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Famous French Castles Near Paris
France has some of the most beautiful castles in the world, and they are a must-visit for all who are interested in French history and heritage.
Visitors to the French capital won’t have to go far to visit famous French castles since there are several French castles near Paris that make great day trips from Paris. From medieval ruins to royal palaces or hunting residences, these castles around Paris come in a variety of styles and repair. 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 near Paris, and if you are planning a trip to Paris you should visit at least one! These French castles and palaces around Paris are all a 2-hours ride (or less) from Paris.
TIP: The entrance to most of these castles near Paris is included in the Paris Museum Pass and other Paris Tourist Passes. For more information, check this Paris Pass Comparison and our Paris Museum Pass review.
If you are looking for beautiful palaces near Paris, then head to Château de Versailles, the French Kings’ residence, from King Louis XIV to King Louis XVI.
Versailles Palace was built in the 17th century as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII. It was King Louis XIV (his son) who decided to move his court from his palaces in Paris to Versailles, as he considered the city 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 palace itself. These French-style gardens are beautifully decorated with fountains, water games, and grooves. Due to the long distance from the Seine river, the Versailles fountains were fed thanks to an ingenious machine that pumped the water from the river. The impressive 5.57 km wide Grand Canal was the object of naval battles by the King and his court.
Today the Versailles Estate spreads over 800 hectares. It includes the Château de Versailles, the gardens, a beautiful forest, the Palaces of Trianon and the Queen’s farm.
How to visit Versailles on your own
If you want to visit this wonderful castle near Paris on your own, it is important to plan your trip well. Buying Versailles skip-the-line tickets online in advance is also an excellent idea for visiting Versailles because the lines to visit the Palace are always very long!
By Train: there are many direct trains traveling from Paris to Versailles for a journey of 40 minutes. From there, it’s a short walk to the Château.
By Bike: Versailles by bike is a fun way to explore the grounds of Versailles. Whether you have your own bike or you need to rent one, we tell you how to explore Versailles by bike.
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 to you everything you want to know about Versailles and its hosts.
Visit Versailles Palace and Gardens, with or without the Trianons and Marie-Antoinette’s farm, on a small-group guided tour. The tours proposed below include transportation to /from Paris and skip-the-line tickets.
Amongst the best castles near Paris there is Château de Fontainebleau. Fontainebleau was during many centuries the Kings of France’s favorite hunting place and they built a magnificent castle to get the most out of Fontainebleau.
The origin of this awesome château near Paris can be found back in the 12th century. Its construction spans nearly 8 centuries and presents several different styles (medieval, renaissance, classical) for the joy of architecture lovers. Also, this palace has hosted, without interruption for 7 centuries, all the royal and imperial families of the time, which earned him the remarkable nickname of “true home of the Kings”.
Château de Fontainebleau is one of the most famous castles in France and the eternal rival of Versailles Palace. Its more than 1500 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 at Fontainebleau.
How to visit Château de Fontainebleau on your own
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 reach the château (12 min ride).
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 Chantilly is another of the famous French castles near 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 parties.
The town of Chantilly, France, is dominated by a château 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 and ponds. There’s also the Great Stables to visit, with the horse Museum and an incredible horse-show under the spectacular dome included with the ticket.
Like many other French châteaux, Château of Chantilly is a succession of beautiful rooms and halls, each one more impressive than the last. The most interesting rooms in this castle are the library and the Grande Galérie. This long room hosts today 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, Henri d’Orléans, show them to his guests.
How to visit Château de Chantilly on your own
By Train: there are direct trains from Paris Gare du Nord to Chantilly-Gouvieux train station (30 min, hourly). From there, it’s a pleasant walk to the Château.
This full-day guided tour with transfer of Château de Chantilly takes you to visit the Great Stables and the Château with its beautiful gardens. The tour includes a horse show and a multi-course gourmet lunch of regional specialties.
Château de Malmaison is one of the most beautiful palaces near 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, the emperor of France from 1804 to 1814, and his wife Joséphine de Beauharnais.
