There are hundreds of castles in France, many of which have remains dating back to the Middle Ages. Which are the best to see? Here is our list of the top 10 medieval castles in France – ones that have retained its appearance from the Middle Ages. We could probably make two or three more lists of beautiful medieval castles from France, but we think these are among the best to visit.
1. Château de Carcassonne
In the heart of the medieval walled-city of Carcassonne, the Count’s Castle was first built in the 12th century, and extended in the following two centuries. While the entire city is worthy of exploration for a medievalist, the castle is a fortress within a fortress and offers a variety of towers and buildings to see.
2. Château de Foix
Located near the border with Spain, this castle has been standing for over a thousand years. The various towers in Château de Foix date between the 11th and 15th centuries.
3. Château de Castelnaud
Located along the Dordogne River in southern France, Château de Castelnaud was built to defend against its nearby rival Château de Beynac. This 13th century castle is also home to a museum on medieval warfare. Château de Beynac, only a short drive or walk away, is also an impressive medieval castle.
4. Château de Josselin
Located in Brittany, the was first built in the 11th century and then had large-scale changes in the 15th. After following into ruins, the castle was restored in the mid-19th century and now even has a doll and toy museum inside it.
5. Château de Falaise
The present castle was built by England’s King Henry I in 1123 – Falaise has long been one of the most important fortresses in Normandy and the scene of many important political and military events.
6. Château d’Angers
The Counts of Anjou first built a castle on this site in the 9th century. By the 13th century it was expanded to its present form, which includes its thick walls and seventeen massive towers. Although it was severely damaged in the Second World War, Château d’Angers has been restored and is home to a museum of medieval tapestries.
7. Château de Saumur
Located in western France, Château de Saumur was originally built in the 10th century, and then rebuilt by Henry II of England in the later 12th century. The picture on the left was drawn around 1410 – much of it is the same over 500 years later.
8. Château de Suscinio
Located near the west coast of France, Château de Suscinio was built by the Dukes of Brittany in the 13th and 14th centuries. It is surrounded by a moat.
9. Château de Tarascon
Also known as the Château du Roi Rene, this castle can be found in the southeastern corner of France. After the previous castle was destroyed in 1399, René d’Anjou had a new castle built here in the first half of the 15th century.
10. Château de Vitré
Located in northwest France, this fortress was one of the first castles in France to be classified as an official historical monument by the French government in the 19th century. The castle retains the look of how it was in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Visitor information for these French castles
Château de Carcassonne – http://carcassonne.monuments-nationaux.fr/
Château de Foix – http://www.grands-sites-ariege.fr/en/
Château de Castelnaud – http://www.castelnaud.com/uk/
Château de Josselin – http://www.chateaujosselin.com/en/
Château de Falaise – http://www.chateau-guillaume-leconquerant.fr/index_uk.php
Château d’Angers – http://angers.monuments-nationaux.fr/
Château de Saumur – http://www.chateau-saumur.com/
Château de Suscinio – http://www.suscinio.info/
Château de Tarascon – http://chateau.tarascon.fr/
Château de Vitré – http://www.ot-vitre.fr/