Halfway between the world-famous Château de Versailles and the castles of the Loire Valley, the beautiful castles of Eure et Loir stand as vivid reminders of the region’s glorious past. These spectacular buildings allow visitors to explore beautiful outdoor spaces and lush scenery while delving deep into France’s history and heritage… These majestic former residences now open to the public are sure to spark the imagination!
Explore the castles of the “Kings' Favourites”!
The “Vallée des Favorites” is the nickname given to a valley in Eure et Loir boasting some beautiful castles built for women. And not just any women: for the king’s favorite mistresses! Well yes, having a mistress was expected of the king and it was a privilege which granted the lady in question direct access to the monarch and generally to her own property, a chateau of course.
If walls could speak, this castle would tell of the exciting fairy tale of Françoise d’Aubigné, the governess of the children of King Louis XIV who eventually ended up marrying him!
How incredible are the gardens, magnificently laid out in a French style?
It is such a pleasure to wander around in the castle park, hand in hand with your lover on a romantic stroll, admiring the ingenious aqueduct commissioned by Louis XIV to supply water to the Château de Versailles. A project that was never completed.
A castle fit for a Queen!
In April, visit the Castle of Maintenon at the most colourful time of year.
These are the “Tulipiades”, wherein special displays of more than 15 000 vibrant "Violet Sky" tulips bloom in an exciting range of hues.
Stroll through the gardens and immerse yourself in the spectacular displays of brightly coloured blooms.
Feel uplifted by these purple tulips proudly standing at attention, providing a visual feast of spring colours! By the way, just like the rose, the tulip symbolizes love and purple is linked to royalty... Madame de Maintenon would have been absolutely delighted!
If exploring castles and historic houses is your perfect way to spend a day, then Eure et Loir is a great place to visit in France!
Another famous woman, another architectural gem: the Château d’Anet was the residence of Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of King Henry II and a rival of Catherine de Medici. In order to build her dream castle, she commissioned the greatest artists of the Renaissance to create a cutting-edge style, combining classical design (check out the staircase!) and atypical features, notably the Greek cross Chapel Royal, a masterpiece of originality with its checkerboard trompe l'oeil!
Across the street, the interactive Renaissance Interpretation Center offers a fascinating journey through this historical period in France. It provides visitors with immersive installations such as a 360-degree film, a model castle, animated movies and digital displays.
A captivating place to learn about the culture, style of art and architecture developed during a period which marks the transition from the Middle Ages to modern times.
A few kilometers away, more heritage is to be found at the site of the former fortress of the Counts of Dreux. A site which overlooks the city, one find here the crypt of the Royal Chapel of Saint Louis, a Neo-gothic building which houses the tombs of the royal family of Bourbon-Orléans. This crypt also offers an exceptional set of recumbents (sculptures of figures lying down which is an ancient tradition) Look up and admire the majestic domed roof, a visual wonder that often steals the show!
Grandeur and decadence often go hand in hand, as the Château de la Ferté Vidame reveals. Time has taken its toll on this ancient building which has been reduced to a crumbling structure standing in the middle of 60-hectare French-style landscaped gardens. Haunting and beautiful, this ruined site offers visitors the chance to see history in a raw, dramatic way!
Long before this castle was dismantled during the Revolution, Louis de Rouvroy, who later became the Duc de Saint-Simon fled here for his safety and found the inspiration to write his famous memoirs, a French literature classic in 20 volumes!
If you are interested in finding out more about the duke and his work, the museum space of the nearby Maison Saint Simon is dedicated to his life and work.
It gives visitors great insight into daily life at the court of Louis XIV in Versailles.
Discover 300 years of history and architecture with a fascinating visit to the Royal Military College in Thiron Gardais, a heritage building saved by a famous ambassador of French cultural heritage going by the name of Stéphane Bern. Thanks to this French journalist and television host, the building was preserved, rehabilitated and reopened to the public. Highlights include old 17th century classrooms and a collection of everyday objects from that time. Priceless!
