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14 Best Castles near Paris You Should Visit

Looking for the best castles near Paris to visit? This post will show you all the must-visit châteaux to fully immerse yourself in France’s history!

The city of Paris feels like a dreamscape, like a town out of a fairytale that is known globally for its vibrant culture, scrumptious desserts, and so much more. In fact, there are plenty of castles near Paris that make this dream seem like a reality.

Though not located in the city, these Paris castles are just a short trip away! You’ll get to immerse yourself in the rich history of the royals that resided in these castles, admire the art and architecture of these iconic structures, and learn more about them.

Château Comtal is one of the best castles near Paris
Château Comtal is one of the best castles near Paris

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While many castles have run their course as royal residences, they remain hotspots of French design, artistry, and grandeur.

Ready to walk into the footsteps of former royals? Keep scrolling to learn about the 14 best French castles near Paris, how to reach them, the places to explore, and so much more!

Before You Go, Here’s How to Plan Your Visit To Paris: Practical Quick Tips

WHERE TO STAY
Best Eiffel Tower Views: Hôtel Le Walt (9.0)
Luxury stay: Shangri-La Paris (9.2)
Mid-range stay: Hôtel Eiffel (8.7)
Budget Stay: People – Paris Bercy (8.9)
Apartment Rental: Résidence Charles Floquet (9.1)  

Psst… Before traveling to Paris or France in general, make sure that you have Travel Insurance! I always use World Nomads on all my trips and I am happy to recommend it to you. You can easily request a quote from World Nomads from here for FREE!

Stunning Castles Near Paris to Visit

1. Château de Chantilly

Chateau de Chantilly is one of the best Paris day trips

Located in the town of Chantilly, Château de Chantilly is one of the best castles near Paris!

It is home to the second most extensive collection of antique French art, following the Louvre, and has been preserved ever since Henri d’Orléans or the Duke of Aumale gifted it to the Institut de France in 1886.

About an hour’s drive away or a half an hour trip via train, this Renaissance-style castle will leave you in awe.

Besides the extensive art collection in Musée Condé, you’ll be able to tour the suites, browse through one of the vastest libraries in the country, and observe the horses that reside in the biggest stables of Europe.

After strolling in the expansive park which has various gardens ( from the French to English gardens) and walking the same halls as past French dignitaries, be sure to take a tour of the horse museum (included in this ticket) and even catch a horse show that takes place under the palace’s iconic 92-ft tall dome.

How to visit Château de Chantilly

How to get there: Take a train from Gare du Nord to “Chantilly-Gouvieux” and walk to the castle.

Tickets: I recommend buying this skip-the-line ticket in advance to avoid the long lines if you’re on a self-guided tour, but if you prefer going with a knowledgeable and friendly tour guide, this is the guided tour I recommend.

2. Château de Breteuil

Château De Breteuil is one of the best castles near Paris

Lionel Allorge, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most beautiful castles near Paris, France, Château de Breteuil, is located 22 miles southwest of Paris, and you can easily take a train or travel by car to get to it.

Built in the 17th century and inhabited by the Breteuil family since then, Château de Breteuil was declared a historical monument in 1973.

The area is now a well-known national natural park and is open to the public to admire its impressive architecture, beautifully designed gardens, and stunning overlooks.

To add to the magic, the palace is now a spot for some of the most famous fairytales and play reenactments (wax figures) such as Little Red Riding Hood, Thumbelina, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and many more.

With a magnificent palace such as this coupled with witnessing your bedtime stories come to life, at Château de Breteuil, you’re sure to feel the magic around you!

How to visit Château de Breteuil

How to get there: Take RER B to Saint-Rémy-Lès-Chevreuses, and then shuttle “BALADOBUS” to the castle.

Tickets: You can buy the tickets from the castle’s official website here.

Related post: Best Weekend getaways from Paris

3. Château de Fontainebleau

Fontainebleau is one of the cities near Paris

One of the most famous castles near Paris is Château de Fontainebleau, a paradise for nature lovers, history lovers, or even someone looking to spend a lovely day out of the city.

