5 Best Castles in Ile-de-France

Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world. However, its region Île-de-France is not as well-known as most people assume that the region is just Paris its suburb, when actually there are forest and unique historical sites. The best example of this are the castles and parks of the region as they reflect the historical importance and richness of the region.

Without further ado, here are my most see castles and parks of Île-de-France:

The Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles is one of the most famous French palace which embodies the glory days of the kingdom of France. Built during the 17th century, it was the resident of the French kings until the French revolution. The park has 800 hectares of forest and gardens and was created by the famous royal gardener André Le Nôtre. The park stands out with its great canal and its beautiful fountains. If you are visiting Versailles in the summer be sure to stay for the fountains night show.


The castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte

If you are a fan of Versailles then Vaux-le-Vicomte is for you. This castle is actually what inspired the King Louis XIV to build the palace Versailles. The estate is nearly 500 hectares and is a great example of “French formal garden” based on symmetry and the principle of imposing order on nature. Vaux-le-Vicomte is also home to the carriage museum.


Fontainebleau Castle and Forest

This one is definitely my favourite. This castle has been marked by centuries of rolling densities. From the Capetian dynasty to Napoléon Bonaparte, every roller has left his mark on the castle, giving visitors a sense of what it was like to be the king at different point in time. I personally remember being fascinated as a child by the huge fishes in the artificial lake and exploring the beautiful forest of Fontainebleau that any hiker will appreciate.


The domain of Chantilly

This domain is a must see for every museum junky as it is home to the second biggest French collection of ancient paintings after the Louvre. Lovers of horse riding will also appreciate it, as it has the biggest stabiles of the world. Visitors can enjoy the museum of the horse and equestrian shows.

The park is a great example of the evolution of gardening styles, as it combines French formal style, English-chinses style from the 18th century and traditional English styles from the 19th century.

The domain of Chantilly

Malmaison & Parc Bois-Préau

Last but not least, this was the castle of Joséphine Bonaparte. It is well known for the empress’s collection roses of and rare exotic plants. Visitors passionate about the 1st Empire will enjoy the beautiful collection of Empire style furniture and objects. The castle also offers a series of family fun activities, perfect for every age.