Château de Chenonceau
The Château de Chenonceau is a French château located near the tiny community of Chenonceaux in the department of Indre-et-Loire, Centre-Val de Loire. It is one of the most well-known Loire Valley châteaux. Chenonceau’s estate is first referenced in writing in the 11th century. Chenonceau Castle is also known as the “Ladies Castle” since various notable ladies have left their imprints on its history. Katherine Briçonnet erected it, and Diane of Poitiers and Catherine de Medicis decorated it.
The Château de Chenonceau is in the department of Indre-et-Loire, 30 kilometres east of Tour. It is connected to the ground by spectacular bridges and boasts magnificent gardens to the north and woods to the south. Its architecture, which combines late-Gothic and early Renaissance styles, makes it one of France’s most visited castles.
Château de Chenonceau is well-known because, during WWII, the Grand Gallery at Chenonceau became the only point of entry to the free zone, and the Menier family assisted in smuggling out refugees fleeing the Nazis. On his first trip to France, US President Harry Truman visited the château.
Don’t miss the park’s labyrinth, and make a reservation for lunch at l’Orangerie, the restaurant in the castle’s garden.
Château de Chambord
The Château de Chambord, located 5 kilometers from the Loire River, was built in the 16th century in an immense forested park between Blois and Orléans. The Renaissance-style design of the castle is thought to have been influenced by Leonardo da Vinci himself. Take a snapshot of the castle reflected in the water on the moat’s northwest side. When visiting, grab the audio guide tablet to hear about the history of this spectacular fortress created by King Francis I of France.
Château de Versailles
Versailles is the world’s largest castle, the stately home of France’s most famous kings.
With about 63 hectares of interior space and 815 hectares of grounds (approximately 8000 hectares before the French Revolution! ), the castle is home to a thousand shops for art and culture aficionados.
The Versailles experience is incredible: in addition to the castle, you will be able to see Marie-personal Antoinette’s apartment, temporary exhibitions, and musical representations amid the basins and gardens.
But wait, there’s more!
The Hall of Mirrors, the Battles Gallery, and the Royal Stables are also worth seeing.
The Versailles Estate also features a lovely woodland and the Trianons with the Queen’s farm, where Queen Marie-Antoinette enjoyed pretending to be a peasant.
Château de Versailles was created as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII in the 17th century. King Louis XIV (his son) chose to relocate his court from Paris to Versailles because he thought Paris was too dangerous for him and his family. The simple lodge was transformed into a jewel of French Baroque architecture and the major center of power in France by King Louis XIV and his successors.
The Versailles Gardens are just as spectacular as the château itself. The ornate fountains, water games, and grooves in these French-style gardens are stunning. The King and his court fought naval battles on the spectacular 5.57 km wide Grand Canal.
Location: Versailles, France, 20 kilometers southwest of Paris.
Open: The Palace is open from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, the Estate of Trianon from 12 p.m. to 5.30 p.m., and the Royal Stables from 12.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. The Gardens are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
Phone: +33 (0)1 30 83 78 00
Château de Vincennes
Château de Vincennes is one of the city’s few medieval fortresses. Château de Vincennes, a royal house from the 12th through the 18th centuries, stands magnificently at the city’s entrance.
It can only be reached by walking across its stone bridges, which harken back to the medieval era of the walled castle.
Inside, the courtyard grows and the dungeon rises, reflecting the architectural grandeur of the time: a really spectacular sight.
This amazing fortification rises towering at the gateway to Paris and is ringed by a 7-meter thick ditch. It has the highest dungeon in all of Europe (more than 50 meters!).
You will also be able to ascend the 250 stairs to the summit of the dungeon.
In addition, the location organizes a variety of cultural and artistic events, such as medieval reenactments and other forms of concerts.
For those who wish to learn more about the subject, the castle provides easy guided tours as well as tours accompanied by a competent professor from the “Centre des Monuments Nationaux” (a government entity that administers historical sites).
Another plus: the castle is located directly adjacent to the Parc Floral and the Bois de Vincennes.
Château de Fontainebleau
For its architecture and history, Château de Fontainebleau is one of the greatest castles near Paris. The French Kings’ favourite hunting ground was Fontainebleau Forest, and they erected a beautiful fortress to make the most of it. For seven centuries, this castle housed all of the royal and imperial families of the period, earning him the illustrious moniker “real home of the French Kings.”
The origins of this magnificent fortress outside of Paris may be traced back to the 12th century. Its construction spans about eight centuries and features a variety of styles (medieval, Renaissance, and Classical), and its more than 1,500 rooms and halls are vast and spectacular!
From its massive chapels to its expansive gardens, as well as its museums and art galleries (the castle even has a theatre! ), there is something for everyone.
In addition, the castle provides a variety of exotic activities such as carriage and boat rides, as well as balloon flights!
Another advantage for nature enthusiasts is the proximity to the Fontainebleau forest.
The Grand Parterre, Europe’s biggest formal garden and King Louis XIV’s finest architectural achievement at Fontainebleau, is the centerpiece of the gardens.
Château de Rambouillet
The Château de Rambouillet is famous for being situated in the center of a rich and game-filled forest. Its historic owners, like the Angennes family, the Toulouse-Penthièvres, Louis XVI, Napoleon I, and even our Presidents of the Republic progressively developed it into a pleasure palace and adorned it with magnificent furnishings.
The estate of Rambouillet also welcomes visitors to two unique monuments: Queen Marie-Dairy Antoinette’s and the Cottage with Shells. These two structures were constructed in the 18th century in the centre of 150 hectares of ancient gardens designated as Remarkable Gardens.
