15 of the Most Enchanting Castles in France

<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/ninara/23892891700/in/photolist-CpkjhC-oH4X8A-2LhxCy-MBMcV-xsL5K5-yeGuZK-xsVDoT-xAbCVT-dXB2D7-xDFKBd-ytRWCr-wiyeux-CJamGz-obNDh2-xdFmzF-MoJyUn-9aqUTo-9cuBqZ-xYq2Ua-VDyMyD-wVCovR-yQAdE5-LwQnM3-5nqUh8-dQGsqc-9TW5Nv-98Hv8B-fcuiEF-VEmTvP-o9Lb4m-ze3D98-kgsQbv-iK19c-7Vnbb-5Qz1NA-HWacSQ-wdzg6b-xnUzyy-9sMH7s-emtrg6-wdzgyW-zmw6Tt-oj4mSM-fKLfPS-obNzn8-oceCi7-evx5Js-6KQ6fR-HWaevQ-HWabsf"> Versailles is one of the most enchanting castles in France | © Ninara/Flickr
<a href = "https://www.flickr.com/photos/ninara/23892891700/in/photolist-CpkjhC-oH4X8A-2LhxCy-MBMcV-xsL5K5-yeGuZK-xsVDoT-xAbCVT-dXB2D7-xDFKBd-ytRWCr-wiyeux-CJamGz-obNDh2-xdFmzF-MoJyUn-9aqUTo-9cuBqZ-xYq2Ua-VDyMyD-wVCovR-yQAdE5-LwQnM3-5nqUh8-dQGsqc-9TW5Nv-98Hv8B-fcuiEF-VEmTvP-o9Lb4m-ze3D98-kgsQbv-iK19c-7Vnbb-5Qz1NA-HWacSQ-wdzg6b-xnUzyy-9sMH7s-emtrg6-wdzgyW-zmw6Tt-oj4mSM-fKLfPS-obNzn8-oceCi7-evx5Js-6KQ6fR-HWaevQ-HWabsf"> Versailles is one of the most enchanting castles in France | © Ninara/Flickr
Photo of Alex Ledsom
31 July 2017

Whether in search for medieval fortresses or Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, France is full of intriguing and intricate castles and there’s something for everyone. Here are 15 of the most enchanting including the homes of the Royal Court, the mistresses of kings, Mary Queen of Scots, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Château de Chenonceau

The Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley belonged to Henry II’s mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who commissioned the bridge over the River Cher. It’s apparently due to this bridge that the castle is still standing today—during the French Revolution, the owner saved it from demolition by claiming the attached bridge was important to commerce since it was the only bridge across the river for miles. It is this bridge that also allowed people to flee from Nazi-occupied Germany into the Vichy Government’s stronghold.

Chateau de Chenonceau, Chenonceaux, France

Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg

This medieval castle is on the border with Germany overlooking the Black Forest and—if the skies are clear—the Swiss Alps. It was built on the site of a medieval fortress the Swedish Army burnt down in 1663 and that the Prussian Emperor William II rebuilt in 1865. It became French again after World War I, so it was spared any war damage. It’s one of the most visited in France.

Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg, , France

Versailles

Historical Landmark, Museum
Map View
The Orangerie at Versaille Panoramas/Flickr
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Versailles—probably the most well known of all of France’s castles. In the 11th century, it was a small village; by the 17th century, it was the seat of power and home to the Royal Court under Louis XIV. Now, it’s a museum filled with over 5,000 paintings and over 6,000 pieces of furniture.

Château de Pierrefonds

The Château de Pierrefonds is known as the folly of the Emperor because after it was completely destroyed in the 17th century, Napoleon III decided to rebuild it. He gave instruction to the architect Viollet-le-Duc and the result was a mishmash of styles that made Pierrefonds both a medieval and a 19th-century castle. Some people love its mixture and others hate it.

Château de Pierrefonds, Rue Viollet le Duc, Pierrefonds, France

Cité de Carcassonne

The fortress of Carcassonne is perhaps one of the most iconic in France as it dominates the town. Ever since the Romans first built walls here, the city relied on its fortress to defend itself from attack. In the 1840s, the city voted to destroy the not-inconsiderable remains; luckily, they were opposed by locals and the castle was restored instead.

Cité de Carcassonne, 1 Rue Viollet le Duc, Carcassonne, France

Mont St. Michel

Started as a monastery in the 8th century, Mont St. Michel is another well-known enchanted castle. It was once an island that became part of the mainland that is now being turned back into an island. Built on a rocky outcrop one mile off the coast, a small bridge joined it to the mainland that people used to travel across when the tide was out. In recent years, tidal patterns have built up the silt surrounding the island so it is now technically part of the mainland. The government is going to dredge it so it becomes an island once more.

Mont St. Michel, France

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