The 15 Most Picturesque and Famous Castles in France

The French territory is full of heritage treasures. Discover some of it with our selection of the 15 most picturesque and famous castles in France!

Truly feats of architecture, the castles of France are true testaments to the history of the country. Let yourself be transported into the medieval and enchanting world of the most beautiful castles in France for a journey that will take you back in time.

From Versailles to Peyrepertuse via the majestic Haut-Kœnigsbourg, discover our selection of the 15 most picturesque and famous castles in France!

The 15 Most Picturesque and Famous Castles in France

1. Castle of Haut-Kœnigsbourg

Perched from the top of its mountain, the castle of Haut-Kœnigsbourg dominates the plain of Alsace. Built-in the fifteenth century, it is one of the most emblematic medieval castles in France.

Very well restored and located close to Germany and Switzerland, Haut-Kœnigsbourg is built in the first historical tourist site in Alsace, with an average of 540,000 visitors each year.

Passing through the gates of Haut-Knigsbourg is like leaving for a trip back in time to the Middle Ages. Weapon collections, reconstructions… you will even be able to attend a dramatized visit!

2. The castle of Chambord

To continue our selection of the most beautiful castles in France, head to the Loire Valley! Chambord, built on Francis I’s initiative in the sixteenth century, is undoubtedly the most imposing of all the castles along the Loire.

With 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 13 staircases, the size and immensity of the castle ensure the respect and wonder of its visitors.

3. The Palace of Versailles

How to make a selection of the most impressive castles in France without mentioning that of Versailles?

The Palace of Versailles, 20 kilometers southwest of Paris, is undoubtedly France’s most emblematic landmark. 

The official residence of the Kings of France, the palace itself covers an area of 67,000 square meters! All nestled in a park of 1,070 hectares with splendid French gardens.

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

4. The castle of Chantilly

Located in the Department of Oise, 40 kilometers north of Paris, the Château de Chantilly is a popular estate for art and horse lovers. Furthermore, the two castles it houses, the estate also includes the Chantilly racecourse and the Great Stables.

Finally, the Condé Museum present on the site allows you to discover one of the largest collections of ancient paintings in France, after the Louvre.

5. The castle of Ussé

The architecture of the Château d’Ussé sounds familiar to you? You may have already seen her in a fairy tale. It is the castle that inspired Charles Perrault, the author of Sleeping Beauty.

Dating from the eleventh century, it is now possible to visit the entire castle, from the cellars to the top of the keep. 

You will discover a timeless universe through tapestries, models dressed in period costumes, trompe-l’oeil paintings of seventeenth-century furniture.

6. The castle of Saumur

Perched on a hill southeast of the city center, the castle offers stunning views of the Loire and the old town of Saumur. Initially built in the tenth century under Thibaud I the Cheater, the castle of Saumur now houses the horse museum and the museum of the figurine toy.

With its two towers and its Walt Disney-like architecture, the Château de Saumur defends its place among the most scenic in France!

7. The castle of Fontainebleau

Located in the Seine-et-Marne department, the Château de Fontainebleau is undoubtedly the most breathtaking and imposing in all of France.

Initially built in the twelfth century, the building was the home of the Kings of France and was among Napoleon’s favorite residences. You can even discover his throne and crown in the king’s former chamber.

8. The castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Also, in Seine-et-Marne, discover the sumptuous castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte in the town of Maincy. A masterpiece dating from the seventeenth century is a fine example of French know-how and is mainly known for inspiring the famous Palace of Versailles.

To visit the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte is to discover its baroque architecture, its sumptuously decorated interiors, or its French gardens. 

From June to October, you can even experience something rather unusual: a candlelight visit at nightfall on Saturday evening!

9. The castle of Chenonceau

Located 30 kilometers east of Tour in the Indre-et-Loire, the castle of Chenonceau is a pure wonder built in the middle of the Cher. Connected to the banks by a magnificent bridge, it would seem straight out of a fairy tale.

Built-in the sixteenth century in a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles, it was marked by the presence of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. This excellent site is one of the most visited castles in France to date.

10. The castle of Amboise

The Castle of Amboise is one of France’s most beautiful castles on the Loire side. Overlooking the Loire Valley, it offers a breathtaking panorama to its visitors.

A site steeped in history served as a residence for the Kings of France and has notably hosted talented artists such as Leonardo da Vinci. 

Also, the vast gardens surrounding the castle celebrate the International Garden Festival every year: a perfect time to make your visit!

11. The Cathar castle of Peyrepertuse

Cathar castles are outstanding historical monuments in Occitania, enhancing the richness of the region’s heritage.

With its architectural and grandeur, the castle of Peyrepertuse overlooks the village that bears its name and is considered one of the most beautiful Cathar fortresses in the world. 

Indeed, it would be as large as Carcassonne’s, hence its nickname of “Carcassonne Celeste.” From the top of its rocky outcrop, it served to protect the border with Aragon. A fine example of medieval military architecture.

12. Bonaguil Castle

Located in the Lot-et-Garonne, on the border with the Lot and a stone’s throw from the Dordogne, the Château de Bonaguil is one of the most popular castles in France.

A true symbol of medieval military architecture forms a set of gigantic proportions, all remarkably preserved. 

The castle has simply never been attacked! Immerse yourself in the heart of medieval history with a visit to the castle’s keep, cave, or drawbridge.

13. Castelnau Castle

Located in Prudhomat in the Lot, the castle of Castelnau-Bretenoux overlooks the valleys from the top of its hill. 

Built from the twelfth to the seventeenth century, this imposing medieval fortress in red stones, the seat of the family of barons of Castelnau, was designed to withstand the assaults of medieval wars.

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

14. Castle and ramparts of the city of Carcassonne

How to evoke the most beautiful castles in France without mentioning the city of Carcassonne?

A flagship symbol of the aude and Occitanie departments, this third-century fortress attracts millions of visitors every year. 

Through vertiginous ramparts and an old drawbridge, this tour will immerse you in an enchanting medieval atmosphere. 

For an even more fabulous experience, go in summer for an exceptional sound and light show in the county castle of Carcassonne.

15. The medieval city of Provins

Provins and its medieval city round out our selection of magnificent castles in France.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city promises you an immersion in the heart of medieval times. 

Its Caesar tower, its ramparts, its tithe barn, its museum, or its Saint-Ayoul priory… so many treasures to discover that guarantee you a unique experience.

So, which of these majestic castles is worth the biggest detour, in your opinion?

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