Believed to be one of the largest castles in France near Paris, the monument has remained standing for over eight centuries and was the official residence of the French monarchs from Louis VII to Napoleon III.

With nearly 1500 rooms, some of the most outstanding rooms in the castle not to miss include the Queen’s bedroom, Throne Room of Napoleon, Emperor’s bedroom, Pope’s apartment, and so many others.

Besides the impressive rooms, the castle has something for everyone from lush green gardens, iconic art museums, to the elegant horseshoe Staircase which is the face of the entire castle.

It is also known for hosting plenty of exciting and odd activities like carriage riding and for the adventurous at heart, you can book this hot-air balloon tour to fly over it.

But if you’d rather connect with nature, Fontainebleau forest is just a few minutes away if you feel like hiking.

An hour-long train ride away, this iconic and historically significant palace is one of the best day trips from Paris.

How to visit Château de Fontainebleau

How to get there: You can easily take a train from Gare de Lyon and take one headed to either Montargis, Montereau, or Laroche-Migennes, and drop off at the Fontainebleau-Avon station.

Tickets: This priority entrance ticket will help you skip the lines and you can buy an audio guide from the castle.

You can book this guided tour if you prefer having a real person but I believe the audio guide was well-done, so in my opinion, it’s enough! The only downside is that you can’t ask questions.

4. Palace of Versailles

Versailles is one of the towns near Paris

An iconic day trip from the city as is, you can’t visit Paris and not spend a day exploring the famous hallways of the Palace of Versailles.

This château near Paris, France, is one of the most visited tourist attractions globally because of its extreme historical importance, as it was the formal French royal residence.

First, Louis XIII built a hunting lodge on the gardens of Versailles, which was then converted into a château and expanded by Louis XIV, who adored the palace.

Once the French Revolution was underway, the castle was mostly deserted. Post that, it was used temporarily by Napoleon Bonaparte during his coup, and only years later was when the palace was restored.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, it is an oasis of French art, culture, history, and pride and definitely worth the short visit.

Some of the highlights of visiting the Palace of Versailles include exploring the royal stables, the residence of Marie-Antoinette, and the beautiful gardens dotted with water fountains and sculptures.

And if you visit during spring or summer, you’ll be treated to a dazzling fountain show in the gardens which will leave you in awe.

How to visit Versailles Palace

To get to Versaille, the easiest way is to take a train from either Gare Montparnasse, Gare Saint Lazare, or RER (Line C) train from various train stations. Of course, you can go by car as well.

If you’re visiting on your own, I recommend booking this skip-the-line ticket that comes with an audio guide to avoid the long queues at Versailles.

But if you want to learn more about the history of the castle, I suggest booking this Versailles guide tour that comes with a professional tour guide.

And if you want to visit the castle in style, you may want to consider this fun Versailles guided tour on a bike.

5. Château de Joux

Château de Joux is one of the best French castles near Paris

Photography taken by Christophe.Finot, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the unique Châteaux outside Paris is the Château de Joux, a palace constructed in the 11th century entirely out of wood.

This impressive structure sat atop a hill and was gradually converted into a defense fort (to which a moat and barracks were added) since it had so many vantage points.

Soon after, it was converted into a prison by the French royalty between the 17th and 19th centuries and allegedly housed Mirabeau, one of the most well-known contributors to the early French Revolution.

Since the end of the monarchy, the beautiful, historically-rich monument has been converted into an arms museum that houses nearly 600 rare arms.

The castle is open to visitors on Mondays only, so plan your visit accordingly. So, if you’re looking for a unique but well-chronicled monument, head to Château de Joux!

How to visit Château de Joux

How to get there: The best way to get to Château de Joux is by driving!

Tickets: Visiting the castle can only be done by guided tours and there is no booking required. Just show up at the castle and sign up for a guided tour.

Related post: Incredible things to do in Paris

6. Château de la Roche Courbon

Château de la Roche Courbon is one of the best castles outside of Paris

Groumfy69, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Suppose you’re searching for fairytale-Esque Paris castles; Château de la Roche Courbon is the place for you!

Built back in the 15th century by Jehan de Latour, Jean-Louis de Courbon and his family later acquired it in the 17th century.

