Best Castles in Southern France

Best French Castles Chateau de Bonaguil

Southern France is one of the most touristic places on earth, yet many visit it for the splendid nature of Provence and the scenic cities on the Mediterranean Sea, forgetting that this is a region with an incredibly rich history and many remarkable monuments to attest to it. A good way to enjoy the blend of history and picturesque surroundings is to visit the famous castles in the area.

Based on their historical and architectural value, this list brings together the most interesting castles in Southern France to visit.

31 castles worth visiting in Southern France

1. Château de Villeneuve

Castles in Southern France-Château-de-Villeneuve

Château de Villeneuve is one of the most famous castles in Southern France. This stunning 18th-century was built on a plateau with beautiful views of the nearby river and surrounded by acres of vineyards. Today the property belongs to the Chevallier family who purchased it in 1969 and restored it to its current magnificent look after devastating damage during World War II almost left it in ruins. The modernization of the castle and the cellars have put Château de Villeneuve on the touristic circuit again.

Where: Souzay-Champigny

When: 18th-century

Style:  –

Open to visit: Only Saturdays from 2.00 pm.

Tickets:

2. Château de la Napoule

Best castles in Southern France-Château-de-la-Napoule

Château de la Napoule was a 14th-century fortified structure situated in a picturesque location by the sea. Once the home of the Counts of Villeneuve, the castle was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries. At the beginning of the 20th-century, it was purchased by the Clew family, comprised of a sculptor and a landscape architect. The couple completely rebuilt the castle and created a gorgeous French garden. The interior was decorated with original furniture and adorned with Henry Clew’s outstanding sculptures. A restaurant has been opened on the terrace.

Where:  Mandelieu-La Napoule, Alpes Maritimes

When: 14th-century/20th-century

Style:  Medieval

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 9.30 am all year round.

Tickets: Adults – 6 euros; Children under 7 – free; Children (7-18) – 4 euros;

3. Château Pastré or Château de Montredon

Southern French Castles-Château-Pastré--or-Chateau-de-Montredon

Château Pastre was formerly known as Château de Montredon due to its location in the suburb of Montredon, in Marseille. This stunning Provencal castle was designed by a renowned Parisian architect, Jean-Charles Danjoy, in the latter half of the 19th-century to serve as the private residence of a wealthy merchant family. As the owners were popular socialites, they wanted an impressive and large enough building so they could hold entertainments for their many guests. Since 2012, the Château Pastre is home to the Faience Museum of Marseille dedicated to pottery. A public park surrounds the building.

Where: Marseille

When: 19th-century

Style:  Provencal

Open to visit: Yes, daily all year round.

Tickets: Free entrance

4. Château Borély

Famous Castles in Southern France-Château-Borély

Situated by the seaside in Parc Borely, the most popular park in Marseille, Château Borely is a beautiful construction from the 18th-century built as a home for a rich local merchant named Louis Borely. His descendants added the Versailles-style gardens to the main property. English-style gardens were planted later. Since the 19th-century, the castle belongs to the city of Marseille, and it was recently reopened to the public after renovation. It is now home to three museums: the Museum of Fashion, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Museum of Earthenware.

Where: Marseille

When: 18th-century

Style:  –

Open to visit: Yes, daily except Mondays from 10.00 am.

Tickets: Adults – 6 euros; Reduced – 3 euros;

5. Château of Vauvenargues

Best Southern French Castles-Château-of-Vauvenargues

The history of Château of Vauvenargues begins in the 13th-century when the castle was built as a residence for the Archbishops of Aix. Three centuries later, a massive wall was added to the structure, complementing the two large towers. The present configuration dates from this period, but large modifications were made in the 17th-century. The castle belonged to several royal and noble families, passing by marriage or sale from one influential family to another. In 1958, the château was bought by Pablo Picasso who painted here some of his famous works and was even buried here. The castle still belongs to the Picasso family.

Where: Village of Vauvenargues, Aix-en-Provence

When: 13th-century to 17th-century

Style:  –

Open to visit: No, private property.

