Dourdan in the Essonne dept 91! ïle de France!

So I am around the neighborhood telling you about some off the beaten path towns that are worthy of coming if so close to Paris. The department 91 Essonne is not well known yet surrounding Paris and well worth your while to pay attention to what it has to offer.

One of my highlights of coming here is the town of Dourdan, and I like to tell you a bit more about it. When, we go down south a bit on the region of ïle de France 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.  Parking is best on the street near the marché or market. You have good train service on the line RER C and the TER Centre Val de Loire that passes by here destination of Vendôme or Châteaudun, without stops from the gare Paris Austerlitz.. There is a train station in town as well as the Dourdan-La Fôret servicing the RER C as terminus.


A bit of history I like

The castle at Dourdan 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 Capetians 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 Hôtel-Dieu to welcome pilgrims .  In 1314, Jeanne II of Burgundy future queen of France was prisoner here. By 1340 it was completed the Chapel Saint Jean l’Evangéliste (St John the Evangelist).


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 time, of the French revolution, the castle was the property of the Duke of Orleans, and became a prison. In 1961 the Castle is sold to the city, and now used as a museum.


Other things to see  are 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 north tower at 50 meters, the bronze bell called “Germaine” dates from 1778 and weighs 2300 kg, the portal gate on the north side is from the 15C, and there are wonderful paintings, sculptures.


Inside the Saint Germain d’Auxerre Church, you can see a funerary slab adorned with the effigy of Guillaume de Chatillonville, which served as a bridge over a ditch under the French revolution. It was returned to the Church after being recovered by the local Dourdannais. The shrine of the relics of Saint Félicien in precious glass and metal which was offered by Marguerite-Louise d’Orléans, Grand Duchess of Tuscany in 1695 is displayed every 9th June. Portraits of the priests of the Church since the French revolution, in particular that of Father Gautier, complete the decoration. The organ, built in 1870. The first bronze bell melted in 1599, the second, named Germaine, was cast in 1778 in bronze. A chest in the sacristy is dated 1733. The Church was used as a prison during the French revolution and was brought back to Catholic service by 1795.


The Hôtel-Dieu with the Chapel of Saint Jean l’Evangéliste or St John the Evangelist. In 1220 was built the Hôtel-Dieu, destroyed and rebuilt from 1766 with the Evangelist Chapel mentioned in 1340. Modified in 1852 and 1885, it served as a hospital until 1970. Now it is a retirement home.


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 the tower or tour du Petit-Huis on rue de l’Étang.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you should are

Tourist office of Dourdan

City of Dourdan on castle and museum

There you go another jewel very close to Paris and on the off the beaten path, worthty of a visit indeed. And you will be glad you visit the Royal town of Dourdan in the Essonne of the Ïle de France region of my belle France. Enjoy it

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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