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Famous Castles in Paris and Surroundings
France has some of the world’s most beautiful castles, and they are a must-visit for people interested in French history and heritage.
Visitors to the French capital won’t have to go far to visit stunning castles since there are several castles near Paris that make great day trips. From medieval ruins to royal palaces or hunting residences, these castles around Paris come in various styles and repairs. But the one thing they have in common is that they’re all awesome places to see.
Here’s our pick of the best castles in Paris and surroundings, and if you are planning a trip to Paris you should visit at least one!
TIP: The entrance to most of these Paris castles is included in the Paris Museum Pass and other Paris tourist passes. For more information, check this Paris Pass Comparison with the best tourist cards for Paris.
Map of Castles Near Paris
If you are looking for world-famous castles near Paris, then visit Château de Versailles, the royal residence of the French Kings until the French Revolution.
Château de Versailles was built in the 17th century as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII. King Louis XIV (his son) decided to move his court from his Paris castle to Versailles, as he considered Paris too dangerous for him and his family. King Louis XIV and his successors turned that modest lodge into a jewel of French Baroque architecture and the main seat of power in France.
The Versailles Gardens are as amazing as the château itself. These French-style gardens are beautifully decorated with elaborated fountains, water games, and grooves. The impressive 5.57 km wide Grand Canal was the object of naval battles by the King and his court.
The Versailles Estate also includes a beautiful forest and the Trianons with the Queen’s farm where Queen Marie-Antoinette liked to play the peasant.
Self-Guided Day Trip to Château de Versailles
If you want to visit Versailles on a self-guided day trip from Paris, be sure to plan everything in advance. Versailles is one of the most popular day trips from Paris, and the palace always sees long lines. If you don’t want to spend half of your day waiting in line, check out our top Versailles skip the line tips and book your Versailles tickets online in advance.
By Train: direct trains leave from Paris to Versailles Chantiers or Versailles Rive Droite train stations (40 min every 20 min). Once you arrive at Versailles, it’s a short walk to the château.
By Bike: Versailles by bike is a fun way to explore the grounds of the royal palace. Whether you have your own bike or need to rent one, we tell you how to explore Versailles by bike.
Versailles with a Guided Tour
Guided tours are the best way to get the most out of Versailles. Guided tours are conducted by professional English-speaking guides who will explain everything you want to know about Versailles and the French Kings.
Visit Versailles Palace and Gardens, with or without the Trianons, on a small-group guided tour. The tours proposed below include transportation to /from Paris and skip-the-line tickets.
Château de Vincennes is one of the few examples of medieval castles in Paris. Royal residence from the 12th century to the 18th century, Château de Vincennes stands proudly at the city’s entrance.
Château de Vincennes is a true medieval fortress with its walls, towers, and the highest dungeon in Europe (more than 50 meters high!). Just like in the old times, this beautiful castle in Paris is surrounded by a deep pit of 7 meters, and the access is through a stone pontoon.
Inside, visit the courtyard, climb up to the top of the keep, and admire the 16th-century Holy Chapel, with a similar design to the Sainte Chapelle in Paris.
Self-Guided Day Trip to Château de Vincennes
By Metro. A half-day or day trip to Château de Vincennes is super easy to organize. Take the Parisian Metro, line 1, and stop at Château de Vincennes, located at the foot of the château.
Just outside this Paris castle, there’s the Parc Floral and the Bois de Vincennes, perfect for a stroll, games, or a picnic on the grass after the visit.
Château de Vincennes Guided Tour
For those who like to push the research a little further, the castle has audio guides in different languages.
Also, the staff at the chateau offers an interesting and free guided tour in French (45 min). The visit starts at 10.30 am and at 2.30 pm, and it is a good introduction to the history of this castle in Paris and its main highlights.
Château de Chantilly is another of the famous castles around Paris. Château de Chantilly was the home of the Princes of Condé, cousins of the King of France. This castle near Paris is not a royal residence, but it hosted kings and queens, attired by its beauty and the owner’s lavish parties.
A château dominates the town of Chantilly since medieval times, but the castle that you can see today is from the 19th century. The Château of Chantilly has a spectacular setting, located at the center of a small pond and surrounded by beautiful gardens. There’s also the Great Stables to visit, and the ticket includes the horse Museum and an incredible horse show under the building’s spectacular dome.
