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Paris offers all the attractions of a modern metropolis, but it can also be an enchanting experience for a traveler weary of the city’s hustle and bustle to explore the majestic French countryside. A drive or railway trip through the country will allow you to experience all that France has to offer, and historic castles are some of the most popular attractions outside the capital. With dozens of these medieval structures still standing, a vacation in France can also be a trip to the distant past.

Although these castles were originally designed for warfare rather than aesthetics, their ruins are often beautiful focal points in the rolling landscape. Many have been destroyed in war or fallen into disrepair, but there are multiple well-preserved chateaux that provide a window into a bygone world. The Castle of the Dukes of Anjou in Angers is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens shaped into an intricate labyrinth. Brittany is home to many castles, such as Fougères Castle with its moat and stone bridge and the towering Josselin Castle.

The Chateau de Valençay in Centre dates from slightly more recent times, and features several unique domes. It is one of some 40,000 chateaux throughout the country. Wherever you find yourself, chances are there is sure to be a chateau nearby to delight lovers of history and architecture. From medieval to gothic to baroque, European architectural styles are well represented by these beautiful buildings.

Whatever historical period takes your fancy, explore the past with France.com to find the package that gets you where you want to go.