The 10 most beautiful castles in France

Experience the history and splendour of France by visiting the most beautiful castles. From the enchanting Mont Saint-Michel to the majestic Palace of Versailles - each castle has its own story. Travel comfortably by train through the beautiful French countryside and discover these architectural gems.
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1. Mont Saint-Michel, Avranches

Mont Saint-Michel is perhaps France's most famous castle. Together with the Eiffel Tower and Versailles Castle, it is one of the country's most visited attractions. This fairy-tale castle was known for its unique location, which could only be reached on foot at low tide. Today, there is a narrow bridge and a shuttle service to the island, allowing you to visit it all day.

Take the train to 'Pontorson-Mont-St-Michel' station. From there, take a shuttle bus to the castle, which is within walking distance of the station. Your adventure begins the moment you see Mont Saint-Michel looming.

Best time for a visit: Spring and autumn, to avoid the crowds and enjoy mild temperatures.
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2. Palace of Versailles, Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is located about 20 kilometres from Paris. It is one of the largest castlesovering an area of about 10 square kilometres. Built in 1624 as a hunting lodge, the palace was quickly enlarged and expanded, soon giving it the appearance of a palace. Hence the name 'Palace of Versailles'. Versailles played an important role in many historical events in France.

Not only the inside of the palace, but also the beautiful gardens are really worth visiting. The castle is easy to reach by train. It is about a 25-minute walk from Versailles-Chantiers station.

Best time for a visit: Spring and summer, when the gardens are in full bloom.

3. Citadel of Carcassonne, Carcassonne

The citadel of Carcassonne is an undeniable icon. This medieval fortress is one of the largest and best-preserved in the world. Around the 18th century, the citadel was in danger of being demolished, but a local historian saved it from destruction. It was then uniquely restored, although some modifications, such as the drawbridge, are not original.

Interesting fact: there is a board game named after the citadel. A travel edition is also available. So, you can play the game while travelling by train to Carcassonne.
Travel by train to Carcassonne station, and from there, it is about a 30-minute walk to the citadel.

Best time for a visit: Spring and early autumn, to avoid the summer heat and tourist rush.

4. Chateau of Chambord, Chambord

With 440 rooms, 365 towers and 1036 windows, surrounded by a 32-kilometre-long wall, this castle is huge. Despite its impressive size, the castle has had few permanent residents since its construction in 1519. It was located far from civilisation and was difficult to keep warm in winter. Several French monarchs were not keen on it either, so the castle soon decayed.

The castle was eventually refurbished several times and has been owned by the French government since 1932. During World War II, works of art from the Louvre, including the Mona Lisa, were safeguarded here.
This impressive castle can be reached by bus from Blois-Chambord station.

Best time for a visit: Spring and autumn, for pleasurable strolls through the extensive gardens.

5. Chateau of Fontainebleau, Fontainebleau

Fontainebleau Castle is one of the largest castles in France and has served as a residence for influential French kings and other nobles. Kings often chose Fontainebleau for its convenient location and the many game in the area to hunt. One of the main attractions is Napoleon's flat, which he furnished in 1804.
From the Fontainebleau-Avon train station, it is a 3/kilometre walk to the castle. The walk is well worth it as it passes through the beautiful gardens of the chateau.

Best time for a visit: Spring and summer, ideal for enjoying the castle gardens.

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6. Chateau of Vincennes, Vincennes

Vincennes Castle is just 20 minutes from the heart of Paris. It is one of the oldest castles in France. It was built around 1150 as a hunting lodge and the foundations of the present castle were laid around 1340. Famous for its impressive keep (donjon), the tallest in Europe, Vincennes Castle is well worth a visit.
To reach the castle by train, get off at Vincennes station. From there it is a 10-minute walk to the château. By metro it takes about 20 minutes, get off at 'Château de Vincennes'.

Best time for a visit: All year round, thanks to its proximity to Paris and good accessibility.

7. Chateau of Chenonceau, Chenonceaux

Chenonceau Castle is unique because it was built over the river Cher. The castle took its present form in the 15th century. Over the years it has had several owners and in 1940 it was hit by a flood from the Cher. The castle was restored in 1951. The long gallery overlooking the river and the beautiful gardens are well worth a visit.
The castle is easy to reach by train. It is a 5-minute walk from Chenonceaux station.

Best time for a visit: Spring and summer, to enjoy the gardens and the gallery overlooking the river.

8. Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, Orschwiller

You can spend hours wandering around the fairytale castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg and enjoy the beautiful views over the Rhine. The castle has recently been restored to its original splendour. The name of the castle comes from the time when this part of France was under Austrian rule. The Treaty of Versailles returned the castle to French hands.
An interesting fact about this castle is that there is a replica of it in Malaysia, just an hour's drive from the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Next to this replica, there is also a copy of the city of Colmar.
You can get off the train at Sélestat station and then take a bus to the château and get off in front of the gates. .

Best time for a visit: Autumn, for stunning views of colourful forests and mild temperatures.
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9. Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes

In the centre of Nantes, on the banks of the Loire, is the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. As its name suggests, this castle was the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Brittany. The castle was built in 1207 and renovated in 1466. After 15 years of thorough renovation, the castle was ceremonially reopened in 2007.
Highly recommended is the (short) walk around the castle. During this walk you will see both the city and the impressive castle.
Get off the train in the heart of the city and it is only a 10 minute walk to the castle.

Best time for a visit: Summer and autumn, when the city is lively and the weather pleasant.

10.Chateau of Maisons-Lafitte, Maisons-Lafitte

This castle is a must for lovers of baroque architecture. It was designed by the famous architect François Mansart, who is also known for the mansard roof, which has a characteristic roof shape. This castle still serves as a reference for French architecture.

Sold to the French state in 1905 to save it from demolition, the château dates back to 1630. It has been listed as a national monument since 1914.
The castle can be reached by train, getting off at Maisons-Laffitte station and walking for 10 minutes.

Best time for a visit: Spring and summer, to enjoy the beautiful architecture and surrounding gardens.
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