasty nearly two centuries later (about 1410).

Architecture

Only a few reminders remember the past mansion dating back to the fourteenth century. The palace has a square shape of 330 by 175 meters, with initially six towers and three aisles, each 42 meters high. 

The tower, 52 meters high, implies the fortification’s western side, isolated from what is left of the castle next to the canal. The mansion’s southern end contains Le Vau’s developments. In the seventeenth century, engineer Louis Le Vau worked in several separate fields for Louis XIV, reflecting one another by his side through a flowerbed.

The Bois de Vincennes is the most significant green space with around one thousand hectares in the one hundred stops and gardens of Paris. Located east of the city, in the XIIE arrondissement, it was initially the rulers’ private chase zone. Now it contains some developments of different types that allow you to spend a lovely excursion.

5.  Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel
Credit Unsplash

An ancient islet stands out off the coast of Normandy, France, reflecting mystery and magic throughout its history. This is Mont Saint Michel, which is the third most visited place in France today.

For 1300 years, this inhospitable place represented by its construction an undoubted technical and artistic feat.

Over the centuries, the abbey has been transformed due to fires, landslides, reconstructions, functional changes, or refunds.

Concise History

Mont Saint-Michel’s lengthy history would have started in 708, when Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, raised a shrine on Mount Tombe in honor of the Archangel. The mountain rapidly became an important pilgrimage site. The Benedictines settled in the abbey in the 10th century, while a city evolved below. It expanded to the rock’s foot in the fourteenth century.

Mont Saint-Michel, an impregnable fortress during the Hundred Years War, is also an illustration of military architecture. Its walls and fortifications resisted all English assaults and made the mountain a symbolic place of national identity. The abbey was used as a prison after the dissolution of the religious society during the Revolution and until 1863. Converted into a historic monument in 1874, it was the topic of significant restorations.

Fantastic Architecture

The Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel is a unique monument, taking into account the pyramidal shape of the mountain, the builders of the Middle Ages arranged the buildings around the granite boulder.

Located at the top, the abbey church rests on crypts that create a platform capable of supporting the weight of an 80-meter-long church. The building of the Wonder, frequently evoked as a florón of the abbey’s architecture, is a testimony to the architectural mastery of the 13th-century builders who managed to support two bodies of three-story buildings on the slope of the rock.

The great principles of monastic life also influenced building organization and architecture. Saint Benedict’s Rule, to which the monks of the Mount were subjected, foresaw that they could devote their day to prayer and work. During the construction of the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, two great imperatives prevailed; the demands of monastic life and topographical difficulties.

6. Vaux-le-Vicomte

Vaux-le-Vicomte
Credit pixabay

The Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte is situated nearly 50 km southeast of Paris in Mainsey. It’s one of France’s most famous castles. For the renowned Versailles Palace, it served as a model. Many other castles were constructed according to its model in the XVII century.

Short History

The Vaux-le-Viscount castle was built in the shortest time possible: from 1658 to 1661 and with its splendor it overshadowed all the castles and palaces that were then available, including the royal ones. France’s best forces were involved in designing and building the palace complex: architect Louis Levo, landscape architect Ande Lenotre and painter Charles Lenotre, all of whom later used the skills acquired in Versailles’ construction and decoration.

However, in his beautiful country palace, Nicolas Fouquet, the Marquis de Belle-Ile, Viscount de Melon, and Vaud, did not enjoy life for long. The influential minister fell victim to excessive greed and luxury enthusiasm: on August 17, 1661, in the presence of 600 guests, he solemnly celebrated the housewarming party. And he was arrested by the captain of the royal musketeers d’Artagnan on September 5 in Nantes and spent the rest of his life in jail.

Architecture

The château is beautifully proportioned, and the decor is rich in taste, the gardens and the grounds make Vaux a masterpiece. The castle’s magnificent interior reflects Fouquet’s character and his luxury love. The castle walls are painted with elegant tapestries made by hand.

 Fouquet was also known as a patron of the arts and supported talented artists and writers like Moliere or La Fontaine. The view from the dome is spectacular! A beautiful symmetrical garden with intricate geometric patterns can be seen. This garden was built in the 17th century by Le Notre, the founder of French garden style.

7. Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau
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After the castle of Versailles, the second most visited castle in France, the Château de Chenonceau is a masterpiece of the Renaissance that can not be missed when visiting the Loire Valley. The “Pont Castle” (Castle Bridge), built directly above the Cher River, is unique not only because of its unique architecture but also because of its rich history.

Short history

This castle has a vibrant history, but we will write a concise historical lesson. It was constructed as a noble estate in the 16th century around 1514-1522. The original estate was burnt down during a fire, 600 meters from the current building. The castle was called “Castle de Dam;” as you know, Henry II offered the castle to his mistress, Diana de Poitiers, who was one of the most important influences on his design. The castle also served as a military hospital during the First World War and helped hundreds and thousands of soldiers.

