Château ou palais?

ColinC1Kwiziq community member

Château ou palais?

If he lives in a magnificent palace, why is the translation not 'magnifique palais' as opposed to the "correct" version 'magnifique château'? I suppose it's because it's "Le Château de Versailles"… but when is it appropriate to use "palais" literally?

Asked 5 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Colin,

Traditionally, a ‘palais’ would be an urban edifice whereas a ‘château’,  a rural one. So you would talk about, Le palais du Louvre, Le château de Blois etc ...

Nowadays, it seems to be used more loosely.

I am from Versailles myself and I have heard both used in relation to its palace but at the time of Louis XIV , Versailles was very rural and the château was built from a hunting lodge.

There is another word -

Château fort which is  a medieval fortress with a moat , drawbridge etc.

Hope this helps!

PaulC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

It’s interesting. I got it wrong too. Probably like most people, I thought that a “château” could be translated as a castle and a “palais” as a palace,  but this is not at all the case. There is an article in Wikipedia which, to summarise as briefly as possible, describes a “château” as a country manor, a “château fort” as a castle, and a “palais” as a grand house in a city. Versailles was built in the countryside, so the French call it the Château de Versailles, and it doesn’t look like a castle to us, so we call it the Versailles Palace.

Château ou palais?

If he lives in a magnificent palace, why is the translation not 'magnifique palais' as opposed to the "correct" version 'magnifique château'? I suppose it's because it's "Le Château de Versailles"… but when is it appropriate to use "palais" literally?

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