France’s 15 most beautiful castles

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The French territory is overflowing with heritage treasures. Discover some of them with our selection of the 15 most beautiful châteaux in France!

France’s castles are not only architectural feats, they also bear witness to the country’s history. Let yourself be transported into the enchanting medieval world of France’s most beautiful châteaux, for a journey back in time.

From Versailles to Peyrepertuse and the majestic Haut-Kœnigsbourg, discover our selection of the 15 most beautiful châteaux in France!

1. Haut-Kœnigsbourg castle

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

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Perched atop its mountain, Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg dominates the Alsace plain. Built in the 15th century, it is definitely one of France’s most emblematic medieval castles.

Haut-Kœnigsbourg is the most visited historic site in Alsace, with an average of 540,000 visitors every year, thanks to its location nearGermany and Switzerland.

Passing through the gates of the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is like setting off on a journey back to the Middle Ages. Weapon collections, reconstructions… you can even take part in a theatrical tour!

2. Chateau de Chambord

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To continue our selection of the most beautiful châteaux in France, let’s head for the Loire Valley! Built in the 16th century on the initiative of François I, the Château de Chambord is without doubt the most imposing of all the Loire châteaux.

Indeed, with 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 13 main staircases, the castle’s stature and immensity guarantee respect and wonder for its visitors.

3. The Palace of Versailles

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How can you make a selection of France’s most beautiful châteaux without mentioning Versailles?

Located 20 kilometers southwest of Paris, the Château de Versailles is certainly the country’s most emblematic palace. The official residence of the Kings of France, the palace itself covers an area of 67,000 square meters! All nestled in a 1,070-hectare park with splendid French gardens.

No fewer than 700 rooms, 1,250 fireplaces and 67 staircases characterize the excess and luxury of this rich witness to French history.

4. Chantilly castle

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Located in the department of Oise, 40 kilometers north of Paris, the Château de Chantilly is a favorite with art and horse lovers alike. In addition to its two châteaux, the estate also includes the Chantilly racecourse and the Grandes Écuries.

Last but not least, the on-site Musée Condé boasts one of the largest collections of early paintings in France, after the Louvre.

5. Château d’Ussé

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Does the architecture of the Château d’Ussé look familiar? Perhaps you’ve already seen it in a fairy tale. In fact, this is the castle that inspired Charles Perrault, the author of Sleeping Beauty.

Dating back to the 11th century, it is now possible to visit the entire château, from the cellars to the top of the keep. You’ll discover a timeless world of tapestries, mannequins dressed in period costumes, trompe-l’œil paintings and 17th-century furniture.

6. Saumur castle

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Perched on a hill to the south-east of the town center, the château offers a breathtaking view of the Loire River and Saumur’s old town. Originally built in the 10th century under Thibaud I le Tricheur, the Château de Saumur now houses the Musée du Cheval and the Musée de la figurine-jouet.

With its two towers and Walt Disney-style architecture, the Château de Saumur defends its place as one of France’s most beautiful!

7. Château de Fontainebleau

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Located in the town of the same name in the Seine-et-Marne département, the Château de Fontainebleau is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and imposing in France.

Originally built in the 12th century, the building was home to the Kings of France, and was one of Napoleon’s favorite residences. You can even see his throne and crown in the former king’s bedroom.

8. Vaux-le-Vicomte castle

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Still in Seine-et-Marne, discover the sumptuous Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte in the commune of Maincy. A masterpiece dating from the 17th century, it is a fine example of French craftsmanship and is best known for having inspired the famous Château de Versailles.

A visit to the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte means discovering its Baroque architecture, sumptuously decorated interiors and formal gardens. You can even enjoy a somewhat unusual experience: a candlelit tour at dusk on Saturday evenings between June and October!

9. Chenonceau castle

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Located 30 kilometers east of Tour in the Indre-et-Loire region, the Château de Chenonceau is a pure marvel built in the middle of the Cher River. Connected to the banks by a magnificent bridge, it looks like something out of a fairy tale.

Built in the 16th century in a blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles, it was marked by the presence of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Médicis. This exceptional site is one of the most visited castles in France today.

10. Amboise castle

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To round off our selection of France’s most beautiful chateaux on the Loire, we’d like to introduce you to the majestic medieval fortress that is the Château d’Amboise. Overlooking the Loire Valley, it offers visitors a breathtaking panorama.

A site steeped in history, it has served as residence to the Kings of France, and has played host to such great artists as Leonardo da Vinci. Also, the vast gardens surrounding the château celebrate the annual International Garden Festival: a great time to visit!

11. The Cathar castle of Peyrepertuse

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The Cathar castles of Occitanie are historic monuments that can’t be ignored, and are part of the region’s rich heritage.

Overlooking the village that bears its name, the Château de Peyrepertuse is the epitome of one of the finest Cathar fortresses, both in terms of architecture and grandeur. Indeed, it is said to be as large as Carcassonne, hence its nickname of « Carcassonne Céleste ». From the top of its rocky spur, it served to protect the border with Aragon. A fine example of medieval military architecture.

12. Bonaguil castle

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Situated in the Lot-et-Garonne region, on the Lot border and just a stone’s throw from the Dordogne, Château de Bonaguil is definitely one of France’s finest châteaux.

A true symbol of medieval military architecture, the building forms an ensemble of gigantic proportions, all remarkably well preserved. In fact, the castle has simply never been attacked! Immerse yourself in medieval history with a visit to the castle’s keep, grotto and drawbridge.

13. Castelnau castle

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Located at Prudhomat in the Lot department, the Castelnau-Bretenoux fortified castle overlooks the valleys from the top of its hill. Built between the 12th and 17th centuries, this imposing red-stone medieval fortress, seat of the Barons de Castelnau family, was designed to withstand the onslaughts of medieval warfare.

Finally, Castelnau castle is an undeniable witness to the evolution of castral architecture.

14. Castle and ramparts of the city of Carcassonne

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How can we talk about France’s most beautiful châteaux without mentioning the city of Carcassonne?

The flagship symbol of the Aude department and of Occitania, this 3rd-century fortress attracts millions of visitors every year. With its soaring ramparts and ancient drawbridge, this visit will immerse you in an enchanting medieval atmosphere. For an even more fabulous experience, join us in summer for an exceptional sound and light show at Carcassonne’s château comtal.

15. The medieval town of Provins

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To round off our selection of France’s most beautiful châteaux, let’s head for the medieval town of Provins!

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town promises to take you back to medieval times. Its Caesar tower, ramparts, tithe barn, museum and Saint-Ayoul priory are just some of the treasures to be discovered, guaranteeing a unique experience.

So, which of these majestic châteaux do you think deserves the biggest detour?