Tickets: –

6. Château de Tarascon

Castles in Southern France-Château-de-Tarascon

Located in an ancient fortified town between some of Provence’s most charming sights, Château de Tarascon was built right on the edge of the Rhone River. With round towers and a moat, this is a typical medieval fortress once isolated from the outside by a draw bridge. A castle existed in the same location since the 13th-century, but it was totally destroyed in battle. A new construction arose on the site at the beginning of the 15th-century. Abandoned for a while, the castle was later transformed into a prison. Today visitors can stroll around the inner courtyard, visit the chapel,  and check the stunning views from the rooftop.

Where: town of Tarascon

When: 15th-century

Style:  Medieval Fortress

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 10.30 am from September to April and from 11.00 am from May to August.

Tickets: Adults – 7.5 euros; Reduced – 6.5 euros; Children (10-17) – 3.5 euros; Children under 10 – free.

7. Château des Baux de Provence

Best castles in Southern France-Château-des-Baux-de-Provence

Château des Baux de Provence was once a strong medieval fortress, protecting the region from its position atop a rocky hill. Although now in ruins, the castle offers splendid views of the Camargue delta and the rugged Alpilles mountains. Visitors are welcomed with a complex touristic setting, which features a medieval shop, a film screening in the Saint-Blaise chapel, a model of the castle showing its 13th-century appearance, and strategically placed pictures that give a glimpse into the castle’s time of glory.

Where: village of Les Baux de Provence

When: 10th-century

Style:  Early Medieval Fortress

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 10.00 am from November to February, from 9.30 am in March and October, and from 9.00 am from April to September.

Tickets: Adults – 8 euros; Reduced – 6 euros; Children under 7 – free.

8. Le Château de Montauban

Southern French Castles-Le-Château-de-Montauban

Built at the end of the 18th-century and completed in the early 19th-century, Château de Montauban was once the residence of a noble family, the Ambroy, and it is one of the best castles to visit in Southern France. The place is renowned for being a summer retreat for famous French writer and poet Alphonse Daudet, who was friends with the owners. Daudet wrote frequently about his attachment to the place and its beauty. Today, the castle is a museum dedicated to the history of the town, Fontvielle, and local traditions.

Where: Fontvielle

When: 18th/19th-century

Style:  –

Open to visit: Yes, from 10.30 am Wednesday to Sunday, from mid-June to the end of September.

Tickets: Adults – 4 euros; Children (7-12) – 2.5 euros; Children under 7 – free;

9. Castle Sommières

Famous Castles in Southern France-Castle-Sommières

Built in the 11th-century, Castle Sommieres has been through many changes over the centuries, reflecting the trends and political climate of each era. In its first centuries, the fortress was repeatedly after siege due to its strategic location. It was fortified gradually until it became a true military stronghold and an important prison. The castle was abandoned in the 20th-century and only one of its two main towers still stands today. Now a historical monument, Castle Sommieres houses a heritage center.

Where: Village of Sommières

When: 10th-century

Style:  Early Medieval Fortress

Open to visit: Yes, from 10.00 am Monday to Friday and 3.00 pm during the weekend from July to September.

Tickets: Adults – 3 euros; Reduced – 2 euros

10.Palais des Papes

Best Southern French Castles-Palais-des-Papes

Built in less than 20 years, the Palais des Papes was considered in the 14th-century one of the most extraordinary residences in the world. The palace functioned as the official residence of the pope and home of the Catholic Church after the Papal State had established Avignon as its capital. Today it is one of the top castles to visit in Southern France. Visitors have the chance to explore the incredible ceremonial halls, treasure rooms, lavish private apartments, chapels, and terraces. As expected, all rooms are beautifully decorated with immensely valuable frescoes, paintings, and religious art pieces.

Where: downtown Avignon

When: 14th-century

Style:  Gothic

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 9.00 am from September to November and March to August and from 9.30 from November to February.

