« I have built such beautiful castles that the ruins would be enough for me » - Jules Renard
Dozens of stunning châteaux and fortresses - some ruined, some restored, some a combination of both - are all a remarkable remnant of the highs and lows of a country with a 1,000 year history of fighting off invaders or civil war, before emerging into the proud and successful nation of today which attracts almost 100 million tourists every year.
Historic French houses are vital in preserving historical and cultural memory, and actively embrace indulging in the past. From the Monte Cristo Castle - once home of Alexandre Dumas - to Leonardo da Vinci’s pad at Clos Lucé, their legacy is celebrated through museums set amongst beautiful surroundings.
Some stand lording over diminutive towns, such as the mediaeval fortress of Château d’Amboise, others are tucked away and hidden inside tiny picturesque towns like the Palace d’Isle in Annecy.
Their gardens are equally as beautiful, a well-groomed manifestation of the grandeur and success that many manor houses once knew which has now been revived in the age of travel.
Whether it be a defunct stone fortress high up on a rocky outcrop or a newly-renovated manor house filled with fine art, the historic houses of France are a near-endless trail through 1,000 years of history, culture, war and peace.