5 Castles (Palaces) Near Paris
One of the many reasons that visitors flock to Paris is her rich history and stunning architecture. The city, and the surrounding area, have some of the most beautiful castles and palaces in the world. If you’re planning a trip to the City of Light, make sure to put these on your to-do list.
The Château de Versailles (around 20 kilometers outside Paris) is perhaps the most well-known palace in France. It is a national landmark, and its breathtaking opulence makes it a very popular tourist attraction. This also means that the queue to go inside gets very very long (up to three hours!) The best thing to do is to go on a skip the line tour, which includes a picnic by the Grand Canal and a tour of the famous Versailles gardens. You could also go on a VIP Versailles Bike Tour, and enjoy a relaxed tour of the places that other visitors never see!
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A little bit further out, but still in the Ile de France region, the royal Château de Fontainebleau is one of the grandest in the country, and a favorite of Napoleon. Now a world heritage UNESCO site, the beautiful grounds and gardens are free to wander around, and the tour provides a helpful audio guide. If the sun is out, you should rent a little boat and take the family out onto the lake. One word of advice: It’s closed on Tuesdays!
The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is an hour and a half to the south-east of Paris is a must-see for anyone interested in architecture, landscape design, or the tumultuous history of France. Smaller than Versailles and Fontainebleau, but stunning nevertheless, Vaux-le-Vicomte is a good option for those who get tired more quickly, as there are two well-reviewed restaurants and a bar onsite for resting weary legs, and it is rarely crowded.
The Château de Sceaux is most known for her magnificent gardens. A haven of peace, just 10 kilometers from the city center, there is also a small museum dedicated to the history of the region in the château itself. I definitely recommend bringing the kids and a picnic for a great family afternoon away from the busy Paris streets.
If you don’t want to stray too far from the city, the Château de Vincennes is a quick metro ride away. A royal residence from the 14th-18th century, the chapel is beautiful and the fortress impressive. Visitors are always surprised that this site is not higher up on the typical tourist agenda. Don’t miss out on the neighboring Parc Floral, a gorgeous botanical park which also hosts a jazz festival and lots of activities for children.