A Memorable Holiday Season at French Castles


Photo: Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Paris is a special place to visit all year round, yet as many Parisians will tell you, France is defined by the countryside, not its capital city. The holiday season is an exceptional moment to discover the countryside around Paris as some of the most exceptional châteaux celebrate the holidays. Inside these architectural marvels and outside in the gardens, decorative lights, theatrical performances, and projections evoke Christmas through the centuries, enchanting young and old alike. Create a memorable experience for the entire family by visiting these castles around Paris this holiday season.

Photo: Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte 

The inspiration for Versailles, this exquisite 17th-century castle southeast of Paris plays host to one of the best holiday programs in the region. Normally closed over winter, the château opens its doors, and garden gates, for the holiday season from November 23rd, 2019 to January 5th, 2020. The grand interiors will feature a Christmas tree with chocolate decorations by Le Comptoir du Cacao and a large gilded nativity scene which took the castle’s decorators six months to create. Visitors will also be encouraged to tour the castle’s impressive gardens, designed by famed landscape architect André Le Nôtre, decked out in thousands of lights and from where you can watch a monumental 3D light show projected on the castle’s facade for eight minutes every half hour from 5:30 to 7pm. There will be surprise treats for children, free costume rentals during the week until December 21st and horse-drawn-carriage rides for an additional fee. Guests can also drop off children’s book at the stall run by the Red Cross, who will  be distributing them to underprivileged children in the area. See more information on our guided tours to Vaux le Vicomte here.

Château de Chantilly

A castle traversing the ages, part of the elegant gardens of the Château de Chantilly were also designed by André Le Nôtre. In addition to the building’s historic importance, it is home to one of the most important collections of Old Master paintings in Europe. This gives the castle added appeal in winter when the weather might dissuade visitors from fully exploring its extensive gardens and forests. Until January 5th, 2020, the grounds will be decorated in holiday lights, there will be food stands serving festive treats and the castle’s famous Grandes Écuries stables will be presenting a special holiday themed horse show.  You can learn more about their holiday program here and we can also arrange excursions to Chantilly over the holidays.

Restored Theater – Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau

For centuries, the Chateau de Fontainebleau was a favorite royal and Imperial residence. In recent years the castle has been undergoing various important restoration projects, two of which have been completed this year. The Galerie des Cerfs has just been entirely cleaned and the jewel-box like 19th century theater is now reopened after a 12-year restoration, both can be visited on designated guided tours arranged at the castle. From December 22nd, 2019 to January 4th, 2020 young visitors can enjoy the festive spirit by attending 45-minute performances of French fairy tales, “Les Fables de Maître Jean”. These will take place daily at 2pm and 4pm. There will also be a guided tour for children entitled “Les Princesses Venues du Froid,” inspired by two French queens from “cold countries” whose weddings took place at the castle. More details on the castle’s programs here.

Le Grand Revillon – Château de Champs-sur-Marne

Château de Champs-sur-Marne

This lesser known chateau located east of Paris is one of the greatest French castles of the 18th century. The castle is often associated with two of its prominent female residents: the princesse de Conti, the natural daughter of King Louis XIV, and Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV.  The castle’s holiday holiday show “Le Grand Reveillon” evokes the nineteenth century owners and the Belle Epoque, a French version of Downton Abbey!  The show features 1,000 actors, dancers, singers and volunteers held Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays November 22 through December 15th. If you can’t attend the special performances, the castle is also hosting French fairy tale readings and special festive season themed tours from December 26th to 30th. More on these at this link.

Picturesque Voyages Holiday Season Discount!

Are you visiting Paris over the holidays? Want to indulge friends or family planning to travel  to Paris in 2020? A Picturesque Voyages Tour gift certificate could be the perfect gift. Plus, if you order any tour before March 1, 2020, we are offering 10% off regular tour prices. Contact us here for details. 

Or if you’re looking for some French themed holiday gift ideas, see our post on unique gift items inspired by gardens.

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