The grandiose of Paris isn't just in the city itself. It's also around it, nearby for all the world to see. If you thought that the French capital, and all its stunning buildings, impressive museums, iconic landmarks, and more are the peak of grandiosity, think again! As the saying goes, 'you ain't seen nothing yet!
' And this rings true especially to the magnificent châteaux near Paris. Just a couple of hours away by car or public transport and you'll get to marvel at the incredible manors and castles that all look like they come from a fairytale. Here are some that you mustn't miss when you venture beyond Paris!
Château de Breteuil
Enchanting doesn't even begin to describe Château de Breteuil. This 17th-century structure, which has served as the home for the prominent Marquises of Breteuil since then, is a fairytale castle come to life. It helps that the stunning mansion itself houses over 50 wax figures that depict the many fantastical fables penned by Château de Breteuil. See 'Puss n' Boots' in all his furry glory, the adorable 'Little Red Riding Hood' with her basket of goodies for grandma, and Prince Charming ready to wake 'Sleeping Beauty' with a kiss. These and the grandeur of the stately manor and its manicured gardens make for a great place to spend a free weekend with the entire family.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Neokeitaro
Château de Chantilly
Built all the way back in 1560, Château de Chantilly has long served as one of the go-to châteaux near Paris. It was built by the legendary Anne de Montmorency, an honorary Knight of The Garter and former Constable of France, and eventually became the residence of other Connétables de France in the succeeding centuries. Today, however, it serves as a monument to French history, with a wing that houses Musée Condé, one of the finest in Paris
. Thanks to its extensive collection of artworks, many regard it as the second-best art collection in Paris, right after the Louvre
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Jebulon
Château de Compiègne
Although most of these châteaus have preserved their original looks, the Château de Compiègne is not one of them. It was first built and used in the Middle Ages, mostly as a royal hunting ground for the French nobility at the time. Then, come the early 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte redesigned it as one of his residences during the Second Empire. to this day, the manor has retained its Neoclassical glory. The vast and wide architecture almost reminds one of the Regency, which was the style in the UK at the time. Arguably, Château de Compiègne can easily rival the British mansions
of yore any day!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Zairon
With its squarish symmetry, the Château d’Ecouen is definitely a man-made marvel. Another 15th-century structure built by Anne de Montmorency, the place reeks of Renaissance architecture that was the main style of that period. Just by its exterior, you can tell the sophisticated severity of the design, fitting for the historic figures that once roamed its halls. Nowadays, the château serves as the home of Musée National de la Renaissance, particularly famous for its gorgeous tapestries. Many of them decorate the vast halls of the manor, depicting either Biblical scenes or important moments in French history.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Zairon
Château de Fontainebleau
Just by its vast gilded gate, you can already tell just how grand the Château de Fontainebleau truly is! A glorious palace that has housed many prominent figures in French history, it's one of the most famous châteaus just outside Paris. It's definitely worth all the trouble of extensive public transport
outside of the French capital! Once you get inside, you'll get treated to opulent interiors, grand halls, stunning frescoes, and a royal art collection that once included the famous 'Mona Lisa' painting. Throughout the years, historic people like King Francois I, Catherine De Medici, and Napoleon Bonaparte have all walked these same halls. Wouldn't it be amazing if you followed in their footsteps too?
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Jacky Delville
Château de Maintenon
One of the humbler châteaus on this list, Château de Maintenon has a lovely story behind it. In 1965, Madame Maintenon, the second wife of King Louis XIV, bought this home with money that her husband have her. The structure itself had already been standing for a long time by then, so the monarch oversaw its many improvements for the sake of his dear wife. Eventually, Madame Maintenon grew to love the château and used it as her second residence, especially when she wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of Versailles. However, she barely got to spend any time there at all since King Louis XIV always wanted her to be by his side. Now that's a romantic backstory!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Eric Pouhier
Château de Vincennes
A Medieval fortress unlike any other, the Château de Vincennes is another grand mansion just right outside of Paris that's rich in history. The fortified castle has stood since 14th-century and was used as both a residence and prison for a lot of French royals and aristocrats. Its most famous feature, the tall donjon at the center, even imprisoned the famous Marquis de Sade at one point. And at one end of the château, you can see the stunning Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes, a smaller version of the equally-gothic Sainte-Chapelle in Paris' 1st arrondissement
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Selbymay
As far as grand châteaus go, the domed Vaux-le-Vicomte can't be missed. The structure itself looks like a grand church in the Vatican, especially the central dome which, if you peek through from the inside, looks heavenly in all aspects. The manicured gardens of the estate, on the other hand, can rival even the more famous Palace of Versaille in terms of grandeur and neatness. And if you want a fascinating backstory, Vaux-le-Vicomte also has a doozy! The château once belonged to Nicolas Fouquet, the former Marquis de Belle-Île, but was dragged to prison under false charges trumped up by none other than King Louis XIV. After Fouquet's imprisonment, the French monarch then got a hold of all his possessions, not the least of which was Vaux-le-Vicomte!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Momory22
If you thought Paris and the Palaces of Versailles were as grand as France can get, think again! There are actually many stunning châteaus located just right outside the French capital. Bask in their historic glories when you have the time!
They may not compare when it comes to grandiosity, but the luxury homes in Paris
are still beautiful and worth getting for yourself nonetheless!