With hundreds of years of history behind it and some of the most stunning countryside in all of Europe, it’s not surprise that France is also home to some beautiful castles and stately homes.
Visiting France’s most historic buildings is a great way to learn more about the country’s unique people, colourful culture and interesting history. Through beautiful grounds and stunning rooms you can see the past come to life – and many of the more popular attractions in the country have the option of audio guides and tours to help you learn more detailed information about the place you’re visiting and who once called it home.
The 10 Most popular stately homes, palaces and castles
- Palace of Versailles – Perhaps the most famous, and certainly one of the most beautiful on the list, Versailles is easily reached from Paris and has grounds nearly as impressive as the rooms themselves.
- Palace of the Popes – Hiding away in Avignon is the stunning Palace of the Popes, featuring a mix of French and Italian architecture, plus some interesting gargoyles to guard the building.
- Mont-Saint-Michel – This fortified city is home to a stunning castle and one of the most romantic and interesting structures in the whole country. Isolated by the tides each day, the water creates a barrier between the floating city and the mainland.
- Chateau Montfort – Set in the east part of Dordogne, Aquitaine, this 12th century castle on a rocky ledge proudly guards the area that surrounds it and offers up some stunning photo opportunities to boot.
- Tarascon Castle – This medieval castle built in the late 1300s in Provence is small but marvelous. Surrounded by the Rhone River and some beautiful landscapes, you can find history and beauty in equal measure.
- Château de Vincennes – Once the favoured hunting grounds of King Louis VII, the imposing Château de Vincennes has been home to French kings like Charles IV, Louis X, Philippe III, Philippe IV, and Philippe V. With beautiful rounded towers and a strong perimeter, there’s much to spark your imagination here.
- The Castle of Foix – Built as protection for its owners in the hills of the Pyrenees, the three towers of this hilltop castle are visible for miles as you approach the picturesque fortress.
- Château de Beynac – One of the best preserved castles in the region, this fortress was built in the 12th century and still stands as a testament to the history of the area.
- Château de Vitré – Brittany’s Château de Vitré is a stunning example of medieval architecture and one of the most beautiful castles in the region.
- Chinon Castle – This fortress in the Loire Valley is one of the most unique and well preserved in France. The site was first built on in the 10th century and its famous patrons have included Cardinal Richelieu.
Planning your visit
If you’re planning to head out and explore some of France’s most famous castles the most important thing to do is plan ahead – travel guides like those offered by Rough Guides and Lonely Planet can offer tips and tricks for things to see and do as you’re travelling through the country and exploring France’s many castles. Dedicated travel blogs like France This Way are also filled with useful information about where to visit and when and can help you in the planning stages before you leave home.
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