As the French Revolution rolled around, the Château was soon abandoned as the upkeep was expensive.

Then, it was purchased in 1920 by Paul Chénereau, who restored the rooms, the gardens, and the exterior of the palace. The palace is still inhabited and owned by his descendants.

Besides the architectural beauty of the castle, the gardens are also spectacularly designed with lush greenery, fountains, a small lake (called a mirror pool), an iconic stairway, a moat (significant of its rich past), and other charming architectural elements that you’ll enjoy exploring.

How to visit Château de la Roche Courbon

How to get there: The easiest way is to take a fast train; T.G.V. Paris-Surgères or T.G.V. + T.E.R. Paris-Saintes to reach the castle.

Tickets: You can buy your ticket from the castle’s website here.

7. Château de Monte-Cristo

Château de Monte-Cristo is one of the best castles near Paris

Moonik, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located at Le Port-Marly in northern France, about an hour’s drive from the heart of Paris is Château de Monte-Cristo.

Built by Alexander Dumas, the famed author of the “Three Musketeers” in 1844, this is far from a grand, royal palace but instead is a haven for literary enthusiasts and those looking for a dreamscape outing.

The castle has a warm, charming atmosphere and holds regular banquets hosted in-house by Dumas.

You’ll also get a chance to immerse yourself in several literary events wherein characters from Dumas’ world of words come to life with exciting shows and comedy performances.

The beautifully designed castle also comes with a world-class English garden with fountains, waterfalls, and a gothic pavilion bordered by a body of water.

How to visit Château de Monte-Cristo

How to get there: Take Saint Nom la Bretèche train to Marly le Roi station from Saint Lazare train station. Then take the bus “10” towards “Les lampes” (avenue de l’Europe), and drop off at Avenue Kennedy.

Tickets: Tickets can be bought at the castle.

Related post: How to spend a weekend in Paris

8. Château de Vincennes

Château de Vincennes is one of the best French castles near Paris

Selbymay, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Home to the highest dungeon in Europe and only accessible via stone bridges, Château de Vincennes, is the epitome of medieval French design.

Until 1682, it was the preferred French residence for most French kings because of its impressive defensive architecture, geographical position, and intricate design.

After 1682, Louis XIV decided to pack up and move the royal residence to the gorgeous Palace of Versailles, leaving Château de Vincennes to become a prison.

Once Napoleon took over the monarchy, he converted the palace into a defense fort to protect Paris and the neighboring localities from invasions in the 19th century.

Today, the castle offers guided tours, several events, and exhibitions and is home to the historical services of the French armed forces. 

How to visit Château de Vincennes

How to get there: This is probably the easiest castle near Paris to access. Just take the metro line 1 (M1) direction Château de Vincennes or take RER A to Vincennes station.

Tickets: Buy this priority access ticket to skip the lines at the castle.

9. Château Comtal

Château Comtal is one of the best castles near Paris

Pinpin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most overlooked but iconic castles outside of Paris is in the heart of Carcassonne, a medieval city in the Occitanie region.

Built back in the 12th century, Château Comtal looks like a movie backdrop. Set in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Carcassonne, a fortified city between the France and Spain border, the monument enjoys a unique geographical position that caused it to be deserted due to the continued peace between the two countries.

In the 13th century, the castle played an important role during the Albigensian Crusade, as it was one of the most tolerant towns in terms of religious secularity causing it to be attacked by the Pope’s orders.

An impressive castle in the heart of one of the most incredible medieval cities near Paris, a visit to Château Comtal is worth the trip!

10. Château des Milandes

Château des Milandes is one of the best castles outside of Paris

Though you’re searching for castles in Paris, Château des Milandes is a landmark that you must make a trip to if you have the time while in France.

A manor house built in the late 15th century, the palace’s construction was overseen by Claude de Cadillac, wife of François de Caumont who commissioned its construction.

A gothic-style castle made intricately using only honeycomb stone, it’s truly a sight to see.

Though it dates back to the late 1400s, it is associated mostly with Josephine Baker, the American-French entertainer, activist, and mother of 12 adopted children whom she raised in the castle.

