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.
The Castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg was built in a strategic location, on a rocky promontory, high above the Upper Rhine valley at an altitude of more than 700 meters. This site was ideal for observing the main routes in the region and provided a great defensive position for the fortress.
The first castle, called Castrum Estuphin dates back to aprox. 1147. The fortress changed its name to Koenigsburg (which in German means "royal castle") about 10 years later. Successive powers used the castle from the Middle Ages until the Thirty Years' War.
After the castle was destroyed in 1462 in a siege let by a coalition of forces of the cities of Colmar, Strasbourg, and Basel, the Habsburg emperor Frederick III handed the ...... view details
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
Located on a steep hill in the deep Perigordian forest, the Castle of Puymartin draws visitors attention with its crenelated towers. With strong defensive walls and a substantial main building, it has still the appearance of a medieval castle despite the many changes that were made over the years.
The castle was built in the late 13th century and, like many of the castles in the region, it played a key role during the Hundred Years War, and later in the Wars of Religion. At the beginning of the Hundred Years War, it formed the border between France and England; as a result, it changed hands several times during the war between French and English. The castle was destroyed towards the end of ...... view details
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
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
The Chateau de Fougeres is an imposing fort, built on a naturally protected site, a rock emerging from a swamp surrounded by a loop of the Nancon river acting as a natural moat.
It had three different enclosures: the first for defensive purposes; the second for day to day usages in peacetime and for safety of the surrounding populations in times of siege; and the last for the protection of the keep. In all it has an impressive 13 towers.... view details
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
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
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
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
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