France is renowned for its châteaux, grand estates and stately homes, often converted from older medieval structures. In the Middle Ages, castles were designed for war, not aesthetics or pleasure. Medieval castles are massive, with towers, battlements, bastions, embrasures, gates or barbicans, drawbridges, a keep, as well as a moat if the castle is on flat ground.
Owing to their military function many medieval castles have been destroyed in wars, or abandoned once their usage had become superfluous. This page gathers photos of the best preserved and most beautiful castles of France.