The 23 Best Castles In France To Visit

Château de Chambord - Best castles in France

The best castles in France look like they’re straight out of a fairytale.

Many of them are over 500 years old and they’re still standing strong!

That might sound old, but most of the castles went through rebuilds to stay beautiful and preserved. And most of them are national monuments of France and serve as museums.

Since we love castles and the country of France so much…

We decided to make a list of our favorite castles in France.

So check them out below and keep in mind which ones you want to visit whenever you travel to France!

 

23) Château de Quéribus

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Location: Cucugnan, Aude, France

Constructed: 11th century

Château de Quéribus makes our list because of the amazing views you’ll see when you visit. The castle is nearly 2400 feet above sea level!

The castle is one of the Five Sons of Carcassonne. Quéribus and its 4 brothers protected the French border from the Spanish until the 17th century.

 

22) Château de la Roche Courbon

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Location: Saint-Porchaire, Charente-Maritime, France

Constructed: 15th century

Château de la Roche Courbon is now a private home and historic monument. But its origins come from a large castle built in the 15th century.

In 1920, Paul Chénereau bought the abandoned castle and turned it into the beautiful home it is today. The castle has one of the best gardens in France!

 

21) Château de Verteuil

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Location: Charente, Poitou-Charentes, France

Constructed: 11th century

Château de Verteuil is one of the oldest castles in France! This historic castle dates back to the year 1080. A lot has happened since then, but the walls from the 12th century still hold the castle together!

Here are some of the wars the castle was around for:

  • Hundred Years’ War
  • French Wars of Religion
  • French Revolution
  • World War 2

The English and Germans each held this castle hostage at one point and time. And the castle has also been through several rebuilds and renovations.

But the castle is as beautiful as ever today!

 

20) Château de Val

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Location: Lanobre, Cantal, France

Constructed: 15th century

Château de Val is an impressive fortified castle that lies on a man-made lake. The castle also has a gothic chapel built around the same time.

Today, the castle is a fleshed out as a tourist attraction. You can visit the castle and take advantage of the area outside as well. Next to the castle is a beach for swimming and several walks you can go on!

 

19) Château des Baux-de-Provence

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Location: Les Baux-de-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhône, France

Constructed: 10th century

Château des Bauxx-de-Provence watches over the village of Les Baux-de-Provence. And it’s been there since the 10th century!

Not much of the castle remains intact today, but it’s still one of the best places to visit in France.

There are amazing views of the ruins and the area surrounding the castle. And the village of Les Baux-de-Provence is one of the most beautiful in France!

 

18) Château de Bonaguil

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Location: Saint-Front-sur-Lemance, Lot-et-Garonne, France

Constructed: 13th century

Château de Bonaguil is the last fortified built in the country of France. The castle started out as a much more simpler model in the 13th century.

But Bérenger de Roquefeuil added a lot to the castle during the 15th and 16th centuries. He thought the castle needed to be ready for attacks. So he added more defensive features to the castle.

But an attack never came!

Oh well, we’re not complaining. We’ve got a really cool castle to visit now!

 

17) Château des Milandes

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Location: Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, Dordogne, France

Constructed: 15th century

The Château des Milandes is actually considered a “manor house” and not a castle. The original owners didn’t want a traditional castle because it would be uncomfortable.

Well, it’s got a tower so that’s good enough for us!

Whatever you’d like to call it… You can visit it whenever you’re in the Dordogne area.

 

16) Château de Brissac

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Location: Brissac-Quincé, Maine-et-Loire, France

Constructed: 11th century

The Château de Brissac started off in the castle in the 11th century. But several wars lead to the castle getting a rebuild more than once.

You can thank the French Wars of Religion and the French Revolution for making the castle to what it is today.

Today, Château de Brissac is the tallest castle in the Loire Valley and it’s open to the public for visiting. You can even spend the night in one of the castle’s rooms.

 

15) Château de Menthon

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Location: Menthon-Saint-Bernard, Haute-Savoie, France

Constructed: 13th century

Château de Menthon started out as a wooden guard post in the 10th century. Construction on the buildings of the actual castle started during the 13th century.

Today, you can visit the 105 rooms and 4 stories of history that remain in the castle.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • 13th-century kitchens and grand hall
  • pictures and antiques from the 16th and 19th century
  • a library that contains over 12,000 pieces of work and historic manuscripts

 

14) Château d’Angers

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Location: Angers, Maine-et-Loire, France

Constructed: 9th century

The origins of Château d’Angers dates all the way back to the 9th century! That’s good enough to be one of the oldest castles in France!

The castle saw an expansion in the 13th century and served as an armory during World War 1 and 2. The Nazis caused severe damage to the inside of the castle.

The castle has seen a lot!

Today, the castle holds the largest and oldest collection of medieval tapestries in the world.

 

13) Château de Chantilly

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Location: Chantilly, France

Constructed: 16th century

The original Château de Chantilly was a mansion built during the 16th century. The mansion was rebuilt during the 19th century after getting destroyed during the French Revolution.

Today, the chateau holds the finest paintings collections in France after the Louvre.

 

12) Château de Vitre

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Location: Vitré, Ille-et-Vilaine, France

Constructed: 13th century

Château de Vitre is a castle the originated from a wooden castle built around the year 1000. The castle experienced the rebuild into it’s stone form in the 13th century. And eventually expanded in the 15th century.

The castle is one of the most impressive medieval castles you’ll ever see.

And the great part about visiting Vitre and its castle is…

The crowds are much smaller compared to the bigger cities in France!

 

11) Palais des Papes

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Location: Avignon, France

Constructed: 13th century

Palais des Papes is one of the biggest and most historical buildings in all of Europe. The palace was the home of the pope and the center of Western Christianity during the 14th century.

