3 Beautiful Castles Within 1 Hour of Paris

Chateaux Proches De Paris

© Château de Chantilly (@chateauchantilly), Thibault Charpentier, RMN GP, Sophie Lloyd (@sophielloydpatrimoine) - Royal Domain of Marly, Thomas Garnier.

What about channeling your inner Marie-Antoinette in the most magnificent castles and royal domains? Our editorial team shares its top 3 favorite castles to visit within an hour of Paris, featuring incredible exhibitions and sublime gardens for a breath of fresh air and culture.


Château de Chantilly

Let's start with the most indulgent of domains: the Château de Chantilly. Built in the Middle Ages and shaped by its owners through the centuries (the Orgemont family, Montmorency, Bourbon...), the castle is a must-visit to delve into the history of France, offering year-round activities for both young and old.

What’s on the agenda? Chocolate sculptures to admire in the Gallery of Stags, a guided tour on the art of dining in royal times, and, of course, a workshop to learn how to whip up the famous Chantilly cream. Yum! The place is packed with kid-friendly activities, including flamboyant equestrian shows and various outdoor games and investigations. Naturally, the beauty of the castle also lies in its three gardens where it’s delightful to picnic in the sun, relax in a bucolic hamlet, and frolic near the sheep (and kangaroos!) in the park. A visit to the "Great Stables", a masterpiece of 17th-century architecture housing the Museum of the Horse, is a must for aspiring knights and horse lovers!

Bonus tip: Feeling romantic? Take a boat ride along the Grand Canal to the garden's waterfall. Terribly cute!

Nearby dining spot: The restaurant at Le Hameau park, where you can enjoy fresh products in the midst of nature, including a warm goat cheese salad (€17.70) or lamb shank (€27.60), and, of course, a generous serving of homemade Chantilly cream!

Château de Chantilly, 7 rue Connétable, Chantilly. Open Wednesday to Monday from 10 am to 6 pm. 03 44 27 31 80.Starting from €17.

© Château de Chantilly (@chateauchantilly), Thibault Charpentier, RMN GP, Sophie Lloyd (@sophielloydpatrimoine).


Royal Domain of Marly

Less famous than its cousin Versailles, the Domaine de Marly is nonetheless one of the great achievements of the Grand Siècle. Designed as a place of pleasure, away from the strict codes of the court, the castle hosted the King's courtesans as well as entertainment for the monarch's close associates.

A true playground, the site once housed attractions (including swings and "ramasses," the roller coasters of the time...) and is now a sublime place where the museum still displays some remnants of the castle, as well as furniture, models, and paintings. The famous domain extends into a stunning garden where long walks (leading to Versailles!), bodies of water, and shady groves await. Sports enthusiasts can extend their visit (by bike) to 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 a vast variety of birds that will delight even the most seasoned ornithologists!

Bonus tip: The exhibition "Imperial Silks for Versailles" runs until June 23 at the museum of the domain, showcasing Napoleon 1st's exceptional commission to Lyon silk manufacturers to furnish the Palace of Versailles. Explore a unique collection of 120 silks that were never used by the emperor!

Nearby dining spot: Le Cottage de Marly, a tea room with an absolutely charming boudoir atmosphere. Head here for a hot cup of tea and a delightful homemade pastry!

Royal Domain of Marly, free access through various gates from 7 am to 9:30 pm. Museum of the Royal Domain of Marly, open Wednesday to Sunday from 2 pm to 6 pm. 01 39 69 06 26. Price: starting from €5.

© Thomas Garnier


Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

We conclude this aristocratic road trip with the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a small jewel of the 17th century with its breathtaking Renaissance style. If the facade of this castle already delights you, wait until you see its inner courtyard, where its red brick decor and sparkling windows are reminiscent of a fairy tale.

Between the beauty of its facades and the charm of its holy chapel, one is spoiled for choice. This irresistible place houses the National Archaeology Museum since 1862 and boasts one of the largest collections of archeological objects in Europe, with acquisitions from the Paleolithic to the Middle Ages. Another curiosity: lucky visitors might catch 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. Perfect for history buffs!

Bonus tip: The medieval heritage town, with its winding streets and shaded courtyards, offers numerous sweet spots for a comforting ice cream, a quick pastry, or a drink on a terrace away from prying eyes. Yum!

Nearby dining spot: Le Café des Arts in the Jardin des Arts for their unbeatable tea-time, brunch, and snack deals (from €14 to €18.50).

Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, National Archaeology Museum - National Domain of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Château-Place Charles de Gaulle Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Museum open every day (except Tuesday) from 10 am to 5 pm and domain from 8 am to 8:30 pm until September. 01 39 10 13 00. Price: €6.

© D. Plowy – MAN

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