Tickets: Adults – 12 euros; Reduced – 10 euros; Children under 8 – free

11. Castle of Flaugergues

Castles in Southern France-Castle-of-Flaugergues

Château de Flaugergues is an extravagant country house built in the 17th-century on the outskirts of Montpellier by a wealthy bourgeois family. As fashionable at the time, the residence featured lavish furniture, Flemish tapestries, paintings, pottery, and porcelain collections, which have remained intact ever since. The castle is surrounded by French and English-style gardens, along with an orangery. Although not grandiose like other French aristocratic residences, Château de Flaugergues is a charming place with an impressive interior. A local wine store can be found on the grounds of the castle, selling wine from the castle’s vineyard.

Where: Montpellier

When: 17th-century

Style:  Country House

Open to visit: Yes,  from 9.30 from Monday to Friday from May to October;  from 1.00 pm on Saturday and Sunday in June, July, and September, and from 2.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday in August and October to May.

Tickets: Adults – 10 euros; Reduced – 7 euros; Children under 12 – free.

12. Château Comtal

Best castles in Southern France-Château-Comtal

Located within the fortified medieval city of Carcassone, Château Comtal is a Cathar castle built in the 12th-century atop a hillside. As the city was once the seat of the Counts of Carcassonne, Château Comtal was the extravagant residence of the country’s most influential aristocrats and was designed as such. In the 13th-century it became a royal fortress and maintained an important strategic and political role until the 17th-century. Restored in the 19th-century, Château Comtal is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most beautiful medieval castles in the world.

Where: Carcassonne

When: 12th-century

Style:  Medieval Fortress

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 9.30 am from October to March and from 10.00 am from April to September.

Tickets: Adults – 9 euros; Reduced – 7 euros;

13. Châteaux de Lastours

Southern French Castles-Les-Quatre-Châteaux-de-Lastours

Châteaux de Lastours is a Cathar complex of four medieval castles that are now in ruins. Built in the first decade of the 17th-century, the complex had an important role in the protection of the area and was developed as a strategic, fortified commune, as suggested by its location on a rocky outcrop above the village. Called Cabaret, Tour Regine, Surdespine, and Quertineux, the castles were once places of reunion for the French crusaders during the Cathar Crusade. The village of Lastours is also worth a visit as it is an important archaeological site.

Where: Village of Lastours

When: 17th-century

Style:  Medieval

Open to visit: Yes,  daily from 10.00 am from September to June and from 9.00 am in July and August.

Tickets: Adults – 8 euros; Reduced – 4.5 euros; Children(6-15) – 3 euros; Children under 6 – free

14. Castle of Saissac

Famous Castles in Southern France-Castle-of-Saissac

Castle of Saissac is a medieval fortress dating back to Cathar times, which was strategically built above the plain of Carcassonne. The castle is mentioned in documents from the 10th-century, but archeological evidence suggests that the castle was built around 900. As the Saissac family grew more influential and acquired noble status, the castle was also expanded to reflect their growing power, becoming an impressive fortress.

Where: Village of Saissac

When: 10th-century

Style:  Medieval Fortress

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 9.00 am in July and August and from 10.00 am from September to June; closed in January.

Tickets: Adults – 5 euros; Children (6-15) – 3 euros;

15. Château de Lagarde

Best Southern French Castles-Château-de-Lagarde

Built in the first half of the 18th-century, Château de Lagarde was originally a charterhouse, set amid beautiful valleys and forests. Initially a fortified structure, it was gradually turned into a lavish and comfortable residence to accommodate the needs of its aristocratic residents. During the French Revolution, however, the castle was damaged and lost some of its charms. Today Château de Lagarde is in ruins, with only a few towers and curtain walls still intact.

Where: Village of Lagarde

When: 18th-century

Style:  Charterhouse

Open to visit: Yes,  daily from 10.00 am in July and August and from 2.00 pm in September and October.

Tickets: Adults – 4 euros; Children – 1 euro;

16. Château de Foix

Castles in Southern France-Chateau-de-Foix

Built in the 10th-century, Château de Foix was the seat of the powerful Comtes de Foix during the medieval era. From the 16th-century, the castle lost its political significance and was turned into a prison. Although the interiors are empty, the castle is home to an interesting interactive museum that showcases details about the Counts of Foix and their personal and political lives. The castle also houses exhibits of war machines, weapons, and other medieval artifacts. Another highlight is the striking view from the battlements. Visitors can participate in workshops about life in the Middle Ages.

