The “Chateau de France”, is the symbol of the splendidness of the French history. From Versailles to Castelnaud, passing by the “Chateaux of the Loire Valley”, the rich and fantastic culture of castle may sometimes make us confused when it comes to visit a chateau de France. So, this article is aiming to help you to have a clear vision of the chateau de France, in order to help you further to choose the best ones to visit.
Castles of the Loire Valley
In France, when we talk about the castles, the first thing that really comes to mind is the “Chateaux of the Loire Valley”. During the hundred years war, the French kings and the English kings opposed each other, and each one of them possessed of a bank of the Loire. Theses kings of different nationalities did the construction of several palaces and military fortresses that eventually became, especially during the Renaissance, the magnificent chateau de France.
The Loire Valley is located in the west of the France, about an hour and a half from Paris (one hour and twenty minutes by train, and one hour fifty by car). The region is reputed for its natural landscape, cultural heritage and the castles which are very worth a visit. If you are passionate about the chateau de France, this place cannot be missed. Not only the famous castles like Chambord, Chenonceau, Amboise, Blois, Azay-le-rideau etc., you can also visit the little-famous ones such as Talcy, Menars, Abbaye de la Guiche, Chemery etc. If I write a list of the castles at this point, it will be long and tedious, I would suggest you buy and read a backpacker guide to get a more complete knowing about the Chateaux of the Loire Valley before your visit.
Castles in the Paris region
The world-famous chateau de France in the Paris region (in the department Île-de-France) is also unavoidable for a visit, like the Palace of Versailles, the Palace of Fontainebleau, the Vincennes Castle and so on.
The Palace of the Versailles is the most visited one among all the chateau de France, was constructed from 1661 to 1715, by King Louis XIV, in order to appease the rebellion and strengthen his kingship. The palace became since then, a very significant symbol of the greatness of France, which have been attracting people from all over the world to come and look at it with reverence.
It is worth mentioning that, the chateau de France in the Paris region usually merges with the stories of French kings. For example, the Vaux le Vicomte Castle, located in the south-east of Paris, its background story is as fantastic as its look. Its builder, Nicolas Fouquet, was the superintendent of finance, imprisoned because of the manipulation of his colleague on the charge of corruption. And his Castle, Vaux le Vicomte, was then sealed and the king Louis XIV seized almost all his property. Also, the king Louis XIV used the Vaux le Vicomte Castle as the model for the design of the Palace of Versailles.
The chateau de France in the Paris region are all accessible by public transport, and it takes generally from 20 minutes to less than 1 hour by train. If you don’t have the availability to visit the castles which are outside the Paris region, the castles inside the Paris region are easy to reach and worth to visit, besides, don’t forget to get to know the stories behind these majestic castles.
The Castles outside the Paris region
The most famous chateau de France outside the Paris region and the Loire Valley must be the Chateau de Castelnaud, which is in the town of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, in Dordogne department. It is a magnificent medieval fortress, offering you an amazing panorama of the Dordogne valley. Classified as historical monument, this fort is entirely dedicated to the great era of the Middle Ages. The fortress shelters a huge number of weapons and armor. The models, the furniture, the machines of war, as well as the numerous restorations of the fort, make of it a museum of war more real than nature. The castle counts more than 200 000 visitors a year.
Other chateau de France that I suggest you to visit are :
Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg in the Alsace region (Key words: medieval, furniture, weapon, rocky spur)
Chateau des ducs de Bretagne in Nantes (Key words: Nantes history, Bretagne history, museum, Gothic-Renaissance)
Chateau de Valençay in the Commune of Valençay, the Indre department (Key words: French garden, English park, Renaissance, elegance, art)
Peyrepertuse, in the Commune of Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse, the Aude department (Key words: ruined fortress, Cathar castles, rocky spur)