Wednesday, 26 July 2017


On a crisp day I drove with JC to visit the Chateau de Compiègne, north of Paris. It's a royal residence built for Louis XV and  restored by Napoleon. Compiègne was one of three seats of royal government, the others being Versailles and Fontainbleau. This chateau has not fared as well as the other two as it's more remote and less ancient.
During the French Revolution Compiègne  was gutted of all its furniture and fell into disrepair until Napoleon visited it and decided to restore it. The result is that most of the style inside is First French Empire, not much of Louis s XV and XVI remain.
Still, it's  a good place to visit. We spent hours there and still didn't get to the carriage/vehicle section. This sprawling museum is made up of three sections: the historic appartments of Louis XVI to Napoleon III, the Second Empire of Napoleon III, and the National Car and Tourism Museum.

On the grounds by the rose garden is an old building now turned into a teahouse or informal restaurant. While waiting for it to open I strolled around the garden. There are many old roses as well as irises edged with box. The restaurant menu is limited and I found the staff less than attentive; rather a shame as there were hardly any customers to busy them.

The quality of the renovations is pleasing with many interesting details on handles and hinges, stairways and dark panelled corners. Napoleon I's style with its Egyptian influence is everywhere in furniture and balustrading.

The painted ceilings and beautiful statues really complement the place.

JC explained that the stag's head mounted in one of the foyers wasn't entirely real. He said that a head that old would be unlikely to survive the centuries of dust etc and so normally they used real antlers but the rest was sculpted in plaster.

Among the rooms of note are Napoleon I's library (he had a library in every residence and also a travelling library for when he was campaigning), the Empress's bedroom, Napoleon III's dining room (a cold and rather souless place) and quite a range of impressive chandeliers from various epoques.

Napoleon III's bust is easily identifiable by his moustache and  goatee. It was during his reign that Baron Haussmann remodelled the architecture of much of central Paris into large apartment blocks with their distinctive balconies that we see today.

Look out for the games tables - rather intriguing and the symbols of Napoleon's reign - bees and eagles.

I'll leave you with a collection of photos from our visit. For more information go to