Like many other French châteaux, Château of Chantilly is a succession of beautiful rooms and halls, each more impressive than the last. The most interesting rooms in this castle are the library and the Grande Galérie. This long room hosts the second largest collection of artwork in France, only beaten by the Louvre artwork. Paintings and sculptures are displayed exactly like the castle’s last owner showed them to his guests.
Self-Guided Day Trip to Château de Chantilly
By Train: direct trains leave from Paris Gare du Nord to Chantilly-Gouvieux train station (30 min, hourly). From there, it’s a pleasant walk to the château.
The ticket Domaine de Chantilly gives you skip-the-line access to the Château, park, and the Great Stables.
Château de Chantilly Guided Tour
This Château de Chantilly full-day guided tour with a transfer visits the Great Stables and the Château with its beautiful gardens. The tour includes a horse show and a multi-course gourmet lunch with regional specialties.
Château de Malmaison is one of the most beautiful castles in Paris of its style. Château de Malmaison is located in the commune of Rueil Malmaison, and it is most commonly known as the former residence of Napoleon I and his wife, Joséphine.
When the couple bought this château, it was an old house of the 17th century. The extensive renovation works by architects Percier and Fontaine (1800 to 1802) turned Château de Malmaison into a luxurious Paris castle with all the fashions of the 19th century.
Don’t miss Napoleon and Josephine’s bedrooms with the original beds, the council room shaped like a military tent, and the library.
The garden is another of Malmaison’s highlights. Very fond of botanic, the Empress brought her personal touch in the castle’s garden, adding several various exotic plants, classic statues, and more.
Self-Guided Day Trip to Château de Malmaison
By RER /Metro /Train + Bus: take the metro (line 1), train, or RER A to La Défense. From there, take bus # 258 and stop at Le Chateau (a 25-minute ride). Cross the RN13 road and go back to the roundabout. The castle is at 300m, on the right.
Château de Pierrefonds is one of the most fascinating castles near Paris to visit. Château de Pierrefonds is a fortified castle with eight medieval towers and a sumptuous interior decoration located close to the forest of Compiègne, in the region of Hauts-de-France.
This fairytale castle outside Paris was built in the 15th century by Louis of Orleans. Like Château de Fontainebleau, Pierrefonds’ construction went through different periods until it was dismantled by the order of King Louis XIII.
In the 19th century, the emperor Napoleon III decided to rebuild Château de Pierrefonds to make it an imperial residence. To do so, he hired the architect Viollet-le-Duc who apart from a work of restoration, added a bit of his fantasy.
Self-Guided Day Trip to Château de Pierrefonds
The visit to this impressive fortress makes a great day trip from Paris, ideally by car. After the visit, you can explore the beautiful forest of Compiègne or the Château de Compiègne (another imperial residence).
By Train + Bus: from Paris Gare du Nord, take a TER train to Compiègne train station (52 minutes, hourly). At the exit of the train station, take bus #21 and stop at station Pierrefonds – Marine. From there, you need to walk 4 minutes to reach the château.
Château de Fontainebleau is one of the best castles near Paris for its architecture and history. The forest of Fontainebleau was the French Kings’ favorite hunting place, and they built a magnificent castle to get the most out of it.
For seven centuries, this castle hosted all the royal and imperial families of the time, which earned him the remarkable nickname of ‘true home of the French Kings.’
We can find the origin of this awesome castle outside Paris back in the 12th century. Its construction spans nearly 8 centuries and presents several different styles (medieval, renaissance, classical), and its more than 1,500 rooms and halls are grand and magnificent!
After visiting the castle, don’t miss the beautiful gardens around. The gardens’ highlight is the Grand Parterre, the largest formal garden in Europe and King Louis XIV’s greatest architectural achievement in Fontainebleau.
Self-Guided Day Trip to Château de Fontainebleau
By Train + Shuttle Bus: direct trains leave from Paris Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon train station (40 min every 20 min). Once you arrive at Fontainebleau train station, there is a bus shuttle waiting outside to the château (12 min ride).
Fontainebleau with a Guided Tour
This Fontainebleau half-day guided tour avoids the transportation hassle and it is especially interesting for those who are short of time because it leaves half-day free for exploring other corners of Paris.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is one of the best castles around Paris to visit and also one of the most romantic. It was built in the 17th century by Nicolas Fouquet, Chief Minister to the young King Louis XIV.
