France is home to some of the most fascinating modern architecture examples. Buildings like Louis Vuitton Foundation, The Louvre Pyramid, and Seine Musicale represent the architectural transition of the country. However, a look at some of the most impressive castles in France might make them look second-class.
One night, Bishop Aubert sees Archangel Michael in his dream who tells the Bishop to build an oratory on an island. Although Aubert dismisses the dream initially, he begins to build the oratory sometime later in 708 AD. After the construction, the 92-meter-tall oratory gives the whole island a new name.
The tidal island of Mont Sain-Michel became a pilgrimage destination for thousands of people. Moreover, it inspired Joan of Arc to go and fight for France when it survived an English invasion in the 15th century. Surely, the island holds a special place in French history. Since 1979, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Château de Chambord
Chambord is the largest chateau in the Loire Valley. Its construction started in 1519 and lasted until 1547. It was originally a hunting lodge for Francis I who was the king of France for 32 years. Chambord is one of the most impressive castles in France as it is a prime example of French Renaissance architecture.
Aside from its height, the chateau is really huge. It has 426 rooms, 83 staircases, and 282 fireplaces. In addition, its garden has 600 trees and 800 shrubs. While tourists can only visit 60 rooms, there are more than 4000 art objects on display for everyone to see.
Château de Fontainebleau
Chateau de Fontainebleau is one of the oldest castles in France. It dates back to the 12th century and it takes its name from a fountain nearby. The chateau served as a royal palace for more than 700 years for a line of kings. Today, the chateau is a heritage site and a museum.
Since it is one of the oldest castles around, there are different architectural styles mixing together. Different kings from different eras, especially from the 16th to the 19th centuries, left their own imprints on the castle. Aside from being a palace, the chateau was a military headquarters for the Nazis and then NATO.
Chateau de Pierrefonds
Pierrefonds is in the Hauts-de-France region and dates back to the 14th century. Originally, it was a defensive medieval castle that turned into a manor owned by a marquis named François Annibal d’Estrées. However, all changed when Louis XIII became the king.
Louis invaded the castle and nearly destroyed it in the 17th century. For 200 years, the castle remained a ruin until Napoleon I bought it. Napoleon began to renovate the castle which became a romantic ruin. The renovation did not end until Napoleon III hired Viollet-le-Duc, the famous French architect.
Château de Chenonceau
Chenonceau Castle is one of the most impressive castles in France as it is a transitional piece between Gothic and Renaissance architecture. It was built in the early 16th century on the shores of River Cher and had many different owners. Some of the owners had to give up the castle due to their debts.
The castle has another name: The Ladies Castle. This is because of the influential women who changed the castle’s appearance in different ways. While the castle was in good condition for 400 years, during WW2, an Allied bombardment destroyed it. However, right after the war, the renovations began.