How and where to rent a chateau in France?

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Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting a chateau in France? The country boasts thousands of them, from the smallest manor houses to the grand palaces in Paris. Granted, visiting one is a lovely thing to do on holiday. But what if you could actually rent a chateau in France to stay in! Wouldn’t that be awesome? Close your eyes for a moment and picture yourself staying in a French chateau… 


Rent a chateau in France

Imagine it’s summer and the sun is out, you enter the gates which take you to a large garden.

Beyond it, an imposing tower-topped chateau dominates the landscape.

Step inside and it’s all about elegance and charm: high ceilings, canopy-beds, cosy fireplaces and large tables to linger over food and conversation with those you love.

The perfect setting for a French luxury holiday

Yes it is actually possible to rent a French chateau for holiday. And it’s much easier than you might think. If you are thinking of going on holiday with a few different family groups and you want to have a luxury week or two with space for everyone to relax then this is a great option.

You are spoilt for choice with locations for a chateau rental in France.

The most popular regions are the South-West of France (Périgord, Quercy, Rouergue), the Loire Valley, Normandy, Brittany and Provence.

But our favourite destination would be to rent a French chateau in Dordogne.

The best plan is to rent a chateau in France through a personalised boutique agency that is able to advise you on the perfect choice of French holiday properties you’re dreaming about. These agencies are used to working with chateau owners and can help you make sure you choose the right one for what you need and your group dynamic and also be on call should you have questions throughout your stay. It’s always good to have a buffer between you and the owners and to make sure you are being provided with the luxury holiday you were promised. 


What is a chateau?

As we’ve been talking about how to rent a chateau in France… I felt I should clarify with you what I mean by ‘château‘… You’ll probably find this interesting as ‘chateau‘ in English does not always share the same meaning as ‘château‘ in French. Let me explain first by opening the pages of our [online]dictionary! 🙂

The definition of ‘chateau’ in English

The online dictionary gives the following definition of the word ‘chateau‘ used in the English language:

noun, plural châ·teaux [sha-tohz; French shah-toh] /ʃæˈtoʊz; French ʃɑˈtoʊ/, châ·teaus.

  1. (in France) a castle or fortress.
  2. a stately residence imitating a distinctively French castle.
  3. a country estate, especially a fine one, in France or elsewhere on the Continent.
  4. (often initial capital letter) a winegrower’s estate, especially in the Bordeaux region of France: often used as part of the name of a wine.

Chateau vs. castle

So you may ask what is the difference between a chateau and a castle?

A castle refers to a large fortified building from the Middle-Ages which has many defences. The fortress was often inhabited by a nobleman or king.

In French a castle is translated by ‘un château‘. I know this sounds confusing!

Therefore to the French ‘château‘ has a broader meaning than to the British.

It can refer to:

  • a medieval fortress (= castle in English): château de Beynac, château de Castelnaud
  • a palace from the Renaissance or from the 17th-18th centuries: château de Chambord, château de Grignan, château de Lunéville. 
  • a 19th-century sumptuous country house: château de Corton André near Beaune, château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande near Bordeaux.

 

If the French feel the need to clarify what they have in mind (that is a medieval fortress – our English ‘castle‘), they tend to specify ‘un château-fort‘. For example: le château-fort du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, le château-fort des Baux-de-Provence…).

What about the Palace of Versailles?

To add to the confusion, the Palace of Versailles is not considered a ‘palais‘ in French. It is a ‘château‘!!

The title of palace is used to designate the building of a seat of power located within a city.

Despite its allure, the château de Versailles is ‘a castle‘ because at the time of its construction under the reign of king Louis XIV, it was situated in the countryside.

In Paris, the medieval castle of the Louvre became a palais in the 14th century under Charles V. Situated in the city of Paris, the kings of France used it as their main Paris residence.

Conclusion – to make things simple!

  • ?? un château = a building (medieval or not) always rural!
  • ?? un palais = a grand official residence by royalty always urban!

 

  • ?? a castle = a fortified building built in the Middle-Ages located anywhere!
  • ?? a palace = a grand official residence by royalty or bishops urban or rural!

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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