Castles in Southern France: A Journey through History and Beauty

Southern France is not only known for its stunning natural landscapes and picturesque cities along the Mediterranean Sea but also boasts a rich history and remarkable architectural heritage. If you’re a history enthusiast or simply appreciate the charm of ancient monuments, exploring the famous castles in Southern France is an absolute must. Get ready to be transported back in time as we take you on a journey through the most interesting castles in the region.

How to Explore Southern France’s Castles

To fully appreciate the beauty and historical significance of these castles, we recommend visiting them by car. Booking a car through Discover Cars is a convenient and affordable option. With the ability to compare prices from various rental car agencies and the flexibility to modify or cancel your booking for free, you can have a stress-free and enjoyable exploration of Southern France’s castles. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.

Alternatively, you can embark on a day trip from Toulouse to visit the famous Comtal castle in the Cité of Carcassonne. Click here for more information and to book the tour. If you prefer public transportation, you can also take the train to reach the castles in the South of France. Click here for more information on tickets.

30 Captivating Castles to Visit in Southern France

1. Château de la Napoule

Château de la Napoule

Located in Mandelieu-La Napoule, Alpes Maritimes, Château de la Napoule is a 14th-century fortified structure situated in a picturesque coastal setting. Originally the residence of the Counts of Villeneuve, this castle has a rich history of destruction and reconstruction. In the early 20th century, it was lovingly restored by the Clew family, who added a gorgeous French garden. The interior is adorned with original furniture and remarkable sculptures by Henry Clew. You can even enjoy a meal at the restaurant located on the terrace. Click here for more information.

2. Château Pastré or Château de Montredon

Château Pastré or Château de Montredon

Once known as Château de Montredon, Château Pastré in Marseille is a stunning Provencal castle designed by renowned architect Jean-Charles Danjoy in the 19th century. Originally serving as the private residence of a wealthy merchant family, it was built to impress and entertain guests. Nowadays, the castle is home to the Faience Museum of Marseille and surrounded by a beautiful public park. Click here for more information.

3. Château Borély

Situated in Parc Borely, Marseille, Château Borély is an 18th-century castle that offers a beautiful seaside setting. Built as the residence of Louis Borely, a wealthy local merchant, the castle features both Versailles-style and English-style gardens. It is now home to three museums: the Museum of Fashion, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Museum of Earthenware. After undergoing recent renovations, it has reopened to the public, allowing visitors to enjoy its cultural treasures. Click here for more information.

4. Château of Vauvenargues

Château of Vauvenargues

Dating back to the 13th century, the Château of Vauvenargues in the village of Vauvenargues, Aix-en-Provence, offers a fascinating blend of architectural styles. Originally built as a residence for the Archbishops of Aix, it underwent significant modifications in the 17th century. Notably, the castle was purchased by the renowned artist Pablo Picasso in 1958. Picasso spent many years living and creating art here, and he is even buried on the grounds. While the castle remains private property, its rich history and association with Picasso make it an intriguing sight.

5. Château de Tarascon

Château de Tarascon

Located in the ancient fortified town of Tarascon, this castle stands as a testament to medieval architecture. Built on the edge of the Rhone River, the Château de Tarascon features round towers, a moat, and a drawbridge, typical of a medieval fortress. While a castle has existed on this site since the 13th century, the current structure dates back to the 15th century. Visitors can explore the inner courtyard, visit the chapel, and enjoy stunning views from the rooftop. Click here for more information.

6. Château des Baux de Provence

Château des Baux de Provence

Perched atop a rocky hill, Château des Baux de Provence offers not only a glimpse into medieval history but also breathtaking views of the Camargue delta and the Alpilles mountains. Although now in ruins, the castle provides an immersive experience with a medieval shop, a film screening in the Saint-Blaise chapel, and strategically placed pictures that showcase its former glory. When visiting the village of Les Baux de Provence, don’t miss the chance to explore this captivating castle. Click here for more information.

7. Le Château de Montauban

Le Château de Montauban

Built at the end of the 18th century, Château de Montauban served as the summer retreat for the Ambroy noble family. Situated in the charming town of Fontvielle, the castle holds historical significance as it was frequently visited by the renowned French writer and poet Alphonse Daudet, who found inspiration in its beauty. Today, the castle has been transformed into a museum dedicated to the history of Fontvielle and local traditions. Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the region as you explore this unique castle.

8. Castle Sommières

Castle Sommières

Dating back to the 11th century, Castle Sommières showcases its military past through various architectural changes that reflect the trends and political climate of different eras. Once a military stronghold and an important prison, the castle now stands as a historical monument and houses a heritage center. Exploring its walls and learning about its intriguing history provides a glimpse into a bygone era. Click here for more information.