Just like the former students of the college, enjoy a little stroll in the beautiful gardens after your visit!
Dive into the Middle Ages!
The castle is one of the most iconic features of medieval folklore. In a world of dungeons, towers, moats and drawbridges, we imagine princesses, knights, horses and even the occasional dragon. Let’s head out to discover the medieval castles of Eure et Loir and learn a little bit more about the county’s impressive past.
Lower the drawbridge!
If you ask kids to draw a castle, chances are they’ll draw a fortress like the castle of Villebon. Former residence of the Duke of Sully, this fascinating castle sits in the centre of a body of water, surrounded by an impressive moat. The more intimidating the better, so it is also perfectly castellated and pierced with arrow slits for more accurate aim.
Châteaudun is the first castle you come across on the road from Paris to the Loire Valley via Chartres. No crenellated tower here but rather an impressive keep that would have surely impressed Joan of Arc! Its owner was Jean Dunois, bastard son of the duke of Orléans and companion-in-arms to Joan of Arc during the most dramatic part of the Hundred Years War.
The architecture is a melting pot of styles and influences, from medieval to gothic to renaissance and its lush gardens feature more than 150 varieties of edible and medicinal plants!
The skyline of the valley of the Huisne just wouldn’t be the same without the Counts of the Perche and its mighty fortifications (Château des Comtes du Perche) which have towered above it since the 11th century. A must-see attraction for visitors to Nogent le Rotrou!
The splendid building also houses the Museum of the History of the Perche which offers a journey back in time! Will you be brave enough to visit with the virtual reality headset on?
In Chartres, you won’t stumble upon some sort of royal dwelling but you can explore and marvel at the awe-inspiring Gothic cathedral! (Find out more)
Nothing quite sparks our imagination likea majestic castle!
Once upon time… The Château de MaintenonEure Valley
Jump in your horse-drawn carriage and head for the Court of the Sun King!Read more
Château de MaintenonMAINTENON
Enter the "secret gardens" of the Sun King. Discover the furnished home of Madame de Maintenon, whose eternal youth charmed Louis XIV the all-powerful.Read more
A jewel of French Renaissance architecture built by Philippe l'Orme, humanist and architect of Henri II. The castle of Diane of Poitiers, it is a masterpiece.Read more
Chapelle Royale Saint-LouisDREUX
A spectacular testimony to 19th century art! The neo-gothic chapel, the stained glass windows and recumbent statues inside are works by the greatest artists from that era: Delacroix, Millet, Ingres, Lenoir, Mercié, Vernet and many others.Read more
Parc du château de la Ferté-VidameLA FERTE-VIDAME
Experience the splendour of the Enlightenment! 60-hectare formal park with remains. It was here that Saint Simon retired to write the majority of his memoirs.Read more
Maison Saint-SimonLA FERTE-VIDAME
It was on his estate of La Ferté-Vidame that Saint Simon, the famous historiographer of Louis XIV, wrote his memoires. The museum displays personal documents and accounts of the illustrious character.Read more
Collège Royal et Militaire de Thiron-GardaisTHIRON-GARDAIS
In the old classrooms you can discover a rare collection of objects and documents retracing the almost 1000 year-old history of the Abbaye de Tiron, the establishment of the college and the creation of twelve French Royal and military colleges.Read more
Château de VillebonVILLEBON
Tall towers, deep moats, a drawbridge… 7 centuries of French history at the Château de Villebon, a fairytale castle sure to enchant your kids.Read more
Château de ChâteaudunCHATEAUDUN
Vertiginous medieval tower 60 metres tall, overlooking the Loir river. A lord's lodge in the pure flamboyant gothic style built by a companion of Joan of Ark. Discovery of medieval cuisine.Read more
Musée de l’histoire du PercheNOGENT-LE-ROTROU
In le Perche, a medieval fortress watches over the town. Around the rectangular 11th century dungeon, there is a Renaissance dwelling which houses an ethnographic and local history museum, as well as temporary exhibitions, slide shows, guided visits ...Read more