How about those other Royal towns of the Ïle de France region!

Ok , let me tell you about the Royal towns of the region of île de France, the one around Paris and Versailles etc. Some of these are very well known towns and others much less; but they are all wonderful towns visited umpteen times by yours truly. They deserve more folks to come and visit them, you will be pleasantly surprise.

The first one I like to tell you about is Rambouillet in my old department 78, Yvelines. It is about 45 kms from Paris and the road N10 takes you there easy or the train from Montparnasse in Paris.  The town is mentioned as far back as 768AD. However, it is best known for the residence since purchase a mansion castle there by king Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette ordered built a milking farm. However, it last not that long as the French revolution came around in 1789. Napoleon I in 1809 made restored the Castle where earlier king François Ier came to hunt and died here in 1547 on a tower now bearing his name. Napoléon III gets the train connection in 1849.  The castle was built between 1368 and 1384!  Before in 1815 Napoleon Ier passed his last nights in France before exile in Sainte Hélène and by 1830 the last king of France and younger brother of Louis XVI, Charles X escape from the Paris event of the Trois Glorieuses to arrived at Rambouillet castle , and later here he abdicated. The President Félix Faure makes the castle his summer residence in 1896. Until the end of 2009, it was the residence of the President of the French Republic . You have here the Palais du Roi de Rome built in 1784 on orders of king Louis XVI as well to served as the government seat; the town now uses as a cultural center. You can see the Bergerie Nationale built in 1786 by king Louis XVI and now the museum of the lamb or musée du mouton. The  monument du Souvenir et de la reconnaissance, aka as the American monument or the American Eagle Monument by the old American military that participated in the town’s liberation in August 1944 was done outside of town on the route de Gazeran,in memory of the American soldiers fallen here in August 1944, the monument was unveiled  in 1947. One of my family fondest moment here was visiting the Rambolitran museum on train models which opened in 1984 showing the history of railroad from its origin to our days, and also toys and an reconstructed toys store from the 1930’s. More on Rambouillet on my previous post here: https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/1258

Rambouillet

Fontainebleau is in Seine-et-Marne dept 77, a wonderful castle spanning 34 monarchs and the almost all history of France. Paris here is from the gare de Lyon to the station that is actually in the town of Avon or the A6 road. Fontainebleau was just a village until 1528, when king François I returning from prison in Spain after losing the battle of Pavie in 1525 decided to built a castle here inspired by the Italian palaces. The rest as we say is French history, and the world. Other than the magnificent castle propery you can see here many mansions or hotel particulieres. There is also, the musée Napoléonien d’Art et d’Histoire Militaire that in 8 rooms with weapons and uniforms going back to the 16C, the third most important museum in France for the subject display. Some of the works here were given directly by the Imperatrice Eugénie (Montijo of Belmonte, Castilla la Mancha Spain). There is ,also the musée des Arts Figuratifs with a collection of contemporary works by several painters; The town is an important center of the horse, housing the prestigious Centre sportif d’équitation militaire (CSEM) housed in the old stables of the castle, trained the mounted officers for competition. As well there is the Hippodrome de Fontainableau de la Solle . It is here at Bois le Roi  in Fontainebleau that in 1776 was held the first horse race on the English style in France. The first test was opened by king Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette of Austria; and the brother count of Artois (later king Louis XVIII) had his horse run in the race. more on wonderful Fontainebleau here on my previous posts!

