Visit the Chateau Rambouillet in Yvelines, Paris Ile de France
Unusually among the historical castles of France, Rambouillet plays a role as important now as it did in the past - it is now the summer residence for French presidents, and frequent host to heads of state from other countries.
Dating from the 14th century, at which time it was a manor house, it gained importance as an occasional royal residence, and it was here that King Francois I died in 1547.
The castle retains a medieval defensive form, with turrets in each corner of the building, although the castle has been very extensively altered during the follwoing centuries.
The extensive gardens and parkland that surround the castle were laid out during the first half of the 17th century - the castle is surrounded by 200 square kilometres of land, much of it covered by ancient forests. The garden is significantly more 'English' in style than many of the castles in the Paris region and the Loire Valley.
Towards the end of the 18th century the castle passed to the crown under Louis XVI, bought as a gift for Marie Antoinette. It's political importance continued into the 19th century - Napoleon occasionally stayed here, and his 'successor' King Charles X, abdicated at the castle.
It is from the end of the 19th century that Rambouillet has acted as the official French Presidential summer residence.
During the 20th century many important meetings and summits have been held here. General de Gaulle frequently held important receptions at the castle. More recent engagements have included the G6 meetings of leading industrialised nations, Kosovo peace agreement discussions, and state visits by Boris Yeltsin and Nelson Mandela.
Both the castle itself and the associated dairy are listed National Monuments of France.
Map showing location of Chateau Rambouillet