1. Mont Saint Michel
Looking for the perfect fairy tale ending to your family train trip? Mont Saint Michel will do just the trick! Simply get the train to Pontorson and then a bus to this magical island. It exudes medieval history and is set in a breathtakingly beautiful bay — the stuff dreams are made of. Pretending to be knights, lords and ladies, your children will be full of excitement, even at the thought of crossing the footbridge to this majestic castle, an 8th-century abbey and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They will also be thrilled to hear the castle is surrounded by water and often quicksand! To make that day just that little bit more special, you can even hire a private horse-drawn cart to take you across the bridge. After learning about all of that medieval history, why not finish the day by eating in one of the crêperies on the island – a meal fit for your little king or queen! One thing is for certain, this will be a day out to remember!
Le Mont-Saint-Michel, 50170, France
Versailles is one of the most impressive places you can visit in France, for children and adults alike. Simply get the RER train from Paris Austerlitz and you’ll be plunged into a royal universe. Understandably, it’s very popular, so make sure you book your tickets in advance and take your children early in the day, at 9:00 or later or in the afternoon at 16:30, as the crowds can be a royal pain! A great idea is to hire bikes and explore the vast grounds full of mythical creatures and gilded fountains – enough to spark any child’s imagination. Children will also particularly enjoy the hall of mirrors and the audio guide, which is perfect for kids over the age of 8 and really helps bring the palatial châteaux to life. Tours of the stables and shows by the Equestrian Academy are bound to impress, and you can download a games booklet or ask for one at the information desk to keep your little ones’ inquisitive minds busy.
Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
3. Château de Chambord
The Loire Valley reigns supreme when it comes to castles, and this is one of the best in the region. You can buy a book of castle or nature riddles from the ticket office, which will take you around the main points of the castle on a journey of discovery with a special reward in store if your little one can solve the puzzles! After exploring the 60 rooms in the castle, you can go on a nature reserve safari in an all-terrain vehicle to spot wild boar and deer accompanied by a forest guide – perfect for nature-loving children. You can also hire bikes, Surrey bikes, boats, 4x4s or ride horses on the grounds. Your little ones will also find learning fun by watching one of the incredible medieval jousting shows. Simply get the train to Blois and then a bus from the train station and let the magic begin!
Château, 41250 Chambord, France
4. Château de Fougères
One of the largest fortresses in Europe, this 11th-century castle in Brittany plunges your family into the heart of medieval history. A walk around the ramparts and climbing the four towers with magnificent views is a real must. Children will enjoy learning about the great historical events of the medieval period as they explore, such as the mysterious legend of the castle’s fairy, Melusine, who the most impressive tower is named after. Many exciting yet educational events take place during summer, such as circus performers, exhibitions, medieval banquets, concerts, live shows and train rides, and the charming town of Fougères itself is also worth a visit, with the oldest belfry in Europe and its medieval half-timber houses. Take a 20-minute stroll through the town to reach the château.
Place Pierre Symon, 35300 Fougères, France
5. Château de Chantilly
Help your children discover the hidden treasures of this château in an interesting way by getting them ‘the puzzle of the château’ hour-long audio guide puzzle. This is a fun way to explore the Duke of Aumale’s masterpieces for children aged 6 and over. You can also download the children’s exhibition booklet for children aged between 6 and 12, which is full of games to play. An exciting way to explore the Chantilly castle gardens is on the mini train or by hiring a golf buggy and the castle also has the largest horse stables in Europe with equestrian shows to amaze children of all ages. This beautiful castle, situated just outside Paris, is the perfect day out for adults and children alike! Simply hop on the train to Chantilly from Paris and enjoy a lovely 30-minute stroll through the park.
Château de Chantilly, 60500 Chantilly, France
Overall, France has some incredible châteaux accessible by train, perfect for fun-filled educational holidays for all the family!