We think of France, we think of chateaux; with summer just around the corner we put together a definitive list of the top 50 most visitor friendly chateaux in France, so wherever you are you can get a bit of chateaux love.

Northern France

  1. Château de Gisors – Located in Gisors, Eure, this 11th-century fortress has historical ties to the Templars and offers an intriguing visit.
  2. Château Gaillard – Overlooking Les Andelys and the River Seine, this medieval castle was built by Richard the Lionheart in 1196, and offers stunning views.
  3. Château de Bizy – In Vernon, known for its Gobelin tapestries and items from the Bonaparte family, visits are only available through guided tours.
  4. Castle of La Roche-Guyon – This 12th-century castle offers rich history and beautiful views, located in La Roche-Guyon.
  5. Château de Chantilly – Located in Chantilly, this historic château is a popular day-trip destination from Paris and features two distinct buildings.
  6. Caen Castle – A landmark in Caen, built by William the Conqueror in 1060, it has museums and cafes within its extensive grounds.
  7. Castle of Coucy – In Picardy, this 13th-century castle is known for having the largest keep in Europe, surrounded by beautiful countryside.
  8. Castle of Sedan – This 15th-century château in Sedan offers a museum and is partially a private hotel, providing a unique experience.
  9. Castle of Pierrefonds – Near Pierrefonds, this fairy-tale-like castle has origins in the 12th century and offers fast track tickets for visitors.
  10. Château de Vincennes – A massive castle near Paris in Vincennes, known for its historical significance and architectural grandeur.

Eastern France

  1. Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg: A restored medieval fortress offering panoramic views of the Alsace region.
  2. Château des Baux-de-Provence: Features ruins from a tumultuous history and a digital art center in Val d’Enfer.
  3. Château de Villandry: Known for its remarkable gardens, including a decorative vegetable garden in Renaissance style.
  4. Château du Clos Vougeot: In the heart of Burgundy’s vineyards, it offers wine tastings and showcases the history of Burgundy wines.
  5. Château de Chantilly: Features French style gardens designed by André Le Nôtre and houses the Condé museum with an exceptional collection of paintings.
  6. Château Gaillard: Offers views over the Seine and inspired Impressionist painters with its natural beauty.
  7. Château de Carcassonne: A fortress within a fortress, showcasing 12th-century military architecture and Romanesque frescoes.
  8. Château d’Abbadia: An Irish neo-Gothic building with a unique interior and an observatory, located on the Basque coast.
  9. Château de Grignan: Offers contemporary Provencal living alongside Renaissance history, with lavender fields and vineyards.
  10. Château de Chenonceau: Built over the River Cher, it’s accessible by bike or canoe, offering a unique visit experience.

Western France

  1. Château de Langoirau offers impressive views of the Garonne valley and historical significance with its chapel frescos and the largest circular donjon in France.
  2. Château des Milandes, famous as Josephine Baker’s former residence, showcases Renaissance style with Gothic touches and beautiful gardens.
  3. Château de Castelnaud, a medieval fortress with commanding views of the Dordogne River, houses a Museum of Medieval Warfare.
  4. Château de Roquetaillade, known for its sumptuous interiors and medieval architecture, remains a family residence with six round towers.
  5. Château de Beynac, perched above the Dordogne River, offers stunning views and has been beautifully restored.
  6. Maison Forte de Reignac, the only intact cliff château in France, features rooms carved deep into the stone and offers a glimpse into medieval times.
  7. Château de Commarque served as a defensive outpost and home to a fortified village between the 12th and 14th centuries.
  8. Château de Boussac, a literary favorite visited by George Sand, offers tours of its kitchens, Aubusson tapestries, and eclectic collections.
  9. Château Guiraud in Sauternes, known for its organic and biodynamic wines, invites visitors to explore its vineyards and gardens.
  10. Château de la Malartrie, although not open for tours, can be rented out for a unique stay in the Dordogne Valley, providing an exclusive experience of living in a château.

South of France

  1. Château de la Napoule (near Nice): A 14th-century castle restored by Henry and Marie Clews, now a cultural center with stunning gardens.
  2. Château de Tarascon (Tarascon): A 15th-century Gothic castle on the Rhone’s banks, serving as the René d’Anjou Art Center with historic graffiti engravings.
  3. Château des Baux de Provence (Provence): A fortified castle offering panoramic views, castle ruins, and replicas of huge siege engines.
  4. Château de Gordes (Gordes): An 11th-century castle, rebuilt in the early 16th century, now a museum showcasing art exhibitions.
  5. Château de Foix (Ariège): A medieval castle that played a significant role in military history, now housing the Ariège départemental museum.
  6. Château de Val (Lanobre): A 13th-century castle on an artificial lake, known for its fairy-tale architecture and unique towers.
  7. Château de Roquetaillade (Gironde): A 13th-century castle, restored by Viollet-le-Duc, featuring interior decorations listed as French Heritage.
  8. Château Comtal (Carcassonne): Located within the Cité de Carcassonne, this medieval castle serves as a museum showcasing the city’s history.
  9. Château de Sommières: A 10th-century fortress with a restored castle and chapel, originally built by the house of Bermond.
  10. Château de Flaugergues (Montpellier): A country house with a staircase occupying a quarter of the home, Flemish tapestries, and an English-style garden.

Central France

  1. Château de Chambord: The emblem of the French Renaissance, commissioned by King François I and linked to Leonardo da Vinci’s genius. It offers impressive architecture and a vast forested park.
  2. Château d’Azay-le-Rideau: Set on an island on the Indre River, this château boasts a unique floating appearance and Renaissance elegance, with a recently restored interior.
  3. Château de Cheverny: Known for its extensive estate, authentic period rooms, and unique dog kennels, still owned by its noble family and open to the public since 1922.
  4. Château de Chenonceau: Spanning the River Cher, this château is renowned for its gardens and the roles of the six Queens and influential women associated with its history.
  5. Château d’Amboise: Offers spectacular views over the Loire river, with a small chapel where Leonardo Da Vinci is buried, reflecting the château’s rich history and architectural marvels.
  6. Château de Villandry: Famous for its Renaissance architecture and beautiful gardens, it was the last castle built during the Renaissance period in the Loire Valley.
  7. Château de Pierrefonds: A fairy-tale château with a rich history, located in Pierrefonds, offering an excellent day trip option from Paris with its late Medieval/Early Renaissance architecture.
  8. Castle of Carcassonne: A medieval fortress within the Cité de Carcassonne, offering a deep dive into the medieval era with its museum and historical architecture.
  9. Châteaux de Lastours: An ensemble of four medieval castles located in Lastours, offering a glimpse into the Cathar Country with its strategic defensive structures.
  10. Château de Tarascon: A 15th-century Gothic castle located on the banks of the Rhone, serving as a museum showcasing art exhibitions along with historical graffiti engravings.
Nick Garnett
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I've been travelling since the 70's and have visited over 30 countries, but, and it's a big but, my heart has always been in the French countryside. So much so that 15 years ago, my wife Charlotte and I bought a little hamlet house in central France and haven't been anywhere since, except for the odd trip to the Polish steppes (don't ask why, it's complicated). FiftyFrance is an expression of our deep and abiding love for France and her people.

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