9. Palais des Papes

Palais des Papes

A true marvel of Gothic architecture, the Palais des Papes in Avignon is an exceptional castle that served as the residence and administrative center of the popes in the 14th century. With its grand ceremonial halls, treasure rooms, lavishly decorated private apartments, chapels, and terraces, the palace offers a glimpse into the opulent life of the popes of that time. Adorned with valuable frescoes, paintings, and religious art pieces, the Palais des Papes is a testament to the grandeur and influence of the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. Click here for more information and to book your tickets.

10. Castle of Flaugergues

Castle of Flaugergues

A true gem on the outskirts of Montpellier, Château de Flaugergues is an extravagant country house from the 17th century. Built by a wealthy bourgeois family, the castle features impressive architecture and lavish interiors. Explore the well-preserved Gothic chapel, stroll through the charming courtyard, and admire the Renaissance-inspired grand staircase and fireplaces. You can also find a local wine store on the castle grounds, offering wine from the castle’s own vineyard. Click here for more information.

11. Château Comtal

Château Comtal

Located within the fortified medieval city of Carcassonne, Château Comtal is a magnificent castle from the 12th century. Serving as the residence of the powerful Counts of Carcassonne, this castle is an architectural marvel. Explore its opulent rooms, marvel at the exquisite frescoes and paintings, and take in the panoramic views from its battlements. As one of the most beautiful medieval castles in the world, Château Comtal is a true treasure waiting to be discovered. Click here for more information.

12. Châteaux de Lastours

Châteaux de Lastours

Situated in the village of Lastours, the Châteaux de Lastours is a fascinating complex of four medieval castles that now lie in ruins. Built in the 17th century, these castles played a vital role in protecting the region. The village itself is an archaeological site worth exploring, offering a glimpse into the past and a reminder of the region’s eventful history. Click here for more information.

13. Castle of Saissac

Castle of Saissac

Perched on a hill overlooking the Carcassonne plain, the Castle of Saissac dates back to the 10th century. With its strategic location, this fortress played a significant role in the region’s defense. Over the centuries, it expanded and transformed into an impressive stronghold. Although its interiors are now empty, the castle houses a heritage center that provides insight into its rich history. Explore its towers and walls and imagine the stories they could tell. Click here for more information.

14. Château de Lagarde

Château de Lagarde

Built in the 18th century, Château de Lagarde was originally a charterhouse surrounded by beautiful valleys and forests. Over time, it was transformed into a lavish residence for aristocratic families. Unfortunately, the castle was damaged during the French Revolution and is now in ruins. However, a few towers and curtain walls still stand, allowing visitors to appreciate its former grandeur. Click here for more information.

15. Château de Foix

Château de Foix

The Château de Foix, dating back to the 10th century, was once the seat of the powerful Comtes de Foix. This medieval fortress offers a captivating journey through history. Explore its empty interiors and discover the interactive museum that showcases the lives and legacies of the Counts of Foix. From the battlements, enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Click here for more information.

16. Château de Montségur

Château de Montségur

As one of the most famous Cathar Castles, Château de Montségur holds immense historical significance. It is associated with a tragic event in which 200 Cathars were burned alive on the site for refusing to renounce their faith. Today, the castle stands in ruins, but visitors can learn more about its history at the history and archaeology museum located in the nearby village of Montségur. Click here for more information.

17. Château de Puilaurens

Château de Puilaurens

Perched on a rocky hill, Château de Puilaurens is a captivating medieval castle that offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Its strategic location and imposing architecture reflect its historical role as a protective stronghold. Although abandoned after the French Revolution, the castle’s ruins are remarkably preserved. Immerse yourself in its history as you explore the remnants of this impressive fortress. Click here for more information.

18. Château de Peyrepertuse

Château de Peyrepertuse

Another renowned Cathar castle, Château de Peyrepertuse, sits atop a rocky ridge offering stunning views of the surrounding region. Built in the 11th century, it served as a vital border defense against Spain and Aragon. While no longer a military stronghold, its dramatic location and imposing size make it one of the most visited castles in the region. Explore its walls and immerse yourself in its rich history. Click here for more information.

19. The Castle of Val

The Castle of Val

Situated on a small peninsula by Lake Bort-les-Orgues, The Castle of Val is an enchanting medieval castle dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. With its Gothic chapel, charming courtyard, grand staircase, and Renaissance-inspired architectural elements, the castle is a captivating sight to behold. During the summer, you can also enjoy a relaxed day at the landscaped beach near the castle or take a boat cruise on the lake. Click here for more information.

20. Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castle

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castle

Nestled in the village of Castelnaud in Dordogne, Château de Castelnaud is one of the most visited castles in France. Its majestic architecture and picturesque location on a rocky hill above the village make it a truly romantic sight. Founded in the 12th century, the castle played a significant role in military conflicts. Today, it houses important collections of medieval weaponry and artifacts, offering visitors a glimpse into the region’s tumultuous past. Click here for more information.

21. Château des Milandes

Château des Milandes

Originally built in the 15th century, Château des Milandes is a Renaissance castle known for its remarkable architecture. It was once the residence of Joséphine Baker, the famous American music star who restored the castle to its former glory. With its turrets, stained glass windows, and fairy-tale-like features, this castle is a true gem. Step inside to admire the Art Deco interior and learn about its fascinating history. Click here for more information.

22. Château de Beynac

Château de Beynac

Perched high on a cliff, Château de Beynac is an imposing medieval fortress that offers commanding views of the Dordogne Valley. Climb the spiral staircase to the watchtower and be rewarded with panoramic vistas. Inside, marvel at the Roman keep, oratory, and valuable 17th-century paintings and frescoes. As you explore this castle, you’ll feel transported back in time to an era of knights and chivalry. Click here for more information.

23. Castle Commarque

Castle Commarque

Castle Commarque, dating back to the 12th century, is a medieval castle that once protected the valley of the Beune River. After centuries of neglect, the castle was purchased by Hubert de Commarque, who launched a restoration project. Explore the Gothic keep, the Great Hall, and the remarkably intact chapel. Discover the castle’s remarkable history and gain insight into its medieval past. Click here for more information.

24. Bonaguil Castle

Bonaguil Castle

Originally built in the 13th century, Château de Bonaguil was fortified and expanded in the 15th century. Though never attacked, it stands as a stunning example of medieval military architecture. With intact turrets, towers, drawbridges, and moats, this castle offers a glimpse into the past. From its panoramic terrace, soak in the breathtaking views of the lush countryside that surrounds it. Click here for more information.

25. Castle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Castle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Located in the renowned vineyard area of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this castle was built as a Papal Castle in the 14th century. Despite suffering damage during World War II, it remains an important historical site. While sections of the castle are now ruins, the dungeon, cellar, and Southern Wall still stand, preserving its historical significance. Today, the castle is used for various activities and events. Immerse yourself in history as you explore this unique castle.

26. Château de Boulbon

Château de Boulbon

Overlooking the Rhone Valley, Château de Boulbon is a 12th-century feudal castle that once protected Provence from invaders. Although it changed owners multiple times, it was often owned by noble families with royal connections. Abandoned in the early 19th century, the castle remains in ruins and is now private property. While not open to visitors, its presence contributes to the charm of the village of Boulbon.

27. Château Médieval de Roquebrune

Château Médieval de Roquebrune

Situated in the village of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Château Médieval de Roquebrune was originally built in 970 as a fortified structure protecting the entire village. Over time, it played a significant political role and underwent expansion. Topped with stunning views of the medieval village and the Mediterranean Sea, this massive fortress is a sight to behold. Immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere as you explore its historical grounds. Click here for more information.

28. Château de Gordes

Château de Gordes

Château de Gordes showcases a compelling mix of medieval and Renaissance architecture. Dating back to the 11th century, the castle underwent renovations in the 15th century to transform it into a luxurious Renaissance residence. Once serving as a granary, military barracks, and even a prison, it now presents medieval features alongside classical Italian Renaissance elements. Immerse yourself in the history of this enchanting castle. Click here for more information.

29. Castle of Simiane-la-Rotonde

Castle of Simiane-la-Rotonde

Castle of Simiane-la-Rotonde dominates the landscape with its hilltop position, offering panoramic views of olive groves and lavender fields. Dating back to the 12th century, this fortified castle boasts a beautiful keep, a Romanesque hall, and ornate decorative elements. Visit the exhibition on the castle’s history and immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere of this captivating site. Click here for more information.

30. Castle Roquetaillade

Castle Roquetaillade

Castle Roquetaillade, built in the 14th century, has been in the same family for seven centuries. With its impressive ramparts, towers, and dungeons, this castle exemplifies French medieval architecture. Over time, it acquired Renaissance-style elements, creating a unique blend of styles. Marvel at the castle’s charming interiors, filled with valuable furniture and artwork. Although privately owned, the castle remains an important historical monument. Click here for more information.

Visiting these magnificent castles in Southern France will transport you back in time to an era of grandeur and intrigue. Enveloped by the region’s stunning natural landscapes, olive groves, lavender fields, and picturesque villages, your journey through history will be truly unforgettable.

FAQs about the Best Castles in Southern France

If you have any questions or need further information about exploring the best castles in Southern France, check out our frequently asked questions below.

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