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/3032

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/10916

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/10252

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/476

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/2842

Fontainebleau

I take you now even closer to my old home , this is a nice town compact on things to see but really nice and easy connection to Paris from gare Saint Lazare or the RER A trains. This is Poissy. One of the earliest cities of France, since 1200. It is old, main site of the Pincerais under the Merovingians kings and one of the oldest royal towns of France. Here, kings Louis IX (Saint Louis) and Philippe III were born ; before been overpassed in the 15C by Saint Germain en Laye. The roads A13,A14, D30, N13 D190 all passed and bypassed the town. A city always in the history books to modern times and a big crossroad of railways as well. You have things to see here such as  The Collegiale Church of Notre Dame (St Louis was baptized here ) a roman Church style from the 12C; the old bridge of Poissy first built in the 12C destroyed by English bombings in 1944; was a bridge of 410 meters long and 24 arches , now only three remain linking the left bank of the Seine river to an isle in the middle of the Seine river; it has now been replaced by a new bridge just 300 meters next to it. The prairie Porterie is what is left of the old abbey of the Dominicans where the colloquial of Poissy was held, been founded by king Philippe le Bel in the 13C and destroyed in the 18C including the priory Church of Saint Louis. It is now housing the museum of toys or musée du jouet (very nice indeed) . The city hall or Hôtel de Ville is the old Cistercian convent dating from 1620  that was changed to a school in 1837; a new building was done in 1937 including a theater. The Pavillon de L’Octroi is an octagonal tower  built in 1830 replacing the old gate of Paris and now the tourist office . The nearby  Villa « Les Heures Claires », or aka as Villa Savoye work of architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret aka as Le Corbusier built between 1928 and 1931; the wonderful distillery of the liquor of Noyau de Poissy, with a store at the rue du Général-de-Gaulle. The old slaughterhouse of the Halle aux Veaux built in 1831 in the now place de la République, stop been used as such in 1870;now it is the host of a wonderful market inside and outside there. The Chateau de Villiers of Louis XIII style built with stone and brick in the 19C now houses since 1976 an events center; the Chateau de la Coudraie built in 1870, on rue de Migneaux, and housed personnel of the auto brand Simca in 1962. The Chateau de Bethemont modified in 1858 is today a golf park . The chapel of Saint Lazarus de la Maladrerie dating from 1120-1140 , the tower or tour de Bethemont built in the 14-15C, damaged in 1429 while the reconquest by Jeanne d’Arc and taken again by the English who made it without further use. The wonderful park or parc Meissonier 12 hectares along the Seine river and the avenue du Bon Roi Saint-Louis (road D 153).  It has English style garden with a lake , a rosary, theater and green house owned by the city since 1952 and renovated a part of the old abbey cloister. The parc de Villard next to the parc Meissonier and owned by the city since 1976 includes a castle, playground park and mini farm. Lovely town I tell you. More here in my blog:  https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/1042

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/21733

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/5340

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/4860

Poissy

Ok so why not follow the wonderful Poissy with the magnificent Saint-Germain-en-Laye. only 20 km west of Paris. It was very closed to my old home in dept 78 Yvelines. The presence of a castle here one of the regular residence of the kings of France that loses out once king Louis XIV goes to Versailles, and the forest, royal hunting ground.  You have here the castles such as the Chateau-Vieux and ruins of the Chateau-Neuf (where Louis XIV was born) and the chateau of Hennemont (now international high school ; as well as wonderful museums such as the musée d’Archéologie nationale (inside the castle) , the musée du Prieuré and musée Claude Debussy. The road A13 exchange at Orgeval connects to the city as well as N184 and N13; trains as RER A and from gare Saint Lazarus in Paris. Anecdote, in 1919 the treaty of Saint Germain signed in one of the rooms of the castle established the peace between the Allies and Austria given to the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire and Hapsburgs.  There is a great number of mansion or hotel particulieres in town with a great architecture façade, and one of the most shoppers paradise city center/Downtown in all of  France, over 700 stores. The Priory the old home of painter Maurice Denis houses since 1980 a museum dedicated to his work. The house was built in end of 17C by Madame de Montespan to installed a royal hospital of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The Chapel was decorated by  Maurice Denis. More on my previous blogs here:

