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Beautiful Castles in France to Add to Your Bucket List

If you are heading to France, here are some of the best Castles in France you should visit during your trip.

There are so many great France Castles to choose from so I have collaborated with some of my fellow travel bloggers and they’ve revealed some of their favorite France Castles to visit. From the magical castles in the Loire Valley to the spectacular France Castles in Provence.  There are some real magical castles to choose from to enjoy your time in France.

Once you have visited the most instagrammable places in Paris then head to these beautiful French castles. The French castles are known for all things romantic and beautiful, top your travels up and visit some of the best castles in France and learn about the history and tales of the castle.  

France is already the ultimate couples bucket list getaway. Adding romantic castles to the list takes romance to the next level. Keep on reading to see what the best castles in France are worth visiting.

Visit the Magical Castles in France

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Lesley Connor from Empty Nesters Travel Insights

Chateau Tanlay- Yonne, Burgundy

Arriving in the small village of Tanlay, near Auxerre in northern Burgundy, it is hard to imagine that one of the finest remaining examples of French Renaissance architecture lies within the stone castle walls.

Passing through the gatehouse into the extensive parklands surrounding the 16th-century chateau, you are greeted with the imposing sight of Chateau Tanlay. Surrounded by carp-filled moats, a drawbridge flanked with unique conical turrets leads you into the main courtyard. 

Built mainly during the 16th and 17th centuries, the wings of the limestone chateau enclose three sides of the courtyard, framed with two round towers.

The same family has been in residence for over 300 years and unlike many old Chateau, the interior salons and furnishings have been remarkably well preserved.

A guided tour takes you through sumptuously appointed apartments with marble fireplaces, original artworks, and collections of antiques, which you will find in many chateaus throughout France.

Chateau Tanlay, however, has two unique features. The Grand Gallery overlooking the moat and gardens are decorated with unbelievably realistic monochrome trompe l’oeil. The overall effect recreates an ancient Roman Courtyard.

Upstairs is the “Tour de la Lique”, which served as a secret meeting place for Huegenot protestants during the mid-16th-century religious wars. The tower’s cupola is adorned with ornate medieval religious frescoes

Whilst most tours are conducted in French, this was the one privately owned castle we visited in France where the guide made a particular effort to give us an English translation of his narrative.

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Eloise from My Favourite Escapes

 Château de Chenonceau, Indre-et-Loire

The Chateau de Chenonceau is the most visited Loire Valley castle and the second most visited castle in France after Versailles. It’s an important monument of France’s architectural and historical cultural heritage.

Chenonceau is a fascinating place to experience History. The great interactive audio guide will take you through the stories of those who left their marks on the castle: Kings, their Queens, and their mistresses.

Chenonceau also had a role in the two World Wars, being a military hospital first and then on the Resistance route right at the limit of the Nazi free zone.

Inside the castle, the furniture and tapestries are pieces of art. The bedroom of King Henry III’s wife is particularly remarkable. After the King was killed, she was into a deep depression and lived in a dark atmosphere. Not the usual colorful golden rooms found in other castles.

But Chenonceau also has charms for the visitors not interested in History and royalty. Built in the 16th century with a mix of gothic and renaissance architectures, so the outside is as fascinating as the inside. The bridge spanning over the Cher River is very photogenic and memorable.

You can spend a full day at Chenonceau, and a quick visit won’t take less than two hours. It’s pleasant to take the time to wander in the beautiful gardens. Or you may simply enjoy the views from above, standing on one of the balconies. Some will like the opportunity to cruise on the river to look at the caste from a different angle. Others will prefer to have fun getting lost in Catherine de Medici’s maze.

The castle is open to the public every day of the year. During the high season in summer, it is better to go before 10 am or after 5 pm.

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Kat from Wandering Bird

Château de La Rochefoucauld

One of the things we love best about road tripping around France is the ability to visit places slightly more off the beaten path.

One of these was Chateau de la Rochefoucauld, a breathtaking castle perched on a hill about 20km from the city of Angoulême.

The chateau is beautifully preserved and still inhabited by the Rochefoucauld family, but you can visit as part of a guided tour several times a day.

The tours cost is 10€ and you will get to see you many living & sitting rooms, as well as the kitchens and an enormous cave in the basement, where you can see how they supported the chateau to stop it crumbling.

However, two things make this chateau stand out for us. One is the incredible marble staircase that winds its way through the heart of the castle (and is based on a design by Leonardo da Vinci). No photo can do the scale of this staircase justice- it’s something you have to see with your own eyes!

