Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle), the fairy tale castle at the centre of Europe’s number one tourist destination, was inspired by several examples of France’s most beautiful medieval architecture. The castle is built on a rock, like its main inspiration of Mont Saint-Michel; its windows were taken from the ones at Chaumont, the stained glass from Chambord, the columns from the Church of Saint-Séverin in Paris, the thin towers from Azay-le-Rideau, and the roof from the Hospices de Beaune…
So, after marvelling at the Disney masterpiece, you might want to visit some more. Here are five castles that are not at all far from the Disneyland Resort.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
Vaux-le-Vicomte is the seminal expression of the Jardin à la Française, the French aesthetic of formal gardens that swept Europe in the seventeenth century. Created by André Le Nôtre, landscape architect and principal gardener of King Louis XIV, the strong lines and nobility of the garden design, its changing vistas and hidden charms, and the symphony of fountains all combine with theatrical majesty to make Vaux-le-Vicomte a masterpiece of the French formal garden.
The castle was constructed for the marquis Nicolas Fouquet, who commissioned the most important artists of his time – an architect, Louis Le Vau; a painter, Charles Le Brun; and a landscape gardener; André Le Nôtre – to jointly execute the entire project. The result of this fraternal union was a work of unparalleled harmony and beauty. Louis XIV would go on to hire the same team to build the Palace of Versailles.
© Jean-Pol GRANDMONT
The Palace of Versailles was successively a hunting lodge, a seat of power and, from the nineteenth century, a museum. Together with its gardens, Versailles is one of the most famous monuments of world heritage. The buildings trace the architectural style of the seventeenth century and comprise the Royal Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors, the Chapel, the Royal Opera and the Museum of the History of France. The park is decorated with statues, fountains, water parterres and outstanding buildings such as the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon, the Temple de l’Amour and the Hamlet of Queen Marie-Antoinette.
© Châteaux & Jardins Autour de Paris
Palace of Fontainebleau
With over 1,500 rooms at the heart of 130 acres of parkland and gardens, Fontainebleau is the only royal and imperial château to have been continuously inhabited for seven centuries. This sprawling palace is a veritable showcase of French architecture from the twelfth to the nineteenth century. Now emblematic of Château de Fontainebleau, the famous horseshoe-shaped staircase dates from the reign of Louis XIII, based on a Renaissance model, and was the work of Jean Androuet du Cerceau.
© Seine-et-Marne Tourisme
Château de Ferrières
Château de Ferrières invites you to live in French excellence. Built in the nineteenth century by the French side of the Rothschild family, with Italian and English inspirations, it is a jewel of cultural heritage. Ferrières was built by the famous English gardener and architect Joseph Paxton and inaugurated by Napoleon III in 1862. Today, it is still regarded as the most luxurious French château of the nineteenth century while its park is considered to be the most beautiful English garden in France.
© Paris Capitale
Vienna House Dream Castle Paris
After so many beautiful visits, why not stay in a castle for the night?
Built on the model of the classic seventeenth century French châteaux, Vienna House Dream Castle Paris stands in the middle of a French-style garden opening onto a small lake that is a popular setting for summer festivities. The decoration of the hotel is focused on the theme of the Musketeers and the Sanssouci summer palace in Potsdam.
“There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.” – G. K. Chesterton