Where: Foix, Ariege

When: 10th-century

Style:  Early Medieval

Open to visit: No restrictions; guided tours from 10.00 am from April to August and from 10.30 am from October to December.

Tickets: Adults – 10.2 euros; Reduced – 8 euros; Children (5-17) – 6.9 euros

17. Château de Montségur

Best castles in Southern France-Château-de-Montségur

One of the most famous Cathar Castles, Château de Montsegur is associated with a powerful episode of Cathar history. In 1244, the castle was under siege for over 10 months, and 200 Cathars were burned alive on the site after refusing to renounce their faith at the order of the Inquisition. After this tragic event, Montsegur Castle became an important symbol of resistance. Today the castle is in ruins, but visitors can find more about its history from the history and archaeology museum located in the village of Montsegur, which displays items found on the grounds of the castle.

Where: Village of Montsegur, Ariege

When: 10th- to 11th- century

Style:  Early Medieval

Open to visit: Yes daily from 10.00 am from March to June and September to October, from 9.00 am in July and August, and from 11.00 am from November to February.

Tickets: Low vs High Season. Adults – 5.5 to 6.5 euros; Children (8-15) 3 to 3.5 euros; Reduced – 4.5 to 5 euros; Children under 8 – free

18. Château de Puilaurens

Southern French Castles-Château-de-Puilaurens

A castle existed on the site of Château de Puilarens from the 10th-century, but around the 13th-century the place started being associated with the Cathars. A striking example of medieval architecture, Château de Puilaurens was built on a rocky hill to serve a protective role. Due to its important location, it became a target of the French monarchy who captured it and transformed into a powerful military stronghold. The castle was abandoned after the French Revolution, but its ruins are well-preserved. From its high altitude, Château de Puilarens offers remarkable views of the surrounding countryside.

Where: commune of Lapradelle-Puilaurens

When: 10th-century

Style:  Early Medieval

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 10.00 am from April to the end of September.

Tickets: Adults – 7 euros; Children (6-15) – 4 euros;

19. Château de Peyrepertuse

Famous Castles in Southern France-Château-de-Peyrepertuse

Another famous Cathar castle in southern France, Château de Peyrepertuse is located at the top of a rocky ridge with views over the entire surrounding region, which suggests its historical defensive role. Built in the 11th-century, the castle was substantially expanded and fortified over the centuries due to its position on the border with Spain and Aragon. When peace settled in the region, the castle’s military role ended, and after the French Revolution, it was completely abandoned. Its dramatic location along with its impressive size makes it one of the most visited castles in the region.

Where: Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse

When: 11th-century

Style:  Early Medieval

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 9.00 am from April to September and from 10.00 am from October to March; closed in January

Tickets: Adults – 7 euros; Reduced – 6 euros; Children (6-12) – 4 euros; Children under 6 – free

20. The Castle of Val

Best Southern French Castles-The-Castle-of-Val

Located in a scenic location on a small peninsula by the peaceful waters of Lake Bort-les-Orgues, Val Castle is a beautiful medieval castle whose construction began in the 14th-century and ended in the 15th-century. The castle includes a well-preserved Gothic chapel, a charming courtyard, and important architectural elements such as a grand staircase and fireplaces of Renaissance inspiration. During summer, a landscaped beach opens near the castle. Visitors can also take a boat cruise on the lake, enjoying views of the romantic castle from afar.

Where: municipality of Lanobre

When: 14th- to 15th- centuries

Style:  Medieval

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 10.00 am in July and August and daily except Monday from 10.00 am from September to November and February to June.

Tickets: Adults – 6.5 euros; Reduced – 2.5 euros; Children (12-18) – 3.5 euros; Children under 6 – free

21. Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Castle

Castles in Southern France-Castelnaud-la-Chapelle-Castle

Located in Dordogne, Château de Castelnaud is one of the most visited French castles. With its majestic architecture and impressive location on a rocky hill above the village, the castle is one of the most romantic sights in the area and offers wide panoramic views of the surrounding valley. Founded as early as the 12th-century, the castle also has an interesting history as it played an important role in many military conflicts. Now, Castelnaud is a historic monument that houses important medieval weaponry and artifacts.

