French castles differ from those of the UK as while most British fortresses resemble imposing structures of doom, the castles of France often look as if they were plucked from the pages of a fairy-tale. If this is the kind of thing you’re into you’ll be well and truly spoilt for choice – even with the shortest of holidays in France there’s always time to take in the sights of one or two historic treasures.
So to help narrow the field a little, here’s a quick rundown of 10 genuinely unmissable castles in France:
One of France’s most visited castles and an iconic feature of the Loire Valley, the Chateau d’Angers features an incredible 17 watchtowers and is currently the home of the stunning Tapestry of the Apocalypse.
Palais des Papes
Widely regarded as one of Europe’s most important medieval structures and undoubtedly one of the most striking, the Palais des Papes was formerly the home of the head of the Catholic Church during the famous Roman rebellion.
Undoubtedly one of Normandy’s most incredible sights, the Château Gaillard lies in the city of Les Andelys and dates back to the late 12th century. Though mostly in ruins, the castle’s supremely strong outer walls have remained intact throughout the centuries.
Chateau de Vincennes
One of the most well-known entries to the list is of course the Chateau de Vincennes, which is a favourite among day-trippers from Paris. A gift from Napoleon to Paris, both the Chateau and Bois de Vincennes are truly magnificent.
Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg
Nestled in the Vosges Mountains in a strategic position, the Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg has been taken over and captured more times over the centuries than a dozen run-of-the-mill castles. As a tourist attraction, the Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg attracts over half a million visitors per year.
Cite de Carcassonne
The Cite de Carcassonne is less a castle in the traditional sense and more something of a fortified town. Historic, stunning and with a rich history that’s just begging to be dived into, it’s an absolute must for anyone visiting the Carcassonne region in France’s south.
Chateau de Loches
A stunning feature of the Loire Vally, the Chateau de Loches is perched majestically on the banks of the Indre River and was a favourite among French and English royalty alike.
Chateau de Vitre
The Château de Vitré can be found in the town of Vitré in Brittany and has been an outstandingly beautiful landmark for close to a thousand years. Incredible, it was once purchased back in the 1820 for just 8, 500 French Francs.
Chateau de Fougeres
The Château de Fougères is a well-known and well-loved landmark of Rennes, not to mention a pretty perfect illustration of what makes Brittany beautiful. It is also one of the largest fortresses of its kind in the continent.
Chateau de Saumur
Last but not least, a firm contender for the title of France’s most beautiful castle, the stunning and striking Chateau de Saumur started life as a fortress and would eventually go on to be converted into a fairy-tale castle from a child’s dream.