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/21568

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/5190

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/1015

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/4762

Saint Germain en laye

Now here is something for you, in Seine-et-Marne dept 77, there is a small village call Maincy.The owners purchased these lands and built a castle on it. The village is still here and so is the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte  (17C) and still in descendants hands semi private. Most people, even in travel forum still name the place as Vaux le Vicomte, but in reality the place is Maincy, ok.  Only 4 km from nearest town of Melun.  Before the castle, the Manufacture of Gobelins or manufacture des Gobelins was here, and was displaced to Paris by order of king Louis XIV after firing Nicolas Fouquet his superintendent of finances and first owner of Vaux-le-Vicomte; some said for jealousy and other for mishandling of State funds. Other than the castle, other things to see here in Maincy are the Saint Etienne (St Stephen) Church, the Maison des Carmes where the manufacture of Gobelins was, the the bridge at the place known as Three windmills or Trois-Moulins over the Almont river, famous because it was painted by Paul Cézanne under the title Pont de Maincy.  Who worked in the castle well, André Le Nôtre, Nicolas Poussin, Daniel Gittard, Charles le Brun and Louis Le Vau. The principal owner today is the Count Patrice de Vogüé. More on my blog here:

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/1081

Vaux le Vicomte

How about Houdan now I bring you to the heart of the Yvelines; visitors should dare more even if France is visited by 85 million no 1 in the world ! This is another example of town that is not portrayed as Royal, but it is, go figure ::) There are places most of them hardly ever if ever go to. One of them is Houdan, 43 km from Versailles. The nice road N12 (free road) passes by the town as well as the Paris Montparnasse direction Granville line that has stop at Houdan. The bit of history I like tells us that Houdan belongs to the Lords of Montfort from the 10C and later was added to the Duchy of Brittany!!! by marriage. It was disputed between the English and finally entered the royal domain with the marriage of king Louis XII and Anne of Brittany/Bretagne. Given by king Louis XIV to the Luynes family in exchange for lands closer to Versailles, and stayed with them until the French revolution. The fair or festival of Saint-Matthieu is done here every year for 2-3 days on the last weekend of September (Saint-Matthieu saint day is Sept 21). It is one of the oldest fairs in Europe with the first one going back to 1065,by the Count Amaury II de Montfort. If not at this time in town, go to see the St James and St Christopher Church or église Saint-Jacques et Saint-Christophe gothic style built in the 15-16C with a renaissance choir, and an organ originally from 1739. Also, the tower or donjon very visible as you entered the city by car .It is what remained of the old fortifications been built in the 13C by Count Amaury III de Montfort; a massive tower alone in the western part of the town with 25 meters high and 16 meters of diameter, flank by four smaller towers of 4,8 meters in diameter; it is used today as a water tower. More on the area tourist info in English here:  https://www.tourisme-pays-houdanais.fr/ent/Home.html

My blog  post here ; https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/1263

Houdan

Then, we go down south a bit on the region into magical Dourdan, about 44 km from Paris in the department 91 Essonne. This Celtic village later Gallo Roman town, birthplace of the Capetian kings and royal town from the 10C, is today known for its castle, 13C very well preserved.  The road A10 passes on the north of town before the tolls of Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines (that I always avoid lol!). You have the better road D836 crossing the town west to east and onwards to Etampes and Rambouillet. Also, the D838 goes up to Versailles and the D116 with a beltway going to Arpajon. You,also, have good train service on the line RER C and the TER Centre Val de Loire that passes by here too. There is a train station in town as well as the Dourdan-La Fôret servicing the RER C as terminus.

 The castle belongs to Hugues le Grand, Duke of the Franks that built this castle to his taste and died in it in 956AD. Also, here was born in 940, Hugues Capet founder of the dynasty of Kings and crowned himself in 987, so Dourdan can be called the foundation of the House of France, royal town since the 10C.  It was in 1220 that king Philippe Auguste decided to built a new castle here taking as a model, the Louvre. The donjon was 26 meters high which was impressive at the times. It was offered as a chic place to such folks as Blanche de Castille, Marguerite de Provence, Saint Louis, Louis d’Evreux, Jean I de Berry, Sully, favorite Anne de Pisseleu and Anne of Austria. The town had a hotel Dieu to welcome pilgrims .  In 1314, Jeanne II of Burgundy future queen of France was prisioner here. By 1340 it was completed the Chapel Saint Jean l’Evangéliste.

