Close to Paris, the Château de Maisons – Maisons-Laffitte castle, is a masterpiece of 17th century classical French architecture. It is located in Maisons-Laffitte in the Yvelines department and easily accessible by RER from Paris. The castle is one of the most beautiful and luxurious residences in Ile-de-France and is not very well known. I pretty much had the place to myself.
René de Longueil, president of the Parliament of Paris, commissioned the architect François Mansart in 1640 to build a new castle on his family land. The castle was inaugurated in 1651 with a great feast offered to Anne of Austria and her son, the young Louis XIV. The Sun King would later hire the architect’s grandnephew, Jules Hardouin Mansart, for his Versailles construction site.
It used to be the main entrance to the castle. I thought it was the most beautiful room. The chateau was recently renovated: the white walls and ceiling bring out the tiled floor. it reminded me the ground floor of Versailles.
The four eagles in the corners play on the name of the architect’s family name, Longueil, “long eye” and the reputation of raptors, appreciated for their eyesight.
The royal apartment
The Italian style apartment has an impressive ballroom which was also used for concerts. It is overlooked by a balcony where the musicians sat.
The mirror cabinet
Its floor is covered with bone and tin flower designs. A room that the visitor can only appreciate from the distance, not to damage its beautiful floor.
The gardens are not very large. This is an opportunity to appreciate the architecture of the castle: the classical facades is perfectly symmetrical with a central building and wings on each side.
During my visit to Maisons-Laffitte castle, an exhibition “Fantaisies pour une palais”, “palace fantasies” was held in the basement. A little too much for my taste!
2, avenue Carnot
The Maisons-Laffitte castle is very close to Paris: it is located about 10 minutes from Maisons-Laffitte train station and accessible by RER A.
Check on the castle website for up-to-date information.
Please note that the castle is closed during lunch hours. The visit takes from 40min to 1h to visit, grounds included.