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10 of the most beautiful châteaux in France

most beautiful chateaux in France

If you grew up daydreaming of living in a beautiful French castle, or if you currently spend your downtime binge-watching the incredibly soothing Escape to the Château, then we’ve got good news for you. We’ve rounded up a list of the best and most beautiful châteaux in France! Classical French architecture, gorgeous gardens and fairytale magic is waiting for you in these beautiful spots…

1. Château de Fontainebleau

This is one of the largest French royal châteaux and definitely deserves a place on your itinerary. The Palace of Fontainebleau dates back to the 12th century, though it was renovated in the Italian and French Renaissance style by Francis I and his architect Gilles le Breton in the 15th century. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, the château is now a tourist hot spot with more than 1,500 rooms, gorgeous artworks and several stunning gardens to explore. The château was home to many leaders of France, including Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Napoleon I, making it a must-visit destination for history buffs.

2. Château de Cruix

How could we create this list and not include Contiki’s own château? You’re right, we simply couldn’t. Because how cool is it that, after a day of adventures in Fontainebleau, you can rest your weary head in a castle in Beaujolais. The breathtaking 16th-century château has been home to many Contiki travellers since 1977 and was recently renovated with love and great care. Staying here will give you serious fairy-tale vibes.

Contiki Château de Cruix

Image source:Contiki

3. Château de Chenonceau

Nestled in the greenery of the Loire Valley, the Château de Chenonceau is a unique place, with the building jutting out above the River Cher in spectacular design. The château is also a part of salacious French history. The castle was once home to King Henri II, his wife Catherine de Medici and mistress Diane de Poitiers. Yep, the trio awkwardly co-existed here at times, with Diane being responsible for the beautification of the now-incredible palace. We know, 16th-century royal reality TV shows would have been award-worthy.

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4. Château de Chambord

Built during the 16th century at the request of King Francis I, Chambord is another Loire Valley palace worth checking out. It’s the largest château in the region, boasting 426 rooms, more than 282 fireplaces, an impressive double spiral staircase in the centre of the palace and 13,000 acres of surrounding parkland. The French Renaissance-style château took an incredible 28 years to build and is definitely worth adding to your itinerary.

5. Château de Couches

Smaller than those châteaux built or renovated in the Renaissance, the Château de Couches is a medieval fortress just outside the town of Beaune. Home to many Dukes and the famous Marguerite of Burgundy, the historical site retains many of its original rooms and features, including the dungeon, tower of justice, cellars and gothic chapel. The historic design makes Couches one of the best châteaux in France to visit.


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6. Château de Versailles

Is Versailles a quaint little château? No, it’s an enormous and famously luxurious palace just outside of Paris. But with grandiose decorations, extravagant rooms and meticulously designed gardens it’s still one of the most beautiful châteaux to visit in France. From more modest beginnings under Louis XIII, to glamorous – and costly – renovations by Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette, the châteaux glittering halls are steeped in history.

7. Château du Clos Lucé

This stunning pink-brick and freestone château sits in Amboise in the Loire Valley. It was once the home of the French king Charles VIII, princess Marguerite de Navarre and Leonardo da Vinci, with the grounds being transformed into an open-air museum for the latter. Visitors can see da Vinci’s inventions, including the water mill, two-level bridge and assault chariot, along with learning about his work and inspirations. Inside, the rooms retain their historical artefacts and charm.


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8. Château de Pierrefonds

Pierrefonds is a 14th-century castle that fell to ruins in the 17th century, before being rebuilt by Napoleon III and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century. As such, the palace showcases a blend of Gothic, Renaissance and Art Nouveau design, reflecting the many inhabitants and renovations seen over the years.


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9. Château de Hautefort

Ever wanted to pretend to be Danielle de Barbarac in the movie Ever After? Same! At Château de Hautefort you can give it your best shot. After all, this historical site was the setting of Crown Prince Henry’s castle in the film. Hautefort is a former medieval fortress, renovated in the 17th century to update the interior styles and add a French formal garden (which is considered to be among the prettiest in France).


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10. Château de Chantilly

A short drive outside of Paris, the historic French château of Chantilly is world-famous for its art galleries, with collections curated by the Duke of Aumale. Seriously, he had the second largest collection of antique paintings in France outside of the Louvre. Along with the spectacular artworks, the château has more than eight centuries of history to uncover, beautiful gardens to explore and the Great Stables (which are basically just a separate, smaller palace for horses).

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