Baker bought the castle in 1947, and the monument dedicates its rooms to her work and life, which you’ll be able to learn more about on your visit!

11. Château de Chambord

Château de Chambord is one of the best castles outside of Paris

Located in the iconic Loire Valley, a well-frequented tourist summer spot, 2 hours from the city of Paris, is Château de Chambord, one of the best castles outside of Paris.

The largest castle in the valley, it was built in the 16th century and is adorned with a mix of typical French Renaissance architecture and gothic-medieval design.

It was built in proximity to the river and thereby having one of the most iconic moats of all palaces.

The design is said to have been inspired by the art style of Leonardo da Vinci and draws artistry from the work he produced during his time in Europe.

The château was used to store the artwork from the Louvre and Château de Compiègne for safekeeping during the horrific World War II.

A museum-style castle, you’ll get the opportunity to learn more about the castle’s history via an audio walk-through tour and admire all that the historic landmark offers.

How to visit Château de Chambord

How to get there: Take the train from Paris Austerlitz Train Station to Blois-Chambord, then either take the Castle’s shuttle (only between April and October) or a taxi to the castle.

Tickets: I recommend buying this skip-the-line ticket in advance to avoid the long lines if you prefer to visit on your own.

However, I believe that the best way to get the most out of your castle visit is by booking this guided tour with a knowledgeable tour guide.

12. Château de Pierrefonds

Château de Pierrefonds is one of the best castles near Paris

One of the most iconic castles near Paris is Château de Pierrefonds in Picardy in northern France.

Besides being one of the most impressive structures, the castle went through several exciting phases of history.

It was commissioned to be built by Duke Louis of Orléans in the late 14 century. Following this, it was demolished by Louis XIII and shortly after rebuilt after Napoléon III hired an architect to do so.

The castle has a very gothic-medieval appearance, which was one of the signature styles of any monuments erected in the Middle Ages.

On top of enjoying the architectural beauty of the castle, you can explore the forest of Compiègne by taking a tranquil stroll through it since the castle is not located far from it.

How to visit Château de Pierrefonds

How to get there: Take the train from Gare du Nord to “Compiègne”, then the bus “Oise Mobilité” to the castle.

Tickets: To avoid the long lines make sure that you buy this skip-the-line ticket in advance.

13. Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye is one of the best castles in Paris

While searching for palaces in Paris, you’ll inevitably come across Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a renaissance-style castle located 12 miles west of Paris.

It was a high enough fortress to protect the royal dignitaries from attacks, and it was also a favored summer residence for several French kings.

The castle is truly a design marvel with gothic architecture, tall glass windows, expansive descending terraces, cobblestone walkways, garden fountains, and so much more.

Today, it is home to the musée d’Archéologie Nationale, the Museum of National Archeology, which houses up to 3 million items that are a good mix of antiques, Celtic masterpieces, and art dating back to the middle ages.

14. Château de Malmaison

Château de Malmaison is one of the bet Paris castles

Zairon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located 9 miles from the center of Paris, Château de Malmaison is situated on the left bank of the Seine.

It used to be an old residence until the 17th century when it became the home of Napoleon I and his wife. That was the time this castle took its claim to fame.

Empress Joséphine Bonaparte, after moving in, hired world-renowned architects and designers to transform the monument into the iconic French palace it is today.

It is home to one of the most well-designed gardens in all of Europe with roses, fountains, classic statues, and so much more.

If you happen to visit, make sure to check out the palace’s library, the bedrooms with the antique beds, and everything else that the castle offers.

How to visit Château de Malmaison

How to get there: Take Metro line 1 (M1) to La Defence and then bus 258 and stop at “Le Château” bus stop. Alternatively, take RER A / Rueil-Malmaison station.


Final Thoughts on the Beautiful Castles Outside Paris

Amongst all its other attractions and monuments, there’s truly no dearth of castles near Paris.

Whether you’re looking for a smaller, charming château or a historically and politically important palace, you’ll find places beyond what you’re searching for.

The breathtaking French architecture combined with the rich history of past French royals makes these castles a must-visit while in Paris!

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