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 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 garden of the castle, adding a number of various exotic plants, classic statues and more.
How to visit Château de Malmaison on your own
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 (25 minute-ride). Cross the RN13 road and go back to the roundabout. The castle is at 300m, on the right.
Château de Vincennes
Château de Vincennes is one of the few examples of medieval castles near Paris. Royal residence from the 12th century to the 18th century, the Château de Vincennes stands proudly at the entrance of the city.
This castle 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 French château near Paris is surrounded by a deep pit of 7 meters, and it can be entered only by stone pontoons recalling the medieval aspect of the castle.
Inside, visit the courtyard, and the Pavilions of the King and the Queen, climb up to the top of the dungeon (good shape advised) and admire the 16th century stained glass windows of the chapel.
Just outside the Château, there’s the Parc Floral and the Bois de Vincennes, perfect for walks, games, or a picnic on the grass with all the family.
How to visit Château de Vincennes on your own
By Metro. Visiting the Château de Vincennes on your own is so easy. You just need to take the Parisian Metro, line 1! The closest metro station is Château de Vincennes and it is located at the foot of the Château.
Best Tour of Château de Vincennes
For those who like to push the research a little further, the Castle proposes audio guides in different languages for self-guided tours.
Château de Vaux le Vicomte
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is one of the best castles near 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 jointly the entire project. 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!
How to visit Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte on your own
By Train + Shuttle. Take the train at Paris Gare de l’Est, line P, in the direction of Provins to Verneuil l’Etang train station. At the train station exit, there is a “Châteaubus” shuttle to the Château (1 hr ride in total).
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is the perfect plan for a romantic day out of Paris. This romantic tour with transportation from Paris proposes a candlelit evening at the 17th-century château, with a luxury 3-course dinner at the on-site restaurant.
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 was 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. This palace was more intimate than Versailles and far from the court etiquette, that’s why the King appreciated so much his stays in Marly. 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.
Today, there’s not much left of Marly, apart from a few remains of the palace’s foundations. The château was totally destroyed during the French Revolution but the park surrounding the château has been restored with its waterways and lawns. This does not sound very encouraging but only the visit to the park and the remains, with informative panels, is well worth a 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.
How to visit Château de Marly on your own
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.
Château de Pierrefonds
Château de Pierrefonds is one of the most interesting castles outside Paris to visit. Château de Pierrefonds is a fortified castle located close to the forest of Compiègne, in the region of Hauts-de-France. This fairytale castle near Paris was built in the 15th century by Louis of Orleans. Like Château de Fontainebleau, Pierrefonds’ construction has gone through different periods until it was dismantled by 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.
The visit to this impressive fortress, with eight medieval towers and sumptuous decoration, makes a great day trip from Paris. After the visit, we recommend exploring the beautiful forest of Compiègne or – if Château de Pierrefonds was not enough – the Château de Compiègne and it’s garden, located at the north of the forest.
How to visit Château de Pierrefonds on your own
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 just need to walk 4 minutes to reach the Château.
Château de La Roche-Guyon
The 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 a river crossing of the Seine, and one of the routes to and from Normandy. In the mid-13th century, a fortified manor house (the château-bas) was added below.
Over the centuries, the Château changed family-owners different 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.
A 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 also the bunkers built by the Germans during the Second World War. The castle also was Rommel’s headquarters during World War II. After D-Day, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (1891–1944) defended Normandy against the Allies from a bunker located here.
How to visit Château de La Roche-Guyon on your own
By Train+ Bus: this is one of the most complicated castles close to Paris to visit by public transportation 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 trains schedule and all the public transportation options here
The best way to visit this castle is on a day trip by car, perhaps combining La Roche- Guyon with a visit to Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny.
Château de Monte Cristo
Château de Montecristo is one of the most picturesque châteaux near Paris 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 monumental banquets regularly organized by the famous writer.
How to visit Château de Montecristo on your own
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.
And there you have it, the list of best castles near Paris and how to visit them. What are your favorite châteaux near Paris?