The castle of Dourdan owned by Jean Ier de Berry since 1400 , and he ordered the construction of the ramparts. It passed thru many ravages of wars for many years and by 1562 king Henri II sold the property to the Duke de Guise, in the 17C by wish of his son king Louis XIII gives it to the queen Marie de Médicis. At the French revolution, the Church was ravage, enclosed and change into a temple of reason ,then prison, and finally brought back to a religious building in 1795. At the time, the castle was the property of the Duke of Orleans, and became a prison; in 1961 the castle is sold to the city.  What can you see here; well the Church or église St Germain d’Auxerre built along the lines of the Cathedral of Chartres in 1150 and finished in the 13C  with modifications in the 15C and 17C, the Church is 50 meters long by 18 meters wide, with a spiral tower at 50 meters, the bronze bell called “Germaine” dates from 1778 and weights 2300 kg, the portal gate on the north side is from the 15C, and there are wonderful paintings, sculptures  ; the Hôtel-Dieu with the chapel of Saint Jean l’Evangéliste or St John the Baptist; there is a vast hunting royal forest that became domain in 1870. The ramparts are still there since the Middle Ages, long of 1700 meters and with 24 towers, Four gates (Paris, Chartres, Etampes, and Puits des Champs) and three wells (Grouteau, Croix-Ferras, and Petit-Huis) ; today only remains some in the north, west, and east of the city, two towers on the blvd des Alliés, one tower on the trail of Laubier, and that tower or tour du Petit-Huis on rue de l’Étang. The tourist office is here: http://www.dourdan-tourisme.fr/

In my blog the town of Dourdan is mentioned here: https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/2388

Dourdan

  There are two other towns that are not royal towns but merit the distinction in my opinion. These are Jouarre and Maisons-Laffitte.

The first one is Jouarre in Seine-et-Marne, not far from my wife’s native town. This is where king Dagobert Ier created a palace school reuniting in court ,the highest dignitaries of the kingdom and gave them a culture and initiation of the royal administration. This is how Adon leave the king’s court to found a monastery at Jouarre becoming in time an abbey of double sense, men and women living in the same monastic order in the same place with separate buildings and all the founders on both sexes are in tombs there at the crypt of Saint Paul in the monastery of Jouarre, except those in the crypt of Saint-Ebrégésile, Caroligian origins and used as a Chapel until the 20C ,it has the tomb of Saint Ebrégésile, bishop of  Meaux  in the 7C, and brother of Sainte Aguilberte. The abbey of Notre Dame de Jouarre a Benedictine abbey of the 7C and still inhabited by them; it was destroyed during the French revolution in 1792 but rebuilt in 1837 . The Tour Romane, house a sisters store and traces the history of the abbey, shown a audiovisual projection on the monastic life. It is the example to see and know about the history of Jouarre.

You can see here the wonderful  musée de la Civilisation paysanne or the museum of the farmers’s life, in two rooms given by the abbey and families of the town you see agriculture hardware in all shapes and forms, and rural furniture all in the Chapel  Saint Martin  above the crypts. Also, the St Peter and St Paul Church or église Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul built in the 16C with many jewels and chases from the abbesse and other protector Saints, a Christ in wood 15C, pieta 15C, Christ in resurrection 16C, stained glass from the 17C and several statues and sculptures in stone. The relics are carried on the back of the faithful every year in procession of Pentecost. The Manoir de Nolongue, a farm kept intact from the middle of the 14C; the Domaine de Perreuse and its Castle of the 16C, here during the first Battle of the Marne in WWI, the castle was turned into the HQ of the allied commanders and one of the biggest military hospitals in the region, now it is a nursing home. Especially, the Fromagerie Ganot, one of the oldest if not the oldest brie cheese maker and tastings and visits available. Brie is from this region, unique, cheese of the kings, king of the cheeses , Vienna 1815. The tourist office for the region in French here: http://tourismepaysfertois.fr/ouvrir-une-porte/jouarre-son-abbaye-ses-cryptes/