Where: Village of Castelnaud

When: 12th-century

Style:  Medieval Fortress

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 10.00 am from September to November and February to June, from 9.00 am in July and August; from 2.00 pm from November to January.

Tickets: Low vs High Season: Adults – 9.9 to 10.9 euros; Children (10-17) – 5 to 5.5 euros; Children under 10 – free.

22. Château des Milandes

Best castles in Southern France-Château-des-Milandes

Château de Milandes was built in the 15th-century to serve as a residence for the wife of Francois de Caumont, a French nobleman who also owned Castelnaud Castle. This gorgeous Renaissance castle was abandoned after the French Revolution and suffered serious damage. In the 20th-century, famous American music star Josephine Baker purchased the property and restored it. Today Château des Milandes is one of the prettiest French castles, featuring turrets, stained glass windows, and other fairy-tale like features. The Art Deco interior is also a highlight.

Where: Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

When: 15th-century

Style:  Renaissance

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 10.00 am from April to  June and September to November, from 9.30 am in July and August.

Tickets: Adults – 12 euros; Children (5-16) – 7.5 euros; Children under 5 – free.

23. Château de Beynac

Southern French Castles-Château-de-Beynac

An imposing medieval fortress built in the 12th-century, Château de Beynac was built high on a cliff to avoid enemy attacks and to allow a wide control over the Dordogne Valley. To enjoy the panoramic views, visitors must climb the spiral staircase that opens up to the watchtower. Besides the scenic views, the castle features important architectural elements such as a roman keep and an oratory, as well as valuable 17th-century paintings and frescoes.

Where: village of Beynac-et-Cazenac, Dordogne

When: 12th-century

Style:  Medieval Fortress

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 10.00 am all year round except January.

Tickets: Adults – 8 euros; Children (12-16) – 6 euros; Children (5-11) – 4 euros; Children under 5 – free

24. Castle Commarque

Famous Castles in Southern France-Castle-Commarque

Built in the 12th-century, Castle Commarque guards over the valley of Beune River. This beautiful medieval construction had an important historic role but was abandoned and left to crumble in the last few centuries. In the 1970s, Hubert de Commarque purchased the property that historically belonged to his family and launched a renovation project. Archaeological work uncovered fortified walls, a Gothic keep, the Great Hall, and a Romanesque tower. The chapel of the castle was found almost intact.

Where: Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil

When: 12th-century

Style:  Early Medieval

Open to visit: Yes, from April to November. Daily from 11.00 am in April to June and September; from 10.00 am in July and August, from 2.00 pm in October and November.

Tickets: Adults – 8.8 euros; Students 6.5 euros; Children (13-17) – 5 euros; Children (6-12) – 4 euros; Children under 6 – free.

25. Bonaguil Castle

Best Southern French Castles-Bonaguil-Castle

Originally built in the 13th-century, Château de Bonaguil was fortified and expanded at the end of the 15th-century when important elements with a defensive role were added. Although transformed into an example of the best military architecture of the Middle Ages, the fortress was never attacked. It remains, however, one of the most stunning fortified castles in France, and the turrets, towers, drawbridge, and moats are still intact. A panoramic terrace offers beautiful views of the lush countryside.

Where: Village of Saint-Front-Sur-Lémance

When: 13th-century

Style:  Medieval Fortress

Open to visit: Yes, from 10.00 am from April to September and from 2.00 pm from October to March

Tickets: Adults – 9.5 euros; Reduced – 7.5 euros; Children (6-12) – 5 euros;

26. Castle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Castles in Southern France-Castles in Southern France

Located in an area of famous French vineyards, Castle of Château Neuf-du-Pape was a Papal Castle built in the 14th-century. While its size and position suggest that the castle had a defensive role, the extravagant architecture shows that the castle was also meant as an elegant summer residence. The grounds of the castle include charming gardens, vineyards, and olive groves. In the 15th-century when the Popes returned to Rome, the castle was abandoned. The worst damage was caused, however, during World War II, when German troops blew up an important part of it. Only a dungeon, a cellar, and the Southern Wall are intact today, but the castle is still an important historic sight and it is used for activities and events.

Where: town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape

When: 14th-century

Style:  Medieval

Open to visit: Yes, daily except Sunday from 9.30 am all year round.

Tickets:

27. Château de Boulbon

Best castles in Southern France-Château-de-Boulbon

Overlooking the Rhone Valley, Chateau de Boulbon is a feudal castle from the 12th-century which for centuries ensured the protection of Provence against foreign invaders. Although it changed many owners, the castle belonged most of the time to important noble families with ties to the royalty. At the beginning of the 19th-century, the castle was abandoned and it was never inhabited again. Now in ruins, Chateau de Boulbon is private property.

Where: Boulbon, Bouches-du-Rhône

When: 12th-century

Style:  Early Medieval

Open to visit: No, private Property.

Tickets: –

28. Château Médieval de Roquebrune

Southern French Castles-Château-Médieval-de-Roquebrune

Chateau Medieval de Roquebrune was built as early as 970 as a fortified structure meant to ensure the protection of the entire village of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin against barbarian invasions. By the 15th-century, the political role of the castle was substantial and the fortifications were expanded. Since the beginning of the 20th-century, the castle belongs to the local council. Overlooking the medieval village and the Mediterranean Sea east of Monaco, this massive fortress is truly a sight to be seen.

Where: Village of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin

When: 10th-century

Style:  Early Medieval

Open to visit: Yes, daily from 10.00 am from February to October and daily except Fridays from 10.00 am between November and January.

Tickets: Adults – 5 euros; Reduced – 4 euros; Children – 3 euros;

29. Château de Gordes

Famous Castles in Southern France-Château-de-Gordes

Chateau de Gordes is a medieval fortress from the 11th-century which was enlarged in the following centuries to resist against enemy attacks. In the 15th-century, a new owner from a powerful noble family launched a large project of renovation to transform the feudal castle into a luxurious Renaissance-style residence. After a period of neglect, the castle served as a granary, military barracks, and even prison. Today medieval features co-exist with classical Italian Renaissance elements.

Where: village of Gordes, near Avignon

When: 11th-century

Style:  Medieval/Renaissance

Open to visit: daily from April to October

Tickets:

30. Castle of Simiane-la-Rotonde

Best Southern French Castles-Castle-of-Simiane-la-Rotonde

Castle of Simiane-la-Rotonde is a medieval castle that dominates the surrounding olive groves and lavender fields from its hilltop position. This fortified structure dates back to the 12th-century and features a beautiful keep, a Romanesque hall, and many decorative elements. Visitors can enjoy an exhibition on the history of the castle.

Where: Village of Simiane-la-Rotonde

When: 12th-century

Style:  Early Medieval

Open to visit: Yes,  daily except Tuesdays from 10.00 am from March to April, and from September to October; open daily from 10.00 am from May to August.

Tickets: Adults – 5.5 euros; Childen (12-17) and students – 3.5 euros; Children under 12 –free

31. Castle Roquetaillade

Castles in Southern France-Castle-Roquetaillade

Built in the 14th-century, Castle Roquetaillade has been inhabited by the same family for the past seven centuries. With its ramparts, towers, and dungeons from the Middle ages, this historical monument is considered an exquisite example of French medieval architecture. However, many Renaissance-style elements were added later. The interiors are also uniquely decorated with valuable furniture and artworks. The castle is the private property of the Roquetaillade family.

Where: Mazères, Aquitaine

When: 14th-century

Style:  Medieval/Renaissance

Open to visit: yes, daily from 10.30 am in July and August and from 3.00 pm from April to November. Open only Sundays and holidays from 3.00 pm from November to April.

Tickets: Adults – 9.5 euros;  Reduced – 6.5 euros; Children (6-18) – 6.5 euros;

Visiting the best castles in Southern France is a good way to travel back in time to an era of impressive grandeur. Adding that these monuments are located in scenic locations, surrounded by olive groves, lavender fields, and forests, your visit can only be rewarding.

 

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