Behind the gates of the rue de Paris is the castle of Champs-sur-Marne, a very fine example of a pleasure house (small houses located in the countryside and used for retreats). Built in 1703 for the financier of Louis XIV, Paul Poisson de Bourvallais, the castle has had many owners during its history including the Marquise de Pompadour, famous writers Voltaire, Chateaubriand and Proust. Visit of a relatively unknown castle, perfect for a rainy day as well as a beautiful summer day.
The castle of Champs-sur-Marne was restored between 2006 and 2013. It is today a national domain managed by the Center des monuments nationaux. It was used as movie set for Marie-Antoinette by Sofia Coppola.
The interior: a surprising decor
The interior has changed a lot through its many owners. What really surprised me was to see so many styles: wood paneling, marble, paintings of palm trees and peacocks but also chinoiserie. Chinoiserie was a decor in vogue in the 18th century expressing the taste for ornamental far east artwork. And you can see some in most rooms!
In 1935, the castle became an official residence of the Presidency of the Republic: during the presidency of General de Gaulle, foreign heads of state stayed there.
The Chinese salon
This room is one of the most remarkable of the castle. The wood painting represents an imaginary of the Far East. The chairs illustrate the fables of Jean de La Fontaine (a French fabulist and one of the most read poets of the 17th century).
Located on the first floor, the living room offers an exceptional view of the gardens. Pillars, windows and mirrors make up this attractive room which served as a music room in the 19th century.
The grand bedchamber
This room was reserved for the king or important guests. Note the Rocaille style woodwork, with a magnificent peacock above the mirror.
Of the 600 hectares of agricultural land, gardens and forest, only 85 hectars remains today. The gardens are a fine example of the evolution of styles: their appearance has changed a lot over time and its successive owners. It was at the end of the 19th century that the gardens came back to a more classic style. Although I visited the castle in winter, it didn’t stop me from enjoying my walk in the park.
The grounds are free
31, rue de Paris
The Champs-sur-Marne castle is very close to Paris. It takes about 40 minutes from the city center. Get off at the RER A stop Noisiel. Then, you can either walk 20 minutes to the castle, or take the bus 220 towards Bry-sur-Marne RER which drops you off next to the chateau (Champs Mairie stop).
Check the opening times on the official website