Are you a history, architecture, and art enthusiast? Do you want to follow in the footsteps of the kings of France? Take a step back in time and come with us to discover some of the most beautiful castles near Paris.
1. Château de Versailles
This World Heritage Site needs no introduction. The Palace of Versailles is a must-see during a stay in Paris. Residence of the Kings of France from the 17th century, some of the most renowned figures of French history have lived there: Louis XIV, the Sun King (le Roi Soleil), Marie-Antoinette, Louis XVI. There are so many things to learn about the French royalty, so for a better experience, we recommend you to get a guide. And don’t forget to book a time slot online, mandatory for all.
After exploring the palace and taking the inevitable photo souvenir in The Hall of Mirrors, the visit goes on with a walk in the 815 hectares of gardens. The day will not be over before having a look at the Trianon, the residence of Marie-Antoinette where she used to escape for more intimate moments. Finally, during spring and summertime, you can enjoy the Musical Gardens, a musical walk through the gardens, and the Great Musical Waters, a water show to the rhythm of baroque music.
Château de Versailles: https://en.chateauversailles.fr
2. Château de Fontainebleau
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Château de Fontainbleau was home to 34 kings and 2 emperors. Fontainebleau forest being greatly appreciated for hunting by the royal family, the hunting lodge soon became one of the most sumptuous castles of France. Its architecture presents a few different styles: medieval, renaissance, and classical. Between the palace itself, the sumptuous gardens, the park, the chapel, and the art galleries, you will have a very full day exploring the place. Music has always been a part of the Château de Fontainbleau. From jazz to classical music, Paris Toujours will let you know the events schedule, so don’t hesitate to contact us to help organize your visit.
3. Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a must for discovering the art of French gardens. It was built by the superintendent of finance of Louis XIV, Nicolas Fouquet. He surrounded himself with three of the greatest artists of his time: the architect Louis Le Vau, the painter Charles Le Brun, and the landscape gardener André Le Nôtre. The result of their work even inspired
Louis XIV for the castle of Versailles. Candlelight evenings are often organized during summertime: 2000 candles illuminating the castle, gourmet dinner, macarons, and fireworks. You can even rent a period costume to walk around the castle. Is there a better way to immerse yourself in the 17th century?
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte: https://vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/
4. Château de Rambouillet
Medieval fortress at first, the Château de Rambouillet was slowly turned into a more stylish residence. It was home not only to kings, queens, and emperors (Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, Napoléon Ier) but also to former French presidents, as Charles de Gaulle and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. The castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens, which you can visit by renting bicycles or even a boat. A must-see during the visit is the Queen’s Dairy, built in 1785 by Louis XVI for Marie-Antoinette, a neo-classical pavilion that translates the pastoral style popular at this time.
Château de Rambouillet: https://www.chateau-rambouillet.fr/en/
5. Château de Breteuil
The Château de Breteuil is perfect for children. Throughout the visit are presented wax sculptures, made by the Grevin museum, introducing scenes of the daily life of the Breteuil family through different periods of time. But that is not all. Live-size displays of tales by the famous French author, Charles Perrault, such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or Little Red Riding Hood, will also amaze young and old alike.
Château de Breteuil: https://www.breteuil.fr/en/
6. Château de Champs-sur-Marne
Less known than the other castles on this list, the Château de Champs-sur-Marne was built in 1703. It is a symbol of the 18th-century leisure houses and French “art de vivre” (the art of living), with rococo decors and chinoiseries. Among many others, the movie Marie-Antoinette by Sofia Coppola (2006) was shot there, even if Marie-Antoinette never stayed in this castle. The castle is surrounded by 85 hectares of greenery, with beautiful French and English gardens.
Château de Champs-sur-Marne: http://www.chateau-champs-sur-marne.fr/en/
7. Château de Chantilly
Home to cousins of kings of France, the Château de Chantilly offers many surprises. Built in a Renaissance style, its architecture is a delight for the eyes. It is also well-known for its painting galleries, bringing together the second largest collection of old paintings in France, after that of the Louvre Museum. But what really makes Chantilly unique are the Grandes Ecuries, one of the largest stables in Europe. At the Horse Museum, you will learn more about the relationship between men and horses through works of art and equestrian equipment. Equestrian demonstrations, included in the entrance fee, are planned throughout the day. Horse riding events and shows (extra show ticker needed) are also often organized. If you are interested in those shows, Paris Toujours will help you prepare for your visit.
Château de Chantilly: https://chateaudechantilly.fr/en/
8. Château de Vincennes
The medieval fortified castle of Château de Vincennes was at first a hunting lodge in the forest of Vincennes but quickly became home to the royal family from the 12th to the 18th century. From the 15th century, it was also used as a prison: Fouquet, Diderot and Mirabeau were kept there. After the 18th century, it was turned into the largest casern in Paris, set to protect the capital city. By entering the castle through the stone pontoon going above the deep pit, you will really feel like stepping into the medieval period. During your visit, you shouldn’t miss the Sainte-Chapelle, a beautiful religious structure, and the dungeon, one of the highest in Europe.
Château de Vincennes: http://www.chateau-de-vincennes.fr/en/
So, are you ready to dive into French history and go on a castle tour? Our travel advisors will be happy to assist you in this journey by creating a custom-made itinerary. Contact Paris Toujours to start organizing your trip. To see some more suggestions of castles and attractions in France, visit our partner’s website here.