With its striking white stone façade and attractive jumble of crenellated towers and pointed turrets, the majestic Chateau de Pierrefonds has all the presence of a fairy tale castle, set against the equally enchanting backdrop of the Compiègne forest. Originally built in the 15th-century by Philippe d'Orléans, the castle was torn down by Louis XIII in the 17th century, then rebuilt by celebrated architect Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th-century as an imperial residence for Napoleon III.
In recent years the castle has also made a name for itself as a filming location for several movies and TV shows, most notably Les Visiteurs, The Man in the Iron Mask and hit BBC series Merlin. Visitors can explore the Great Courtyard, the lavish state rooms, the chapel and the keep, as well as following the parapet-walk and walking the drawbridge.
Chateau de Pierrefonds is located in Ile-de-France, around 80km northeast of Paris, and is open May-Aug daily from 9.30am-6pm and Sept-April daily except Mon from 10am-1pm and 2-5.30pm. Adult admission at the time of writing is €7.50.