Posted on 29/03/2017

#Culture #France

Exploring France's most incredible architecture

From Medieval to Romanesque, from Gothic to Baroque, from Beaux Arts to Art Nouveau, France is home to an incredible selection architecture that has developed over many hundreds of years. These fascinating villages, cities, bridges, cathedrals and chateaux have been carefully preserved over time, leaving France with some of the world's most iconic and beautiful buildings.

Eiffel Tower

The legendary iron tower was completed in 1889 for the World's Fair and has becoming one of the most iconic manmade structures in the entire world, receiving nearly two million visitors each year. Visitors can enjoy the tower from below or on any of its three levels. - ©masterlu/123RF

Mont Saint Michel

Located just over half a mile off the Normandy coast, this beautiful island has been an important pilgrimage site for many hundreds of years in France. Is castle, perched on top of the island, is surrounded by a small town which makes the monument an unforgettable sight. - ©ventdusud/123RF

Château de Chenonceau

In the heart of the Loire Valley this architectural beauty dates back as far as the 11th century to when it was once a royal residence. Now one of France's most visited chateaux, Chenonceau's famous bridge lies directly over the River Cher and extensive gardens can be found along its banks. - ©jenifoto/123RF

Arc de Triomphe

Constructed originally to celebrate Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz, the arch looks directly down the Champs Elysées to the Louvre at the other end. It is the largest arch in the world and boasts some of the best views of Paris from the top. - ©sborisov123RF

Carcassonne

This fortified town is home to some of the most beautiful architecture in the country and has been classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It boasts a selection of drawbridges, cobbled streets, castle turrets and towers and is said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty. - ©freeartist/123RF

Pont du Gard

A fascinating aqueduct structure that was built over 2,000 years ago by the Romans, the Pont du Gard is the tallest of its kind. The artistic masterpiece crosses over the River Gard, located near to Avignon and is another of France's most visited tourist spots. - ©zechal/123RF

Colmar

A small town located in the Alsace region in the north-east of France and holds a charm that is unlike anywhere else. It is popular with visitors touring the Alsatian Wine Route, as well as those who come to see its colourful half-timbered houses running along the canal bordered with flowers. - ©bbsferrari/123RF

Château de Versailles

France's most famous grand palace was inhabited by many kings of France over the course of 100 years until the monarchy was forced back to Paris. The building is of great architectural interest as each king made significant changes and additions, gradually creating the fabulous palace that we see today. - ©pryzmat/123RF

Château de Fontainebleau

Just 35 miles south of Paris stands a beautiful medieval castle which was also home to many of the country's monarchs. It is particularly well-known for its horseshoe steps at the front which were built for Henry II in the 12th century. - ©skdesign/123RF

Notre Dame de Paris

Situated on Ile de la Cité, in in between the banks of the Seine in the centre of Paris, Notre Dame is said to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic Architecture and is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. Its sculptures and stained glass date back even further to Romanesque architecture. - ©mdmworks/123RF

Château de Villandry

A beautiful, grand country house in the centre section of the Loire Valley, which is also known for its extensive gardens. It was originally constructed in the 14th century but was then rebuilt with an enormous amount of time and money in the early 20th century to create the beautiful Renaissance style that we see today. - ©jiss/123RF

Pompidou Centre

Built in the 1970's, this construction is a modern architectural marvel. Its high-tech style stands out unusually from the classic Parisian architecture with brightly coloured tubes, pipes and mechanical systems, which draw hundreds of thousands of visitors. - ©jankranendonk/123RF

Chartres Cathedral

Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, who described this architectural masterpiece as "the high point of French Gothic Art", Chartres Cathedral boasts two elaborate spires of contrasting heights and stained glass windows intact from over 800 years ago. - ©vencavolrab78/123RF

Louvre Pyramid

The Louvre museum is a spectacular architectural structure in itself, but in the middle of it is the contrasting glass pyramid, along with three smaller ones, which were built in 1989 by Chinese architect, I.M. Pei. The pyramid has created a more efficient entrance to the museum and become a famous landmark in Paris. - ©mdmworks/123RF

Château du Blois

Another beauty of the Loire Valley, the Chateau du Blois is made up of several buildings constructed over time, and was also a royal residence for French kings. It boasts a variety of architectural styles from Classic to Renaissance to Gothic over the 500 years over which it was built. - ©jiss/123RF

Place de la Bourse

Also known as Place Royale, this is without a doubt Bordeaux's most beautiful square. It has symbolised the city for centuries and is particularly marveled over architecturally due to the reflection of the grand palace onto the water named the Miroir d'eau. - ©delcreations/123RF

Palais des Papes

Located in the historical city of Avignon, this buildng is the largest Gothic palace in the whole of Europe. The construction design was the work of two of France's greatest architects, under the leadership of two popes, who created two buildings which have now merged together into one spectacular palace. - ©zechal/123RF

Château du Clos Luce

This fairly small chateau was home to Leonardo da Vinci in the 12th century and is situated in the city of Amboise. It is connected to the royal Château d'Amboise by an underground tunnel which is also another of France's architectural beauties. - ©silviacrisman/123RF

Château de Chambord

The largest and most presitgious of the French Renaissance chateaux, Chambord is one of the most recognisable sites in the country. Also in the Loire Valley, it boasts a mix of French medieval forms with Renaissance architecture and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. - ©jiss/123RF

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Designed by architect Frank Gehry in 2006, the Fondation Louis Vuitton sits as a magnificent vessel just outside of Paris in the Bois de Boulogne. It is said to "symbolise the cultural calling of France". The unique and bold building is now a space for art and culture and is becoming a new famous landmark for the French capital. - ©madrabothair/123RF