For his new home, M. Fouquet hired the best professionals of his time: Louis Le Vau (architect), Charles Le Brun (painter), and André Le Notre (landscape gardener), who executed the entire project jointly. The result was the amazing and lavish French château that we can still see today, surrounded by spectacular French-style gardens.
One of the most beautiful castles in France, Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is well known for its fairy-tale animations. Vaux-le-Vicomte is also a great place to visit if you are in Paris at Christmas time: the Christmas lights decorating the Château are spectacular!
Self-Guided Day Trip to Château de Vaux-le- Vicomte
By Train + Shuttle. Take the train at Paris Gare de l’Est, line P, to Verneuil l’Etang train station. At the train station exit, there is a shuttle bus to the château (1 hr ride in total).
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte with a Guided Tour
This full-day tour Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte + Château de Fontainebleau with transportation on a minivan visits two of the most beautiful Paris castles, and it comes with a knowledgeable English-speaking guide.
Also, Vaux-le-Vicomte is well-known for its Christmas tours. With Christmas just around the corner, Vaux-le-Vicomte is at its fairy-tale best, with festive decorations, a glittering Christmas tree, and tables heaped with seasonal treats.
Château de Marly
Château de Marly is another of the royal castles near Paris. This small château located in the commune of Marly-le-Roi was the weekend residence of King Louis XIV, more intimate than Versailles and far from the court etiquette. Only a few people had the honor to be the King’s guests in Marly, and they were appointed directly by the King a few days before the departure.
The château was destroyed during the French Revolution, and today there’s not much left apart from the foundations. However, the park surrounding the château has been restored with its waterways, lawns, and sculptures, so it is still a beautiful half-day trip from Paris.
The famous Marly Horses that you can see today at Louvre Museum, were located at the entrance of the Château.
Self-Guided Day Trip to Château de Marly
By Train: from Paris Saint Lazare train station take the train line L and stop at Marly-le-Roi train station. From there, it’s just a 10-minute walk. The entrace to the park with the remains of Château de Marly is free.
Château de Monte Cristo
Château de Montecristo, located not far from Château de Marly, is one of the most picturesque Paris castles. It was built by the famous French writer Alexandre Dumas in 1844 after the success of his work The Three Musketeers.
The Château de Montecristo consists of a compact building in Renaissance style and with entirely carved facades. The chàteau is surrounded by an English-style garden adorned with caves, waterfalls, and grooves. For his study, the author asked his architect for a Gothic pavilion surrounded by water.
This magical place comes from the fantasy of the writer, and it is now a historical monument. While visiting the different rooms of the castle, one almost finds the festive atmosphere of the lavish banquets regularly organized by the famous writer.
Self-Guided Day Trip to Château de Montecristo
By RER + Bus: take the RER A direction Saint Germain en Laye, until the last stop. There, take the bus #10 direction to ‘Les Lampes.’ Stop at Avenue Kennedy and take the first street on the right, the Chemin des Montferrand. Follow the pedestrian path; it is a 5-minute walk to the château.
Château de La Roche-Guyon
Château de La Roche-Guyon is one of the most intriguing castles near Paris. It was built in the 12th century at the summit of a steep promontory to control the Seine river crossing, and one of the routes to and from Normandy. In the mid-13th century, a fortified manor house (the château-bas or lower château) was added.
Over the centuries, the château changed family-owners many times, and it was also renovated and extended. The last major renovation happened in the 18th century when the eastern rampart was pierced to add a baroque monumental entrance.
The visit to the Château de La Roche-Guyon provides an incredible journey back in time. Apart from the 12th-century medieval château and keep, there is a troglodyte chapel and some bunkers built by the Germans during the Second World War. The town itself is worth the trip: La Roche Guyon is one of the most beautiful small towns near Paris and the only town in the Ile-de-France region with the label ‘Most beautiful villages in France.’
Self-Guided Day Trip to La Roche-Guyon
The best way to visit this castle is by car, perhaps combining La Roche- Guyon with a visit to Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny.
By Train+ Bus: public transportation to La Roche Guyon is scarce, but nothing is impossible!
Take the train from Paris Saint Lazare Station to Gare de Bonnières (47 min, every 4 hours). The next step is to take a bus from Gare Routière Bonnières to Petit Pont station (9 min, every 4 hours). Check out the train schedule and all the public transportation options here.
And there you have it, the list of best castles near Paris and our top tips to visit them. Which of our favorite Paris castles have you visited?