But even more amazing than that are the ancient documents preserved inside the library. As part of the tour, you will see boxes and boxes of papers that are several hundred years old. There are letters, love notes, diary entries, important documents about the castle, and even political treaties signed by kings and noblemen. The history in that one room is breathtaking.

The tour guide was very knowledgeable and able to translate from French to English, so you can get a great understanding of what she is showing you.

All in all, it’s one of the most interesting and memorable castles we’ve visited in France.

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Andi from Misadventures With Andi

Château de Villandry, Indre-et-Loire

Most of France’s beautiful chateaus have lovely gardens, particularly in the Loire Valley. However, the most spectacular gardens most definitely belong to the gardens of the Château de Villandry.

It was built in the 16th century, the chateau itself is nice, but the real star is its Renaissance gardens. There are 6 gardens – the ornamental kitchen garden, ornamental garden, water garden, medicinal garden, sun garden, and mazes – and all are perfect for those who love gardens and strolling. The water garden is surrounded by alleys of lime trees and there are over 1000 lime trees total!

My favorite area is the one closest to the chateau, the garden of love. The Love Gardens are divided into 4 sections: tender love, passionate love, flighty love, and tragic love. As you walk through the gardens and get some elevation, there are viewpoints that offer visitors a panorama of magnificent views from the upper terraces and belvederes.

10 gardeners work here all year round and the plants and flowers change seasonally, and the geometric shapes and colorful ornamental designs are wonderful for photography!

The Château de Villandry extremely family-friendly with activities for children. It is a little less than 10 miles from Tours near the intersection of the Cher with the Loire Rivers.

There is free parking under the tree-lined street in front of Château de Villandry or in dedicated parking down the street. There is a picnic area in the town of Villandry and the chateau has a small shop and restaurant as well.

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Ann from TheRoad-IsLife.com

Château de Tarascon, Tarascon

Tarascon is a fortified medieval commune located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. This beautiful French town lies on the banks of the Rhône River between Avignon and Arles and is one of the oldest towns in Southern France.

Tarascon is primarily known for its incredibly well preserved 15th-century fortress, Château de Tarascon. If you’re a castle lover like me, you won’t want to miss out on this spectacular sight!

This impressive castle was constructed at the beginning of the 15th century under the order of King René I. It was built on the edge of the Rhône River and is surrounded by a moat (which is now dry).

Over the centuries, Château de Tarascon served as a fortress protecting the border of Provence. The castle later became a state prison in the 18th century transforming the residential rooms into prison cells. You can still see graffiti on the walls from the prisoners who once occupied the rooms.

As you enter the castle, you will walk across a bridge that crosses the moat, through an impressive archway, and arrive in a large courtyard. During your tour, you will pass through more than 30 different rooms, beautiful courtyards, and a large terrace at the very top.

Breathtaking views of the river, surrounding town, and countryside can be seen from the terrace. The highlight of my visit to Château de Tarascon was admiring the panoramic views from the terrace and imagining what it would have been like to live in this castle while it was under attack during medieval times.

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Karen Keathley from Postcards From Nana

Chateau D’Amboise, Amboise

The city of Amboise is not only a perfect base for exploring the Loire Valley area of France, but it also has its very own castle. The Chateau d’Amboise sits elegantly on a hill above the village with commanding views of the homes, the valley, and the Loire River below.

Leonardo da Vinci was often a guest of King Francis I at the Chateau d’Amboise and is buried in the Chapel of Saint Hubert located on the castle grounds. This chapel is one of the gems of the chateau. It is small, ornate, and beautifully delicate.

When the Chateau d’Amboise was in its prime it was five times bigger than it is now which is hard to imagine when you see how imposing it is today! However, it did suffer years of neglect and was even used as a prison for a time in the1800’s.

It wasn’t fully restored until the 1970s. Because of this long period of abandonment, it is more sparsely furnished than many of the other chateaux. However, I found that the lack of extras allowed a focus on the expanse of the rooms and the lovely details carved into the stone pillars and fireplace mantles. You truly sense the grandness of the architecture at Chateau d’Amboise.

One of my favorite parts of the chateau is the large passageway with a glorious arched ceiling that spirals up into one of the towers. This was built in order to allow horse-drawn carriages to drive straight from the street into the castle and onto the grounds. In addition, the views from the balconies of the chateau and the beautifully terraced gardens are well worth a visit.

This is definitely one of the Chateaux in the area that is a must-see.