My blog entry on nice Joaurre here: https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/2262

Jouarre

Last but not least we come back to the Yvelines dept 78 this is Maisons-Laffitte. About 10 km from Saint Germain en Laye and 18 km from Paris.  It is on the left bank of the Seine river, and the forest of Saint Germain en Laye with an isle on the Seine river ,île de la Commune.

Very well connected by road on the D308 linking Paris to Poissy and the train station Gare Saint Lazare as well as a RER A train line and regular train service J and L Transilien network. The bus 262 link Pont de Bezons and T2 that passes by the La Défense and to Porte de Versailles. The night bus Noctilien N152 link the train station here to Saint Lazare in Paris.

First mention of Maisons-Laffitte is around 1060, and the town is finally shape as still is around 1602  when Jean VIII de Longueil buys all the parts of the town. He was succeeded by his son René that was President of the Paris parliament and superintendent of finances in 1650-51 ; the castle was done on his request to François Mansart, uncle of Jules Hardouin Mansart who built Versailles a few years later.  The castle is big to welcome the King on his hunting days in the forest of Saint Germain, and for this reason the entrance is on the back of the Seine river in front of a grand avenue coming from the forest, construction begins around 1642 and finished in 1650.  There are many attempts to sell the castle , king Louis XIV stayed here in 1671 during the funeral of the Duke of Anjou, but only finally the castle is sold in 1777 to the Count of Artois brother of king Louis XVI and future Charles X that finished the decorations. After many attempts to embellished the castle and due to short cash and the subsequent French revolution makes the Count of Artois exiled in England and finally the castle is taken in 1792 during the French revolution, again sold in 1797 and again in 1804 to the Marshal Lannes. The Castle is brought to the attention of Napoléon I, and the Marshal does more renovations including the gardens. After his death in 1809 in the battle of Essling, his wife Duchess de Montebello received the emperor and he ordered in 1810 the construction of the first bridge between Sartrouville and Maisons; by 1813 the emperatrice Marie-Louise also visits the castle and finally in 1818 the castle is sold to Jacques Laffitte.

Jacques Laffitte comes from modest background , carpenter, but quickly rises up. Governor of the Bank of France in 1814, opposing Charles X, he welcomes to the castle many adversaries and has great influence on the Revolution of 1830 (that ended monarchy in France with Charles X)  The same year he is named President of the Chamber of Deputies and once in throne king Louis Philippe I king of the French (but notice not of France) he is named President of the Council and minister of finances for the king. He goes thru a period of real estate development to create a new town, selling lots and building houses. Jacques Laffitte died on May 26 1844 not before building a town that now bears his name. The domain past to his daughter Albine that continues the sale of lots and finally sells the domain including the castle in 1850.  The castle is very nice and so is the town, we went there regularly and shop at the épicerie de Longueil a lot. The castle site in English here: http://www.chateau-maisons.fr/en/

The tourist office in English here: http://www.tourisme-maisonslaffitte.fr/

And another thing not to missed even if do not bet, the place is nice to visit is the racecourse, full of history too; here is the site in English. http://www.france-galop.com/en/node/62

And with the castle and the grocery store Longueil we had enough here, and still going strong, webpage in English here.http://www.epiceriedelongueil.com/

And of course, my blog post on Maisons-Laffite here: https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/5188

Maisons Laffitte

So hope you have enjoyed the virtual trip ! Wonderful places that makes me feel good about living in France. Enjoy your royal weekend, Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: