Renting a chateau in France is not the same thing as renting a castle in Scotland or renting a castello in Italy. And the difference is not only geographical. Although, along with castillo in Spain, the words are usually used as translations for each other, and are derived from the same Latin root, they refer to different types of property altogether.
Whereas an English castle is a very specific type of building, originally a fortified residence for a feudal lord, usually substantial in size and instantly recognisable by its (usually) crenellated towers, a French chateau is not simply a castle in France. Although French chateau is the literal translation for English castle, the term is in fact applied far more widely, and can in practice mean any old or grand country house. In French, the specific term chateau fort is used for a castle of the medieval, fortified kind. What distinguishes a French chateau is that it is a grand residence in the countryside as opposed to a town, the word palais standing for its urban equivalent. Again, this differs from English in that a palace in England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland is just as likely to be found in the countryside.
As far as someone looking for a holiday rental is concerned, the significant difference is less likely to be social, historical or architectural, interesting though those aspects are, but one of price. A bona fide castle for rent in England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland is likely to cost upwards of twenty thousand pounds for a week’s exclusive use, whereas you can hire a chateau in France for as little as 3,000 euros per week, although it is likely to be what would be called in England a country house or even a farmhouse.
Since medieval castles were originally the stronghold of the local lord, their size would reflect his power and the extent of his authority, from small buildings that amount to little more than fortified farmsteads, to great fortress bastions that dominate the country for miles around. Just as these lords were evenly distributed all over the British Isles and France, so too were the seats and symbols of their power. Yet very few of these genuinely medieval buildings survive, and the vast majority of castles, chateaux and country houses for renting date from the 17th and 18th centuries, and occasionally even later.
Regarding the location of these later chateaux and country houses, a marked difference evolved in practice between France on the one hand and England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland on the other. In the latter, the grand country…