France had many Medieval castles built, many of which still stand as tourist attractions to this day. The interesting thing about French Medieval castles is the wide variety of uses and reasons for use that each one had. From exiled members of the Papal government, to serving as a Christian abbey, to the good old fashioned defense against invading armies. The French castles were primarily built of stone, unlike earlier British models (though don’t be fooled—the British continued to advance designs as time passed). Following is a list of some of the most famous castles in all of France and what they are best known for.
This castle is a strongly fortified palace built in the 1300s when the Popes, exiled from Italy, set up a Papacy in exile in France. The castle's architecture is a balance of asymmetrical, yet ordered buildings, and actually blends the French and Italian styles together. Despite being there for the papacy in exile, strangely enough ornate gargoyles penetrate into the exterior of the castle walls.
This castle is located in the northern slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains, which separate Spain from France. While it was started as a solid, basic castle, during the successive decades, and even centuries, towers were added. The castle itself is dominated by a strong keep and all of the walls and towers are topped with merlons. This castle has seen its share of sieges, but every attacking army was thwarted by the castle's rock solid foundation on a rocky crag.
This castle is one of the most picturesque castles in all of Europe, and is much closer to the brilliance most people imagine when they think of Medieval castles. This castle is also its own city, built in the Saint-Michel bay. Tides would bring in a daily barrier of water between the castle and the mainland. A Benedictine abbey was founded here, though a more recent Gothic cathedral took its place, and exists at this site today.
This castle was built on a bank of the Rhone River and is completely surrounded by water. It was constructed between the late 14th and mid-15th centuries, and is an amazingly compact structure. This plain, but solid, castle is a strong contrast to the beautiful landscape.
This castle was built in the 1300s as a resident castle for French kings, making it one of the few castles that actually fulfills one of the most common untrue stereotypes about Medieval castles. The design was based on very strict mathematics, which makes it symmetrically perfect.