3 incredibly beautiful castles within an hour's drive from Paris

Chateaux Proches De Paris

if we played Marie-Antoinette in the most beautiful castles and royal domains? The editorial team shares their top 3 favorite castles to visit within an hour of Paris, with incredible exhibitions and stunning gardens to take a deep breath of fresh air and culture G.

The Chantilly Castle

Let's start with the most indulgent of estates: the Chantilly Castle. Built in the Middle Ages and shaped by its owners through the centuries (the d'Orgemont, Montmorency, Bourbon families...), the castle is a must-visit to learn more about French history, offering all-year-round exciting activities for all ages.

What's on the agenda? Chocolate sculptures to admire in the Gallery of Stags, a guided tour on royal tableware, and, most importantly, a workshop to learn how to make the famous Chantilly cream. Yum! The place is full of kid-friendly activities, with flamboyant equestrian shows and several outdoor games and quests. Of course, the beauty of the castle also lies in its three gardens, where it's nice to have a picnic in the sun, relax in a bucolic hamlet, and frolic near the park's sheep (and kangaroos!). We inevitably pass by the "Great Stables," a masterpiece of 17th-century architecture, which houses the Horse Museum, with real animals that will delight aspiring knights!

The cherry on top: feeling romantic? It's possible to take a boat ride along the Grand Canal and up to the garden's waterfall. Terribly cute!

Chantilly Castle, 7 rue Connétable, Chantilly. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. +33 (0)3 44 27 31 80. Prices: from €9 to €17.

The National Estate of Marly

Less famous than its cousin in Versailles, the National Estate of Marly is nonetheless one of the great accomplishments of the Grand Siècle. Conceived as a place of pleasure, far from the strict codes of the court, the château welcomed the King's courtesans, as well as entertainment for the monarch's close associates.

As a true playground, the site that once housed attractions (including swings and "ramasses," the roller coasters of the time...) is now a sublime place whose museum still offers some vestiges of the château, as well as furniture, models, and paintings. The famous estate extends into a gorgeous garden where long walks (leading to Versailles!), bodies of water, and wooded areas sheltered from view come together. Sports enthusiasts can extend their visit (by bike) and discover the "Fort du trou d'enfer" and the magnificent forest of Marly-le-roi. In addition to its sublime vegetation, the estate is home to an immense variety of birds that will delight even the most seasoned ornithologists!

The added bonus: the exhibition "Seduction and Power: The Art of Dressing for the Court," currently on display at the estate museum and reserved for true fans of Sofia Coppola's films. Through this exhibit, visitors can discover the customs of the court, the fashion trends of the time, and the debates that were sparked by the attire of the aristocracy.

Royal Estate of Marly, free access through the Porte du Bourg, the Grille Deux Portes, the Grille Royale, the Grille Cœur Volant, the Porte du Roi, and the Porte du Stade from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Museum of the Royal Estate of Marly, 1 Grille Royale, Marly-le-Roi. 01 39 69 06 26. Price: 5 €.

The Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

We wrap up this aristocratic road trip with the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a small jewel of the 17th century with a stunning Renaissance style. If the exterior of this castle already delights you, wait until you see its interior courtyard, where its red brick decor and sparkling windows are worthy of a fairytale.

Between the beauty of its facades and the charm of its historic chapel, it's hard to know where to look. This irresistible place also houses the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale, which contains one of the largest collections of historical objects in Europe, with acquisitions from the Paleolithic to the Middle Ages. Another curiosity: lucky visitors may spot one of the rare tours of the Edouard Piette collection, which houses the findings of the famous archaeologist, including the Dame de Brassempouy, the most faithful representation of prehistoric women. Plus, the castle has thought of everything to keep us entertained and currently offers an immersive exhibition on the traces of King Clovis. A historian friend will be delighted!

The added bonus: the medieval heritage city, with its narrow winding streets and shady courtyards that offer many sweet spots, for a comforting ice cream, a little cake on the go, or a drink on a terrace away from prying eyes. Yum!

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Musée d'Archéologie Nationale - Domaine National de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Château-Place Charles de Gaulle Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Museum open every day (except Tuesday) from 10am to 5pm and estate from 8am to 7:30pm until the end of April, then from 8am to 8:30pm until September. 01 39 10 13 00. Admission: 6€.

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