Here are some of the popes elected there:

  • Benedict XII
  • Clement VI
  • Innocent VI
  • Urban V
  • Gregory XI
  • Antipope Benedict XIII

Today, the palace is one of the top tourist attractions in France and attracts over 650,000 people a year.

 

10) Château d’Amboise

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Location: Amboise, Indre-et-Loire, France

Constructed: 11th century

Château d’Amboise used to be a fortified castle for defensive purposes when it opened. But it was eventually converted from defense to comfort.

Instead of holding off enemy attacks…

The castle began to serves as the home for French Kings during the 15th through 19th centuries.

After getting demolished during the French Revolution, the castle now only 1/5 the size of what it used to be.

Today, it’s a great place to visit for its Renaissance decor and impressive gardens.

 

9) Château de Fontainebleau

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Location: Fontainebleau, Seine-et-Marne, France

Constructed: 12th century

Château de Fontainebleau used to be the royal home of influential French monarchs. Rules like Napoleon III, Francis I, and Louis VII called the chateau home during their rule.

After Versailles, the palace is one of the most impressive buildings in France. Today, it’s one of the most visited national museums in France.

Some of the highlights of the museum include:

  • Gallery of Francis 1
  • Ballroom created by Henry II
  • Boudoir of Marie-Antoinette
  • Throne Room of Napoleon
  • Apartment of the Pope and of the Queen-Mothers

 

8) Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

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Location: Orschwiller, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France

Constructed: 12 century

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is a castle that protected the French from enemy attacks. But it was unable to do hold off attacks during the Thirty Years War in the 17th century. The castle got destroyed by Swedish troops and they also looted the building.

The castle remained abandoned until restorations started during the 19th century.

Today, the castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in France and gets over 500,000 visitors a year.

 

7) Château de Vincennes

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Location: Vincennes, Val-de-Marne, France

Constructed: 14th century

Château de Vincennes is a historic castle that protected the city of Paris for decades. The castle was present for the Hundred Years’ War, Battle of Paris, and World War II.

It used to serve as a prison from the 16th century to the 19th century.

During the 19th century, Napoleon turned the castle into a barracks and arsenal. His wanted to use the chateau to protect Paris from attacks in the 19th century.

The castle is now a museum that holds amazing collections from its past.

 

6) Château de Pierrefonds

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Location: Pierrefonds, Oise, France

Constructed: 14th – 15th century

Château de Pierrefonds is a textbook example of defensive military architecture during the Middle Ages.

The castle got demolished and abandoned during the 17th century. That lasted until Napoleon III bought the castle to restore it. The castle got a much-needed makeover with a beautiful Medieval design.

 

5) Mont Saint-Michel

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Location: Normandy, France

Constructed: 8th century

Mont Saint Michel is a fortified island that still has its walls from the 8th century intact.

Since enemies were not able to conquer the island during the Hundred Years War…

It looks like the defensive walls worked pretty well!

That’s a good thing because this island is tiny.

The island is less than 1000 acres in size and has a circumference of about 3150 feet. And it only had a population of 50 people in 2015.

It may be small in size, but Mont Saint Michel is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever visit!

It’s 3 million annual visitors makes it one of the most visited landmarks in France. So be ready for the crowds when you visit!

 

4) Cité de Carcassonne

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Location: Carcassonne, Aude, Occitanie, France

Constructed: 100 BC

Cité de Carcassonne is a fortified citadel in the city of Carcassonne. It’s a city within a city!

The original fortification dates all the way back to 100 BC. The Ancient Romans fortified the hilltop the current city lies on.

Because of Carcassonne’s age, the walls went through many restorations over time. The most recent and final one took place in the 19th century.

Today, the castle’s walls are almost 2 miles in length and it has 52 watch towers looking over the city.

 

3) Versailles

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Location: Yvelines, Île-de-France, France

Constructed: 17th century

The Palace of Versailles is the most popular palace in France if not the most popular palace in the world. The palace’s original purpose was serving as the royal residence of Louis XIV.

Today, it’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. Over 7.5 million people visit the palace each year!

You need to put the palace high on your list if you’re visiting Paris in the future!

Here are some of the main attractions:

  • Hall of Mirrors
  • Gardens of Versailles
  • Royal Chapel
  • Royal Opera
  • Private apartments of the King and Queen

 

2) Château de Chenonceau

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Location: Chenonceaux, Indre-et-Loire, France

Constructed: 16th century

Château de Chenonceau lies on the River Cher near the small village of Chenonceaux. Just because it doesn’t guard a big city doesn’t mean it hasn’t seen its fair share of action.

The castle faced bombings and occupation by the Germans during World War 2.

Today, it’s one of the most visited castles in France.

Beautiful architecture…

Stunning gardens…

And the location on the river makes Chenonceau a fairytale destination for visitors.

If you get the chance, take a small rowboat around the river!

 

1) Château de Chambord

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Location: Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France

Constructed: 16th century

Château de Chambord is a castle that never saw completion. But it’s still one of the most recognizable chateaus in the world. That’s why we made it our top castle in France.

The architecture of the castle has a blend of traditional French medieval and classical Renaissance.

And even though the building never saw completion…

The chateau inspired many real-life ideas and creations.

Schwerin Palace in Germany used Chambord as its own model during its rebuild in the 19th century.

Château de Chambord also inspired the Beast’s Castle in Beauty and the Beast. It inspired both the animated classic and the live-action remake!

Make sure you add this castle to your bucket list!

 

Conclusion

Aren’t they amazing?

It’s great to see such historic buildings still standing strong in today’s world.

So next time you plan on visiting France, make sure to add some of these castles to the list of sights you want to see.

Have you ever visited one of these castles?

How was it?

Tell us about it in the Comment Section!

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