France is a country I can’t help but be in awe at.
Their countryside is beautiful, their weather is surprisingly pleasant, the architecture there is second to none, and the food is simply out of this world.
I like to consider myself quite the cultured individual, and as any cultured individual will know, France is a destination that has culture by the bucketload. As I write this, my mind is racing with ideas of where in France I’d like to visit next.
As you know by now, history is something that I am very interested in, and I simply cannot get enough castles in my life at the moment, which brings me to today’s article.
If like me, you enjoy a day out at a nice castle, this is the article for you as below, I will now be looking at se7en of the most beautiful castles in France.
The first castle that I have for you today, is the beautiful Carcasonne. I was fortunate enough to visit this place when I was living in Barcelona and I can’t recommend it enough!
Situated atop a hill, it is more than just your standard run-of-the-mill castle. Carcassonne is a historical gem, in the form of an amazingly preserved medieval castle and town in the Languedoc region of the country.
It was actually a location that played a key role in the Albigensian Crusade back in the 13th century as it was attacked by a crusader army, on the orders of the pope of all people.
Nowadays, things are much more civilised and the castle itself makes for a wonderful day out.
Palais des Papes, Avignon
Next up, we’re going to Avignon, to the Palais des Papes in the beautiful south of France.
Now, this castle is very special, not just in France, but in all of Europe, and dare I say, the entire world. This is because it is a site that considered to be one of the most vital structures located in all of Europe.
The site of a former convent, construction of the castle began back in 1252 and played a key role in the world of religion well into the 14th century.
Not only is it an important building, it’s also one of the biggest gothic buildings in Europe, complete with hidden chambers located within its walls.
Up next I have another personal favourite, the brilliant Mont Saint-Michael.
Located around 600-metres from the coast of Normandy, on a small island no less, Mont Saint-Michael was designed to be an impenetrable fortress, and that it most certainly was.
In the 9th century, it was used as an abbey that soon found itself being a popular destination for Christian Pilgrimages, though because of its island location, it was used as a prison, like an olden days Alcatraz.
Now, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of France, attracting over 3 million tourists annually, from all over the globe, so it can get busy in peak season.
In this article, you can learn how to get there and see some more pictures of this stunning castle.
Chateau de Chambord
Next up, I present to you the largest castle in the Loire Valley, Chateau de Chambord.
In an absolutely amazing setting, complete with forests deeming with wildlife, it is the perfect rural setting for those of you who are looking to enjoy a little rest and relaxation as you enjoy your castle visit.
The estate on which the castle is situated is vast, and interestingly, it was actually built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francis I.
Rumour has it that the castle itself was designed thanks to inspiration from sketches from none other then Da Vinci, and if you see it in the flesh, you can definitely see where that rumour comes from, though it is not verified.
The exterior is something to marvel at, but inside, unlike many castles nowadays, the interior is just as impressive, if not more so. You can certainly see the Italian influences, including a double helix staircase, which is every bit as grand as it sounds.
Palace of Versailles
If there’s one castle on my list today that you’ve heard of, it is likely to be the Palace of Versailles. Yes, I know this is not technically a castle, but how could I not include it here?
Having played a key role in countless world events of significant importance over the centuries, Versailles is a destination you simply must visit if you’re anywhere near Paris.
Again, like my previous offering, this too was once a hunting lodge (those French monarchs sure loved to hunt, didn’t they?) though this destination rose to fame as the seat of power for the monarchy during the reign of Louis XIV.
Louis was somewhat of a narcissist, and as a result, the interior of the palace would be considered by many to be a shrine for the king.
Those with an interest in military history will be interested in the Hall of Mirrors, which was the site where the Franco-Prussian War and the First World War, were both formally concluded.
Now I’m going to take you, as if by magic, to the land of wine, Bordeaux.
Specifically, I’m taking you to Roquetaillade, in the Bordeaux region, which was constructed over 1,200 years ago, at least, its very early fortifications were.
The castle as you can see it today, though, is hugely different to how it was, because back in the 19th century, it underwent quite the transformation.
Legendary Gothic revivalist Eugene Viollet-le-Duc oversaw an intense restoration of the castle in the 19th century, transforming it into a very similar spectacle to what we see today. Back in 1956, the castle was opened up to the general public and that was that.
It is now hugely popular, although interestingly, the same family has owned the castle for over 7 centuries now, and I think that’s great.
Chateaux de Joux
Last, but by no means least, I have the visually impressive Chateaux de Joux.
This was initially a castle constructed in the 11th century that was made from wood of all things.
Now, castles were designed to be impenetrable and to offer protection and being made from wood, it could quite easily have been set on fire. Because of this, in the year 1454, it was transformed into a fort before being used as a prison for several hundred years between the 17th and 19th centuries.
If you visit today, you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful museum of arms, which contains many weapons and implements of war, so, military historians, take note.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see the rest of the castles from this list! Until we’ll be able to do just that, let’s patiently wait for the end of the lockdown and plan our wanderings.