A great number of picturesque castles and fortified towns with rich histories can be found throughout France.  Check out ten of the most beautiful of these architectural wonders plus a superb video presentation of these castles that are just waiting to be discovered by travelers.

Top 10 most beautiful castles in France

A great number of picturesque castles and fortified towns with rich histories can be found throughout France. France has hundreds of the continent’s most impressive and beautiful castles and forts. Check out ten of the most beautiful of these architectural wonders that are just waiting to be discovered by travelers.

10.Castle of Azay-le-Rideau

castle of azay-le-rideau

The Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau was built between 1518 and 1527; this castle is considered one of the foremost examples of early French renaissance architecture.
Set on an island in the middle of the Indre river, this picturesque chateau has become one of the most popular of the chateaux of the Loire valley. A subtle blend of French tradition and innovative Italian decor, it is an icon of the new art of building in the Loire Valley in the 16th century.
Its successive owners have helped to make it a harmonious treasure in the Loire Valley.
In 1905, the Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau came under State ownership. A major restoration project was undertaken by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux. This restoration has fully restored the slate roofing and repair the remarkable early 16th century ...... view details

9.Castle of Niort

castle of niort

The Castle of Niort, or the Donjon de Niort, is a medieval castle consisting of two square towers; it is located in the center of the town of Niort, dominating the Sevre Niortaise river.
The castle was started by Henry II Plantagenet in the 12th century and it was completed by his son Richard the Lionheart. Following his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henri II, who also became King of England, took control of most of western France. He needed a strategic base from which he could maintain connections with England and defend his French possessions. He chose a site on the banks of the Sevre River where an earlier fortification (probably dating back to Roman times) was still visible.
The castle ...... view details

8.Crest Tower

crest tower

With a height of 52 meters, the Crest Tower is the highest surviving keep in France and one of the highest in Europe. Originally, it was a major component of a vast fortress which dominated Crest and its valley.
The valley of the Drome river has always been of strategic importance due to the trade routes from southern France to Italy through the Alps. The first written document is a papal letter of 1120 that suggests that a fortress was already in place. Moreover, at about this time, a medieval town was beginning to develop around the fortress; it bore the name of the master of the area, Lord Arnaud de Crest.
The castle was built in several stages but by the end of ...... view details

7.Castle of Amboise

castle of amboise

The royal Chateau at Amboise was confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century, it became a favoured royal residence and was extensively rebuilt. King Charles VIII died at the chateau in 1498 after hitting his head on a door lintel.
The chateau fell into decline from the second half of the 16th century and the majority of the interior buildings were later demolished, but some survived and have been restored, along with the outer defensive circuit of towers and walls. It has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1840.
Leonardo da Vinci is buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, adjoining the Chateau, which had been built in 1491-96.... view details

6.Castle of Fontainebleau

castle of fontainebleau

The castle of Fontainebleau is one of the biggest royal castles in France; it is located in the town of Fontainebleau, 55 km from Paris.
The Chateau de Fontainebleau can proudly claim to have been a sovereign residence for eight centuries. Capetiens, Valois, Bourbons, Bonaparte and Orleans, all members of French ruling dynasties, have lived within these walls.
Kings and queens, emperors and empresses have all striven to make their own improvements to the chateau built around the original keep. The estate quickly became a huge palace in which many momentous historical events have been played out.... view details

5.Castle of Angers

castle of angers

The Chateau d'Angers was founded in the 9th century by the Counts of Anjou, and it was expanded to its current size in the 13th century. It is located overhanging the river Maine.
Today, owned by the City of Angers, the massive, austere castle has been converted to a museum housing the oldest and largest collection of medieval tapestries in the world, with the 14th century "Apocalypse Tapestry" as one of its priceless treasures.
As a tribute to its fortitude, the castle has never been taken by any invading force in history. ... view details

4.Citadel of Carcassonne

citadel of carcassonne

The medieval Citadel of Carcassonne is located on a hill on the right bank of the River Aude, in the south-east part of the city proper. Founded during the Gallo-Roman period, the citadel derives its reputation from its 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long double surrounding walls interspersed by 52 towers.
The town of Carcassonne has about 2,500 years of history and has seen the Romans, Visigoths, Saracens and Crusaders. The citadel was restored at the end of the 19th century and in 1997 it was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.... view details

3.Castle of Chenonceau

castle of chenonceau

The Chateau de Chenonceau spans the River Cher, near the small village of Chenonceaux. It is one of the best-known chateaux of the Loire valley.
The estate of Chenonceau is first mentioned in writing in the 11th century. The current chateau was built in 1514-1522 on the foundations of an old mill and was later extended to span the river. The bridge over the river was built (1556-1559) to designs by the French Renaissance architect Philibert de l'Orme, and the gallery on the bridge (1570-1576) to designs by Jean Bullant.... view details

2.Castle of Chambord

castle of chambord

The royal Chateau de Chambord is one of the most recognizable castles in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King Francis I of France.
Chambord is the largest castle in the Loire Valley; it was built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francis I, who maintained his royal residences at the chateaux of Blois and Amboise. The original design of the Chateau de Chambord is attributed, though with some doubt, to Domenico da Cortona; Leonardo da Vinci may also have been involved.... view details

1.Castle of Pierrefonds

castle of pierrefonds

The Chateau de Pierrefonds is a castle situated on the southeast edge of the Forest of Compiegne, north east of Paris, between Villers-Cotterets and Compiegne.
In the 12th century, a castle was built on this site. Two centuries later, in 1392, King Charles VI turned the County of Valois (of which Pierrefonds was part) into a Duchy and gave it to his brother Louis, Duke of Orleans. From 1393 to his death in 1407, the latter had the castle totally rebuilt.
The chateau was taken down in the 17th century and was in ruins when Napoleon III decided to commission architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc to rebuild it. He applied his architectural designs to create the ideal chateau, such as would have existed in the Middle Ages.
The Castle of Pierrefonds has ...... view details

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