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Nadine Maffre from Le Long Weekend

Château de Crazannes, Crazannes

The current Château de Crazannes that resides in France’s Charente-Maritime region dates back to the 14th century. But the land that surrounds it has been home to a castle for much longer.

As early as the 11th century, a feudal castle stood proudly in this spot, surrounded by its deep moats and petite chapel – which have been well preserved and are still seen today. Later, the castle was rebuilt in a similar style and has been slightly adapted by the many families that have taken up residence since.

The most notable resident – not for the work he undertook, but rather for the folklore he inspired – was Jules Gouffier, otherwise known as the Earl of Caravaz. The man that inspired the character of Marquis de Carabas in the famous tale ‘Puss in Boots‘ – or Chat Botté in French – sealed the castle’s popularity for centuries to come.

When you visit the castle today, the Puss in Boots theme still runs subtly throughout the property. But even if you aren’t a fan of the fairytale, it’s an impressive and unique place to visit – especially at Xmas when the castle’s grounds and interior are decorated lavishly for the annual Christmas fête.

Schedule in time to wander the gardens, as they house many surprising and delightful finds. Or for a truly memorable visit, and to get a true taste of castle life, you can stay at this unique castle hotel in France.

Larger groups can even rent out the entire 11th-century dungeon which has been converted into a three-bedroom apartment complete with unbeatable château views.

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Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan

Château de Vincennes, Val-de-Marne

This imposing medieval fortress is located in Vincennes, which was once a separate town but has now become a suburb of Paris. Vincennes is known mostly for its huge, forested park, the Bois de Vincennes.

Now open to the public, the forest was originally the private hunting ground of the royal family, and the first château built here in the 12th century was used as a hunting chalet. Over the years, it was gradually expanded and became a royal residence.

In the 17th century, its formidable tower was turned into a prison. The Marquis de Sade is one of many famous people who found themselves locked up here. Standing at 52 meters, it’s the tallest medieval fortification in France.

The château is surrounded by more than a kilometer of fortification walls, punctuated by six towers and three gates. It has been the venue for numerous royal births and weddings, as well as some grisly executions.

The Sainte-Chapelle is a highlight of any visit to the Château de Vincennes. If you’ve visited the Sainte-Chapelle on the Île de la Cité, you’ll notice many similarities between the two, although this one is smaller. Much of the chapel’s interior was destroyed during the French Revolution, but the stained glass windows have been painstakingly restored.

Château de Vincennes is easily accessible from the center of Paris via metro line 1. Entry is nine euros, although it’s free to visit on the first Sunday of the month if you happen to be visiting at that time.

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Maire Temples and Treehouses

Duché Palace (Duke’s palace) in Provence

Uzès is a gorgeous little fairytale town in Provence and a lovely place to visit on a day trip, not far from the Pont du Gard. It has winding cobbled streets, cute cafes and restaurants, bell towers and medieval squares. But the centerpiece is the historic Duke’s palace, also known as the Chateau du Duché d’Uzès. This was the castle of the aristocratic Dukes of Uzès for hundreds of years.

You can now visit and take a tour of the castle. Some of the rooms are beautifully decorated with rich antique furnishings.

There are also a few incredible heirlooms on display, such as armor dating back to the times of Joan of Arc, and letters exchanged by one of the Dukes and the philosopher Voltaire.

The entrance ticket currently costs 20 Euro for adults, and when I visited it included a tour conducted in French, but I was given a booklet with the information written out in English.

You can also climb up to the castle ramparts to take in incredible views of the town below. Although the Duché Palace is a small castle, I felt it was worth visiting for the breathtaking rooftop views alone.

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Carol Perehudoff from Wandering Carol

Chateau de Chambord, Loir-et-Cher

A masterpiece of white tuffeau limestone, the formidable Chateau de Chambord is the jewel in the very royal crown of French castles in the Loire Valley.

Located two hours south of Paris in the village of Loir-et-Cher, the chateau is a blend of medieval and renaissance architecture and was built by Francois I, who was King of France from 1515 to 1547.

The chateau took years to complete, and the result is a vast palace of 440 rooms, 84 staircases, and 365 fireplaces. One of the most famous elements of Chambord is the double helix staircase. Consisting of two intertwined spirals, it is believed to have been designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, who came to France in 1516.

While the castle has an imposing, almost impersonal feel, keep an eye out for small unique touches such as the hundreds of salamanders carved into the walls and ceilings. The crowned salamander was a symbol of King Francois, and you’ll see them etched in stone all over the chateau.

