The French castles include some of the most beautiful castles that you will find anywhere in the world, and complementing these castles are some of the planet's finest palaces. It's truly a country that caters to architecture enthusiasts thanks to these structures, and if you're a history buff, too, then all the better. Avid gardeners or those who enjoy beautiful outdoor spaces will also find the palaces and castles in France to be of great interest, as ornate gardens are often found on the grounds, and should you be looking for a stunning venue for an upcoming castle wedding, it is interesting to consider that some of the country's castles are equipped to host such functions. Imagine getting married with an immaculate edifice such as the Chateau de Challain serving as the backdrop. It's the stuff that fairy tales are made of.
Chateau is the French word for castle, and it's a word that is used often. This is because there are many spectacular castles spread out across the beautiful French countryside, and they are easily among the top attractions in the land. Many of the most famous French castles call the central Loire Valley home, so this is a region that you will especially want to keep in mind when looking for chateaux (plural for castle) to tour. Among the most famous chateaux that are found in the lovely Loire Valley is the Chateau de Chenonceau. Built in the early 1500s, this immaculate castle actually straddles the Cher River, thanks to stone vaults, and it is quite a sight to see. After you gaze in astonishment at the exterior, you can go inside and view things like the bedroom of Diane de Poitiers and the wonderful stained-glass windows that are found in the chapel.
There are so many beautiful French castles in the Loire Valley that it's hard to decide where to go next. Much like Chateau de Chenonceau, the Azay le Rideau Castle mesmerizes with its river-side setting, and it is certainly not to be missed while in the area. As is true of many French medieval castles, this chateau on the Indre River got a makeover during the Renaissance era, and the result is a structure that is both imposing and beautiful. Chateau Azay le Rideau was actually one of the first buildings in France to get the French Renaissance treatment.
As for other famous French castles that can be found in the Loire Valley, Chateau Chinon, Chateau Amboise, and Chateau Loches figure among the lot. This valley is a castle lover's dream, and it has everything to do with the fact that French kings found favor with the region for many years. Of course, it isn't the only part of France that you will want to focus on when trying to find interesting and beautiful castles to admire. Take the Ile de France region, for example. This is where you will find Chateau de Chantilly, not to mention the immaculate Palace of Versailles.
Chateau de Chantilly calls a forested area near Paris home, and as is typical of many castles in France, it has been revamped on more than one occasion since construction began in the late 1300s. The palace that you will see today actually occupies the site of the original castle, and it was ordered to be built by Anne de Montmorency, who was a French constable in the 1500s. The gardens at Chateau de Chantilly inspired the gardens that were created at Versailles, and it's also interesting to consider that housed inside the structure is a fantastic museum. This museum is known as the Conde Museum, and among other things, it features paintings, drawings, and engravings, the likes of which total in the thousands. Many compare the museum's collection to that of the Louvre, which should give you an idea of the overall quality.
No visit to the Paris area would arguably be complete without a stop at Versailles. This immaculate castle is the most renowned palace in the world, and many also consider it to be the most amazing. Learning more about the story of its construction is reason enough to visit the Palace of Versailles and it is a real treat to explore the extensive gardens when you're not touring the palace itself. As far as the history of the Palace of Versailles is concerned, among the most interesting facts is that its immense cost helped to spur on the French Revolution.
Also not to be missed when it comes to the palaces and castles in France is the Palais de Fontainebleau, or the Fontainebleau Palace. Work on this sprawling estate began in the sixteenth century, and many French monarchs added their touches over the centuries. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fountainebleau Palace is surrounded by a forest that was formerly a royal hunting park, and so dazzling is the castle complex, that Napoleon declared it to be his favorite castle in all of France. This was actually the site where the famous leader bade farewell to the troops of his Old Guard before going into exile. The year of this major event was 1814. Napoleon eventually returned to France so that historic events such as the Battle of Waterloo could be carried out.