Top 10 Famous Palaces In France

When we think about palaces in France, then one of the most opulent palaces in the world surely comes to mind, right? We have included this palace in the list but there are a lot more worth checking out if you plan to visit France.

Even though some of the incredible castles that were built in France are also sometimes referred to as a palace, for example, the Château de Fontainebleau, this list only contains structures that are defined as a palace.

This means that you won’t find fortified walls, moats, or canons here but rather elaborately decorated gates. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

1. Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles can easily be described as the epitome of palaces all around the world. It’s located in the city of Versailles, about 19 kilometers (12 miles) west of the heart of Paris, and the structure and its gardens are one of the most popular tourist attractions in France.

What started as a simple hunting lodge was continuously expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries, most notably by King Louis XIV. He even moved his official seat here in 1682 which turned the palace into the most important building in France as well. You have to see the extravagance to believe it.

Famous Palaces in France versailles
Part of the enormous Palace of Versailles / Wiki Commons

2. Luxembourg Palace

Luxembourg Palace is another royal palace located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, just south of the historical heart of the city. It predates the palace of Versailles as it was mostly completed between 1615 and 1635, a time in which it became the residence of Queen regent Marie de Medici (1575-1642).

The palace was seriously expanded in the 19th century and has served a wide variety of purposes for the French Government, including the seat of the upper houses. The palace resembles the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy, and together with the Jardin de Luxembourg is a popular tourist attraction in Paris as well.

Palais du Luxembourg Paris
Luxembourg Palace and gardens / Olivier Bruchez / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

3. Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy

Before the kings ruled over France, the Dukes of Burgundy were in charge. One of their best-preserved residences is called the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, an enormous structure located in the French city of Dijon in the northeastern part of France.

The oldest parts of this famous palace in France dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries and were constructed in the Gothic architectural style. Most of the visible elements of the palace today were built in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Neoclassical style. Today, the palace serves as the City Hall and houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Dijon.

Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy
Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy / Ketounette / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

4. Palais-Royal

The Palais-Royal was originally called the Palais-Cardinal, a reference to the man who commissioned its construction, Cardinal Richelieu, in the early 17th century. It eventually became royal property and was once owned by the Duke of Orléans who received it as a gift from his older brother, King Louis XIV.

The former royal palace is located in the historical heart of Paris in the 1st arrondissement of the city. It’s another former royal palace that was transformed into a government building. Today, it serves as the seat of the Ministry of Culture, the Conseil d’État, and the Constitutional Council.

Palais Royal Paris
Palais-Royal in Paris / Zairon / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

5. Palais du Rhin

Even though the Palais du Rhin is located in the French city of Strasbourg, it was constructed during the 19th century, a time that the region was part of Prussia. It’s located in the German quarter of the city and located on the amazing Place de la République, formerly known as the “Kasierplatz.”

The palace was constructed following the concussion of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, a period that the region was annexed by Prussia. It was therefore built in the late 19th century to serve as the official residence of the Kaiser of Prussia. Today, it houses the offices of the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles of Alsace.

Palais du Rhin Strasbourg
Palais du Rhin / Chabe01 / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

6. Palais de la Bourse

The Palais de la Bourse is also sometimes referred to as the Palais du Commerce and is located in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon, the second-most populous city of France. The building never served as a royal palace and was only built during the 19th century.

It remarkably still serves the main purpose it was built for as it houses the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Lyon. It was used for a wide variety of other things as well throughout its history, including as a museum and office building for several companies.

Palais de la Bourse Lyon
Palais de la Bourse / Andrzej Otrębski / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

7. Palais Rohan

The Palais Rohan is yet another famous palace in France located in the largest city of the Grand Est Region, Strasbourg. It’s located right next to the most prominent landmark in the city, Strasbourg Cathedral, and was completed between 1730 and 1742.

The structure is considered to be the epitome of French Baroque architecture and has been used multiple times as the venue for special occasions for French monarchs. Today, it houses the 3 most important museums in the city, the Archaeological Museum (Musée archéologique, basement), the Museum of Decorative Arts (Musée des arts décoratifs, ground floor), and the Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des beaux-arts.

Palais Rohan Strasbourg
Palais ROhan / Aloïs Peiffer / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

8. Palace of Tau

The Palace of Tau is another one of the famous palaces in France that is located next to an important religious structure, in this case, the Cathedral of Reims. It was originally constructed to serve as the palace of the Archbishop of Reims between 1498 and 1509.

The freshly coronated Kings of France, an event that happened in Reims Cathedral since the Middle Ages, stayed here as well. The oldest part of the structure is a chapel that dates back to 1207 and the palace was completely redesigned in the baroque architectural style between 1671 and 1710.

Palace of Tau Reims Cathedral
Palace of Tau / Ludovic Péron / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

9. Palais de la Légion d’Honneur

Even though the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur is referred to as a palace, it was originally built as the “Hôtel de Salm” between 1782 and 1787. It’s located on the Left Bank of the River Seine in the 7th arrondissement of Paris and houses the Musée de la Légion d’honneur (“Museum of the Legion of Honour”).

It also houses the headquarters of the Légion d’honneur which is considered to be the highest French order of merit. It has been an influential building as well because a three-quarters replica was built in San Francisco which is now a department of the Museum of Fine Arts in the city.

Palais de la Légion d'Honneur
Palais de la Légion d’Honneur / Wiki Commons

10. Élysée Palace

The Élysée Palace serves as the official residence of the President of the French Republic and is located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. This is not too far away from the Champs-Élysées, the most famous avenue in the city.

The palace was completed in the year 1722 and originally served as the residence of a nobleman and army officer named Louis Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne. It has been the official residence of the French president since 1848 and is also the location of the weekly meeting of the French Government, an event presided by the president himself that is referred to as the “Council of Ministers.”

Elysee Palace Paris
Élysées Palace / Remi Mathis / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en