10 best palaces and castles in Paris and its suburbs
Just imagine: Paris is over 2300 years old! During most of this time it was the capital of a prosperous state. In Paris and the surrounding area you can see palaces, castles and even medieval fortresses. We’ll tell you about the most interesting of them in this article.
The famous Palace of the Kings of France! Versailles is not only the palace itself, but also the gardens, the Queen’s Farm, the Grand Trianon and the stables. Especially worth seeing are the King and Queen Apartments, Mirror Gallery and Palace Theater. In summer, the gardens of Versailles have a light and music show with the fountains.
To visit Versailles, you should take the RER C in direction of Versailles to the Rive Gauche station. It is best to buy tickets to Versailles in advance.
Vincennes is a real medieval castle, one of the oldest castles in all of France! It served as the king’s residence in the 14th century, and then as a prison. Famous prisoners held at Vincennes include the Marquis de Sade, Henry IV while he was not yet a king, and the philosopher Diderot.
Vincennes is a wonderful place for all adventure lovers: it’s a medieval castle with loopholes, a moat and a suspension bridge. There are even real cells with preserved inscriptions of prisoners on the walls. For those who are particularly interested, the cell of the Marquis de Sade has also been preserved.
It’s easy to get to Vincennes Castle: just take the 1st subway line and go to Chateau de Vincennes station. Book tickets here. After visiting the castle, you can take a walk in the Vincennes Parc.
Castle in the Louvre
The Louvre itself is a palace of French kings! The main building was built over 200 years ago, and it was necessary to demolish the medieval castle and donjon to build the Square Court. Their remains were discovered during the construction of the pyramid. They were restored and became a part of the museum’s exhibits.
Now it’s quite easy to imagine the medieval Louvre! It is also worth paying attention to the Royal Hall from the time of Louis XI.
Metro station: Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre. Tickets to Louvre should be purchased in advance.
» See more – get in quickly and avoid the lines
This is the oldest and most famous castle and palace of French kings. It is located on the island of Cité, where the whole of Paris originates. In fact, the Conciergerie is the remains of the Palace of Cité, the royal residence from the 10th to 14th centuries.
The authorities have never left Cité. Now the Ministry of Justice and the Prefecture are located there. The Conciergerie castle served as a prison during the French Revolution. Here, Queen Marie Antoinette, the Girondines and Maximillian Robespierre languished while waiting for the guillotine.
When you visit you can see a large hall that will help you imagine the grandeur of the Cité Palace, and the restored prison cells that illustrate the horrors of the French Reign of Terror.
The Conciergerie is located in the heart of Paris, so it is easy to reach. Go to metro station Cité (4 lines), either on foot from Notre Dame or from Paris City Hall. You can book a ticket to Conciergerie or combined pass for castle and Sainte Chapelle.
» READ MORE – Sainte Chapelle in Paris
This royal castle is interesting because it was the favorite residence of Napoleon I. Fontainebleau is still the residence of the French president and is therefore well-maintained.
Be sure to see the swirling staircase, Napoleon’s throne, his bedroom and bathroom, as well as the wonderful gardens.
To get to Fontainebleau, take a train to the Gare de Fontainebleau-Avon at Lyon Station in Paris. The trip from Gare de Fontainebleau-Avon to the palace is about 30 minutes on foot, or you can take the local AB bus.
It is much easier and more comfortable to go to Fontainebleau with a bus tour. You can find an offer here.
» See more – A guide for visiting the Loire castles in France
This palace was built in the 17th century by Superintendent Nicolas Fouquet. It is said that the incredible beauty of Vaux-le-Vicomte shocked young Louis XIV so much that he arrested Foucault, imprisoned him in the Bastille, and took all his property with the palace.
To get to the Vaux-le-Vicomte estate, you need to take a train to Melun town at Lyon station. From the station you can catch ChateauBus, which goes directly to the castle. Or you can choose a 1-day bus tour that includes both Fontainebleau and Vaux-le-Vicomte: book it here.
This is a medieval castle with a donjon and all the classic Middle Ages defensive architecture. Pierrefonds is also known as the Castle of Puss in Boots. Of course the Puss in Boots has never actually been there. On the other hand, they are shooting scenes for the series Merlin at the castle as a stand-in for Camelot.
Getting to the Castle of Pierrefonds from Paris is a two-part trip. First, take the train from the North Station to the town of Compiegne. From there, transfer to bus number 27.
Chantilly or Сonde Palace
The current chateau de Chantilly was built in the 19th century. During the reconstruction, architects’ drawings from the 16th century were used, but the exterior decoration of the palace can safely be attributed to the style of beaux-arts. Inside, the palace is also very interesting, both for its interiors and the works of Raphael housed there.
Despite its more modern appearance, the history of the chateau is rooted in ancient times. Pay attention to the Small Castle, whose original 16th century stylings have been preserved, since it survived the French Revolution, which destroyed the central building.
You can reach the Chateau de Chantilly from the North Station in Paris. Take the train to the town of the same name. From the station you can walk (it’ll take about 30 minutes) or take a local bus.
This palace belonged to Josephine Bogarne, Napoleon’s wife. The palace itself was built in the 17th century, and it’s been restored with the atmosphere of the Consulate and the First Empire, the period when Napoleon ruled France.
To get to the estate, take bus 258, which runs from La Defence. You’ll need the La Jonchere stop.
The “Sun King” Louis XIV was born in this magnificent castle in the suburb of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. However, he did not like his father’s palace and built himself Versailles. Since then, the castle was frankly unlucky. The exiled king of England lived in it, and an unsuccessful count-owner destroyed and sold the estate. Napoleon even housed a cavalry school in it.
Finally, Napoleon III ordered the palace restored and placed the National Archaeological Museum in it.
It’s easy to get from Paris to St. Germain-en-Laye. Take the RER A, and in 40 minutes you will be at the station Gare Saint-Germain-en-Laye. You can reach the castle on foot in just a few minutes.
Have a fascinating journey through the castles!
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