A visit to the Château de Rambouillet is a trip back in time to observe how some of the greatest individuals in history lived.
Following the death of Francis I of France within the castle walls in 1547, the Count of Toulouse, Louis XVI, Napoleon I, and, beginning in the late nineteenth century, France’s Presidents converted the grounds into a prominent hunting estate.
Architecture and gardens The French and Anglo-Chinese gardens are full of surprises for tourists. The Diary of Queen Marie-Antoinette exemplifies the beauty of a whole time as well as an art de Vivre heavily inspired by Enlightenment ideas. The ‘Chaumière aux Coquillages,’ or Shell Cottage, is one of Europe’s greatest examples of décor.
Château de Villers-Cotterêts
The Château de Villers-Cotterêts has never been publicly accessible. Nonetheless, it has served as a focal point of French history and architecture. Let us go back in time to examine its exciting past. The Forest of Retz in the Aisne region of France is not new. King Dagobert, I was already hunting there in 632! Successive kings recognized the forest’s richness of wildlife and constructed unpretentious houses there.
The Château de Villers-Cotterêts, located 70 kilometres north of Paris, is a historical and symbolic place for the French language because it was here in 1539 that article 111 of the Villers-Cotterêts ordinance was promulgated, making the use of the French language mandatory in all legal and administrative documents. On March 20, 2018, President Emmanuel Macron said that this location will become a “symbolic cornerstone” of the French language.
Pierre-Olivier Deschamps has been working with the Centre des Monuments Nationaux and the Château de Villers-Cotterêts since June 2020. During the 10,000 m2 restoration process, the photographer is free to monitor and chronicle the site’s progress.
Restoring the Renaissance splendour of a deformed royal residence: this is the immense task that will be undertaken by 2023 in the rebuilding of the castle of Villers-Cotterêts, which will host Emmanuel Macron’s envisioned “international metropolis of the French language.”
Château de Montsoreau
The Château de Montsoreau – Museum of Contemporary Art, located two hours from Paris in the Loire Valley and included on the UNESCO World Heritage list, is a hub of radical, engaged, and lively artistic expression. It was founded in a Loire château and includes unusual architecture, a diverse collection, and display rooms, putting it among the top international institutions dedicated to modern art. The castle is a particularly imaginative Renaissance structure built on a rock in the Loire riverbed called Mount Moreau.
The museum’s permanent collection has the world’s greatest collection of art from the Art & Language movement, a forerunner of Conceptual Art.
The group opposed the ideals of individuality and art for the sake of art in their approach to concerns concerning the link between theory and practice in creative creation. Art & Language, via its formulations, raises critical concerns about signature, anonymity, and neutrality, as well as the social and political essence of a piece of art.
The Château de Montsoreau – Museum of Contemporary Art’s programming reflects the creative riches of today’s artists.
Château de Sully-sur-Loire
Sully Sur Loire is an excellent example of a medieval fortification, with its towering towers and large ditches. It was constructed around the end of the 14th century on a site that provided an unusual crossing of the Loire River. Maximilien de Béthune (1560-1641) was the first Duke of Sully; he purchased the chateau in 1602, strengthened the Loire embankments to prevent the town from floods, established the gardens, and was largely responsible for its restoration. The exterior is extremely similar to the château at Chaumont.
It was passed down through his family until being given to the state in 1962.
They have subsequently worked tirelessly to restore it. It is particularly stunning from the outside, whether you come during the day or in the evening when it is flood-lit.
The Duke of Sully was Henri1V’s First Minister, and together they brought France 20 years of much-needed calm. Following the Religious Wars, the Edict of Nantes established religious tolerance.
He was a tree-planting enthusiast, and many credit him with starting the habit of planting poplars beside roadways, an image that many associates with France.
The typical assortment of tapestries, paintings, sculptures, and French period furniture can be found inside the castle, albeit it is minimal. The Louis XV wing, on the other hand, offers chambers furnished in a 17th-century style to visit.
Every year, as part of the Music Festival De Sully & Du Loiret, the chateau holds a classical music festival.
The Great Hall’s roof is still an amazing structure six centuries after it was built.
Château de Blois
The Chateau of Blois is not only one of France’s most prominent Renaissance structures but also a spectacular example of French architectural progress from the Middle Ages to the 17th century. From Louis XII, who erected the oldest portion of the castle, to Francois I, who added the Renaissance wing with the unusual open circular staircase, it has a long royal history. Under Louis XII, the mediaeval fortress was transformed into a royal palace and the kingdom’s political centre.
The ‘Stateroom,’ the first room of your visit, practically takes your breath away; dated from 1214, its two naves split by six columns are magnificently beautiful.
The main entrance to the château is formed by the Louis XII wing, which is made of red brick and grey stone and has a statue of the mounted king above the door.
Visitors may get their photos taken on the ‘throne’ within the Stateroom and pretend to be royalty for the day.
Your tour begins in the ‘Stateroom’ and continues into the ‘Architecture Rooms’ in the chateau’s ancient kitchens, where you will see examples of original sculptures from various portions of the chateau structures.
with special attention to restoring the floor tiles to their former state
The chateau has its son et lumière’ performance, which takes place in the courtyard late on summer evenings.
I am a French history enthusiast and blogger. I love to travel around France, exploring its many historical sites and sharing my passion with my readers. I am also an avid photographer, and my blog features many of my stunning photos of France’s beautiful landscape and architecture.