Architecture

The castle’s unique architectural style includes the architects Philibert de L’Orm and Jean Bullen’s Gothic and Renaissance forms. The fort gradually opens up walking to the entrance, giving the impression that the child is slowly unwrapping the gift.

Surrounding the castle are lush green trees and flower gardens, which were first planted by Diana de Poitiers. If you visit there, do not forget to visit them from both sides and enjoy the view of the castle.

8. Palais des Papes

Palais des Papes
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The Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) is considered to be the most massive Gothic Palace in the West and one of the most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe, ranked among the top ten (10) most visited monuments in France. Located in the heart of the City of Avignon, very close to Provence’s famous Avignon Bridge, the building is renowned not only for its architectural beauty but also for what it had historically represented in the 14th century and even today.

History

The City of Avignon, and especially the Palais des Papes, is undoubtedly a crucial period in the Church’s history, the time when “Rome went to France.” Europe was undergoing a paradigm shift: while the Pope’s temporal power was declining, monarchical power was rising, consolidating, and challenging the same. 

It was precisely in this scenario that Pope Boniface VIII and the French monarch Philip IV (“the Beautiful”) fought a severe power struggle. The winner of the small diplomatic war was Philip IV, who succeeded as a pontiff in electing another Frenchman, Clement V, and forced him to settle in France. And this is how Avignon’s small village became the seat of the Curia and the Pope of Rome’s residence, which remained there for almost 70 years! This period was called the “Papacy of Avignon.”

Architecture

Of course, it wouldn’t be a palace without lush decorations, with frescoed walls and ceilings by Matteo Giovanetti and Simone Martini. The central courtyard’s irregular quadrilateral was surrounded by two-story galleries high and dwarfed by the various towers built around the periphery of the building.

The northern wing contained the first chapel of the Palace: 40 meters long and only 8 meters wide. You can see several rooms, small chapels, the room where the popes prepared to receive their guests and for ceremonies, as well as the Great Chapel during the visit to the palace.

9. Cite de Carcassonne

Cite de Carcassonne
Credit pixabay

Carcassonne is a big, typical city, like many in the French countryside, with streets, traffic lights, cars, buildings, modern shops, and everything, other than having an incredible, walled part, the Cité de Carcassonne, or Carcassonne Citadel. This is precisely where the city began with its charming alleys and unique preservation.

Short history

There are about 2500 years of history. Several distinct peoples dominated the city, helping to strengthen it more and more. The government considered breaking down the walls in 1849 but strongly opposed the population. Thankfully, right?. They gave up the idea and decided instead to restore the city for the good of all and the nation’s general happiness. As a robust French tourist attraction, this made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Architecture

The quadrangular Carcassonne Castle is surrounded by a double that can be traced back to the first quarter of the thirteenth century and was built from an old wall. There are nine towers on the walls of the castle, two of them being the highest in the city, the chapel tower and the Pinte tower, the Visigoth period.

10. Château d’Angers

Château d'Angers
Credit flickr

Angers is the capital of the department of Maine-et-Loire and is about 300 km southwest of Paris. The town is close to the Loire Castles region, and its main tourist attraction is the stronghold of the 13th century whose slate walls impress: the Chateau D’Angers. Chateau de Angers is more of a fortress than a castle that stands out for its substantial circular towers, built of black and white stones that give them a specific layered cake appearance.

History

In the 9th century, the Bishop of Angers granted permission to the counts of Anjou to build a castle in Waves of anger. Construction of the first fort started under Count Fulk III (970–1040) celebrated the building of dozens of forts to secure Anjou from the Normans.

A military academy to train young officers in war strategies was set up in the castle. The Angers Military Academy trained Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, best known for participating in the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo. The academy shifted to Saumur, and the castle was used for the remainder of the 19th century as a prison, powder magazine, and barracks.

Architecture

The walls are about 800 meters long and surrounded by 17 high defense towers. The towers are nearly 20 meters in diameter. During World War II and in a fire in 2009, large parts of the fort burned. Fortunately, the tapestries survived without damage. Visitors can enjoy the impressive size of the 100-meter long Apocalypse Tapestry. People Spend hours inspecting the finer details of the fabric running through the walls.

Conclusion

These French castles are the most attractive for tourists. Visiting any of these castles in France will make your trip even more unforgettable. Tell us in the comments here: Have you ever visited any of these castles in France? How has your experience been?

About Me

You deserve to relax and enjoy your vacation. Being stressed in the process is not part of it. This is why I decided to create this blog to guide the new savvy travelers. It will guide you on where to go and provide more information about the holiday destination of your choice.

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