Warming up the cold walls is a wonderful collection of tapestries. One not to miss is the famous La Chasse du roi François, which dates back to the 1600s and depicts Francois I on a royal hunt.

The Chateau de Chambord is the most visited castle in the Loire Valley, and there are many ways to see it. You can opt for a guided tour or an independent visit, following the info panels in English and a free visitor guide.

There is also a free 20-minute film, which is a great place to start. For more in-depth information you can rent an audio guide or a HistoPad, which helps you visualize the castle as it was when royals and aristocrats strode the halls.

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Theresa from Fueled By Wanderlust

Château de Fontainebleau, Seine-et-Marne

Chateau Fontainebleau, located in Fontainebleau, France is an excellent option for a day trip from Paris. Located an hour south of the City of Lights, the chateau can be reached via car on highway A6 or via train.

Just catch the train from Gare de Lyon in Paris and get off at the Fontainebleau-Avon station.

What makes Chateau Fontainebleau an attractive place to visit is its deep history with the French monarchy that is on par with Versailles. That is, except for the fact that it doesn’t get the obnoxious crowds that Versailles does.

It’s a shame, too, because this castle is significant to France’s history, having witnessed numerous life and state events dating back to the middle ages.

Various French monarchs and their families were born, baptized, or arranged for marriage here. Of course, the chateau has also seen the occasional political dispute through the ages, as many important meetings were held here.

Several monarchs were also drawn to Fontainebleau to hunt in the vast forests in the surrounding area.

As the chateau changed hands over the centuries, additions were built and rooms were entirely redecorated. The result is a mixture of styles and tastes, including from the likes of Marie Antoinette and Napoleon.

As you tour the castle, you’ll find room after room filled with ornate tapestries that cover entire walls, rare artwork, and ceiling detail that keeps you gazing up until your neck hurts.

One of the most marvelous rooms in the chateau is the Chapelle Haute Saint-Saturnin. A two-story chapel, it has been exquisitely decorated from floor to ceiling. It’s not hard to picture the most powerful families in France attending services in such a beautiful space.

If you want the grandeur of Versailles, but hate crowds, Fontainebleau is your castle.

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Elisa from World in Paris

Château de Versailles, Versailles

Château de Versailles is the most famous and most beautiful castle in France. It is located in the city of Versailles at only 15 km south-west of Paris. Because of its proximity to the French capital, the Paris to Versailles day trip is one of the most popular day trips from Paris.

Versailles was built between 1661–1678 under the rule of King Louis XIV. He transformed his father’s former hunting lodge in the forest of Versailles into a magnificent 2-floor chateau designed in French Baroque style.

During 3 generations, Versailles was the center of power in France, and nobles and people with a certain degree of power had to spend some time in Versailles, not far from an absolutist king who wanted to control everything.

The Estate of Versailles contains other buildings such as the royal stables and the Trianon. The Trianon area is famous for the Queen’s hamlet, a kind of rural village with houses, a windmill, and a small theater built for the pleasure of the Queen and the royal babies.

Château de Versailles is surrounded by beautiful french style gardens decorated with classic sculptures, fountains, and grooves. The king used to have a daily stroll in the gardens and court parties with baroque music were frequent when the weather was good.

A bit further, the French-style gardens turn into a deep forest, and it is here where visitors can see the Palace’s Grand Canal, which extends 1800 meters to the south end of the park. The Grand Canal was the background of royal naval battles for the entertainment of the King and his court.

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Norbert from France Bucket List

Châteaux de Lastours, Languedoc-Roussillon

Châteaux de Lastours is an ensemble of 4 medieval fortified towers (Cabaret, Tour Régine, Surdespine and Quertinheux) in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon, in Southern France.

Châteaux de Lastours form part of the Cathar Route, which includes different sites related to the Cathars, such as medieval villages, abbeys, and fortress. The Cathar Country road trip is one of the most beautiful road trips in Southern France.

Catharism was a Christian dualist movement that thrived in southern Europe, especially in the Languedoc region in France, between the 12th and the 14th centuries. The Cathar religion proposed a different interpretation of the Gospels and rejected, in particular, the materialistic life full of excesses of the Catholic priests and bishops.

The Catholic Church saw the Cathars as a major threat, especially because it was supported by some powerful noblemen in Southern France. For this reason, the Catholic Pope launched the Cathar Crusades to finish with this religion and its people.

The first three buildings of Châteaux de Lastours (Cabaret, Surdespine, and Quertinheux) were built in the IX century by the lords of Cabaret to protect the village of Cabaret located at their foot.

