Dourdan and its donjon in the Essonne


Well lets talk about another area close to Paris that needs more introduction from visitors.  Today I will be talking about Dourdan, a city in the department of the Essonne ,no 91 in the region of Ile de France ,just south of Paris.

It is a very old city inhabited from the Celts tribes , before the Roman era.  It is part of the Frankish kingdom since the 6C; it is said that the first church was done so by Bertrade de Laon, the mother of Charlemagne!

The best way is by car along the A10 with interchange,no 10 at Longvilliers , and on the department road D838  from Etampes to Rambouillet and the road D836 from Versailles passes thru it.  Viamichelin can help you with the route planning at, parking is best on the street near the marché or market .  You can reach here by the line RER C 4 from Paris, and the TER centre trains out of Paris Gare d’Austerlitz , the gare is in city center, and the TER centre webpage is  ,also as part of the ile de France region you can use train schedules on the Transilien webpage here . A network of regional buses connects with Dourdan such as the line 91.02 of the company Albatrans, webpage 91.03, the 91.07 from Etampes, and the lines 03 and 29 of the company Veolia Transport Rambouillet from Rambouillet, webpage

You can see the church of St Germain d’Auxerre (also known as St Germain l’Auxerrois like in Paris), modeled after that of Chartres, built from 1150AD  where you can see the relics of ST Felice every june 9th ,and the organ built in 1870 by Goyardin, there is bronze bell from 1599AD , the second bell is named Germaine and built in 1778AD . There is a vault in the sacristy from 1733AD and a bench from about the same time. The webpage of the diocese shows terrific pictures than I,,582 . The Chateau de Dourdan,12C on the ruins of another one from the 10C, it was a hunting site of king Louis VII.  Saint Louis stayed here and bequest it to his mother Blanche de Castille, then his wife Marguerite de Provence. In the 1220-1222 king Philippe Auguste had a new castle fort built. It went thru several war events and the one I like was in 1611AD king Louis XIII buys it and bequest to his mother ,Marie de Medicis buys the castle and give it  in 1624 to the muskeeteers body guards ;king Louis XIV does the same and gives it to Anne of Austria; the family of Orleans turns into a prison from 1690 to 1852. It comes into the State in 1794AD after the French revolution, comes back to previous owner before finally given to the city of Dourdan in 1961. It is about 60 sq Meters with a donjon or tower of  30 meters high ( 99 ft);inside today there is a nice museum retracing its history and the city showing paintings, objects d’arts, pottery, sculptures and porcelains, it  open to the public  in 1977. No web but info at the city mayor’s office, and email contact for info is at  ,admission adults is 3€

There is a Hôtel-Dieu built in 1220AD and then rebuilt in 1766AD, now is the retirement home. As well as two towers remaining from the old ramparts from the middle ages (they were 1700 meters long then or 5610 ft), which are along the  boulevard des Alliés , and the one call  Petit-Huis  at  rue de l’Étang.

The department tourist office in English, , and the ile de France regional  tourist webpage

to stay we did not as it is close to home, but we did went to see the Hostellerie Blanche de Castille as it was very quaint, and it is wonderful. You can see a description in the Essonne dept tourist page here

Eating we did, Les Galandiéres, is a great creperie with good values and yummy food for the family anytime, located at 22 rue Haute Foulerie just behind the church St Germain d’Auxerre on a quaint old street.webpage  ,and for a delicious sweet and drink go to the bakery, boulangerie/Patisserie Launay Jacques at 18 rue St Pierre just passing the covered market.

There is a wonderful covered market or marché couvert ( also known as La halle) built in 1228 AD and rebuilt in 1836 , it is 38 meters long(125.4 ft)  and 14 meters wide(46.2 ft)  at the place gen de gaulle just at end of church in the main plaza looking across from castle museum entrance, very lively, on wednesdays and saturdays.

You will have a nice medieval feel of a town just at the doorsteps of Paris, and in a small town ambiance,superb.

Enjoy the visit, Cheers!

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