Although the French word Chateau is most often trans­lat­ed as cas­tle in oth­er lan­guages, it most often means a palace or res­i­dence in French. For exam­ple, the famous Château de Ver­sailles bears no resem­blance to a cas­tle, thus it is known as the Palace of Ver­sailles. There are thou­sands of cas­tles in France rang­ing from ruins to quite nor­mal con­di­tion. Some of the most vis­it­ed French cas­tles are locat­ed in the South of France and in the Loire Val­ley, pop­u­lar because of their Renais­sance style of archi­tec­ture.

castles in france

Entry relat­ed to loca­tion: France

Life­Globe has already writ­ten about the cas­tles of the Loire, where the most out­stand­ing archi­tec­tur­al struc­tures are select­ed. In this arti­cle, we will high­light a num­ber of the most beau­ti­ful of them.

1. Chateau Chantilly

Locat­ed just 40 kilo­me­ters north of Paris, the Château de Chan­til­ly and all its charm attract many tourists. Built in 1560, Chan­til­ly is a com­plex of rooms, fine art gal­leries, mag­nif­i­cent gar­dens and impos­ing sta­bles. The tour cov­ers the ornate rooms with their exquis­ite chan­de­liers, dec­o­ra­tive carv­ings, fur­ni­ture and art­work. Note­wor­thy is the col­lec­tion of paint­ings and books in the muse­um of one of the finest art gal­leries in France. A walk through the grounds takes vis­i­tors through Eng­lish gar­dens with beau­ti­ful pavil­ions, sculp­tures and foun­tains. The cas­tle over­looks the Great Sta­bles and the Chan­til­ly Track, which was used as a scene in the James Bond film A View to a Kill.

beautiful castles

2. Pierrefonds Castle

Among the most beau­ti­ful cas­tles in France, it is also worth not­ing the Chateau de Pier­re­fonds. Often used as a film­ing loca­tion for TV shows, Château Pier­re­fonds is perched on a hill over­look­ing a pic­turesque vil­lage. Orig­i­nal­ly built in the 12th cen­tu­ry, the pier­fon was lat­er besieged in 1617 by the sec­re­tary of war, Car­di­nal Riche­lieu, when its own­er joined the polit­i­cal par­ty opposed to King Louis XIII. Aban­doned by Riche­lieu’s troops, the cas­tle remained in ruins for two cen­turies until Napoleon Bona­parte decid­ed to start a restora­tion project dur­ing the mid-1800s. Although Napoleon mod­ern­ized Pier­re­fonds, the spa­cious rooms remained unfur­nished. How­ev­er, vis­i­tors can appre­ci­ate the splen­dor of the cas­tle as they view the charm­ing draw­bridge, court­yard, tow­ers, cor­ri­dors, chapel and under­ground crypt, which con­tains the remains of sev­er­al French kings.

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3. Chateau de Chaumont

Sit­u­at­ed in the Loire Val­ley, Chau­mont Chateau has a his­to­ry that is as col­or­ful as its strik­ing exte­ri­or. The cas­tle was built in 1465 on the remains of a 10th cen­tu­ry fortress. But it was soon destroyed when King Louis XI dis­cov­ered that its own­er, Pierre d’Am­boise, had orga­nized a rebel­lion against the king. Hav­ing been restored decades lat­er by King Hen­ry II’s infa­mous wife, Cather­ine de’ Medici, who bought Chau­mont and often enter­tained famous peo­ple here, such as the astrologer Nos­tradamus. After that, the cas­tle went through var­i­ous own­ers, final­ly being donat­ed in 1938 to the French gov­ern­ment. Today, vis­i­tors can tour the cas­tle to view its ele­gant inte­ri­or, gar­dens, lav­ish sta­bles, scenic views of the Loire Riv­er and coun­try­side.

4. Chambord is one of the most beautiful castles in France

Also locat­ed in the Loire Val­ley, Cham­bord Cas­tle eas­i­ly stands out for its remark­able design and size. Regard­ed as one of France’s finest exam­ples of Renais­sance archi­tec­ture, Cham­bord Cas­tle was built in the 16th cen­tu­ry as a hunt­ing res­i­dence for King François I. This grand cas­tle has 440 rooms and 300 fire­places, as well as many oth­er amaz­ing fea­tures. such as its dou­ble helix stair­case and elab­o­rate roof chim­neys, domes, gables and tow­ers that evoke the city sky­line. Cham­bord is a hunt­ing reserve sur­round­ed by a moat and a wall, on the ter­ri­to­ry of which wild boars, deer and many oth­er ani­mals live.

5. Legendary Versailles

As one of the most famous Châteaus in France, Ver­sailles attracts more than 3 mil­lion vis­i­tors annu­al­ly. This mag­nif­i­cent palace was built in 1624 as a hunt­ing lodge for King Louis XIII and lat­er expand­ed to become the res­i­dence of the French Roy­al Fam­i­ly. The palace’s stun­ning fea­tures include the Hall of Mir­rors, a cor­ri­dor with sev­en­teen mir­rored arch­es, and many oth­er details. In the Queen’s bed­room, vis­i­tors can view the hid­den door through which Marie Antoinette escaped. With its mag­nif­i­cent halls, Ver­sailles is a must-see. Vis­it also the 250-acre Eng­lish Palace Gar­dens, which are designed in a geo­met­ric idyll of trees, flow­ers and paths.

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In con­tin­u­a­tion, read also about the most famous cas­tles in Eng­land in a sep­a­rate selec­tion.