The Lords of Cabaret later became very close to the Catharism and the Châteaux were very active during the Cathar Crusades. Over the years, Lastours was besieged many times until 1229 when Cabaret capitulated definitely.

After that, Cabaret became a royal fortress and the French King ordered the construction of a fourth tower, the Tour Régine, to affirm his supremacy over Lastours and Cabaret.

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Gillian from Bucket List France

Le Château des Milandes, Dordogne

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to visiting châteaux in the Dordogne in South West France – it is the land of 1001 châteaux after all!

One of our favorites is the fairytale castle ‘Le Château des Milandes’ which is also known as the ‘The Josephine Baker Château’.

Located in the heart of the Périgord noir, overlooking the Dordogne Valley, this castle dates back to the 15th century. It was built in 1489 by François de Caumont to please his wife who disliked the austere fortress of Castelnaud. It fell into disrepair during the French Revolution but was given a new lease of life in the 20th century.

Josephine Baker, the famous singer-dancer from the 1920s, fell in love with the castle and bought it in 1947. She spent many happy years there with her rainbow tribe of 12 adopted children before losing it to bankruptcy.

Her spirit definitely lives on and throughout your visit, you’ll get to see many of her stage outfits including the iconic banana skirt. The castle also delves into a fascinating period of the artist’s life – her role as a French resistance worker during the Second World War.

You can easily spend 2-3 hours visiting the castle and its grounds. There’s also a fantastic bird of prey show that takes place several times a day throughout the year. And let’s not forget the gardens!

Over the years, the gardens have undergone major restoration work and are now listed as a Historical Monument with the title of ‘Jardin Remarquable’. This chateau is definitely a must on your Dordogne itinerary!

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Gábor Kovács from Surfing the Planet

Palace of the Popes, Avignon

The medieval walled city of Avignon is one of the most impressive towns to visit in Provence. It’s worth dedicating at least a day to explore some of its main monuments from the large City Wall to the famous Bridge of Avignon.

The whole fortified medieval town is UNESCO World Heritage, but the most important highlight is without any doubt the palace that served as the residence of the Papacy in the 14th century.

The Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) became one of the most famous medieval constructions when 7 different popes resided in its interior during the 14th century.

This period called the Avignon Papacy took place between 1309 and 1376 when due to violent events in Rome, Pope Clement decided to move the Holy See to this French town that belonged to the Anjou Dynasty.

The Palais des Papes is both a palace and a fortress, built in Gothic-style and conserved fabulously. If you pay attention, you can see that it’s actually two palaces in one.

The part built during Pope Benedict 12th is from the earlier Gothic period with much more austere forms, whereas the part constructed during Pope Clement 6th is much more sophisticated.

The palace is spectacular from the outside, but it’s worth exploring its large halls, cloisters, and private rooms. It’s a real labyrinth with so many staircases, different floors that only the numbers will avoid that you get lost in the end.

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Castles in France

Melissa from Thrifty Family Travels

Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant, Paris

Rising high into the sky at 167 feet tall, the first thing you see as you enter Disneyland Paris is the Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant.

The castle is better known as Sleeping Beauty’s castle and is the central icon of Disneyland, with the very sight of it transporting both young and old into a land of the magical world of fantasy and fun.

The castle opened in 1992 and features all the elements one would expect from a true fairytale castle. The castle has soaring spires, ornate turrets, regal blue rooftops as well as elements from real French castles and historic monuments.

You enter the castle at ground level where you will find a few little gift shops selling a range of Sleeping Beauty themed souvenirs as well as a store selling Christmas ornaments year-round.

The second level features a range of corridors that have beautiful stained glassed windows, tapestries, and figures that depict the story of Sleeping Beauty.

However, most people visit the castle to go down to the dungeon. Here visitors can walk through the dimly lit cavern and see the 89-foot dragon silently sleeping. Be sure to stay awhile as every now and then you will see the dragon wake up and puff smoke as well as a growl.

Each night, the castle becomes the focal point for the park’s daily spectacular Disney Illuminations show. With the castle as the centerpiece, the show features fireworks, light protections, and stunning special effects that bring all the classic Disney stories to life.

Beautiful Castles in France Conclusion

There is a diverse range of castles to visit in France. From the gorgeous Château de Versailles to the stunning Chateau de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley. All of the picks are rich in beauty and history.  I hope you are able to pick out a castle in France to visit or drive around France and visit them all! Now to head to Champagne.

Do you have a favorite castle in France?

If you are looking for some more Europe inspiration, check out:

 

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