Château de Rambouillet

Rambouillet, France

The château de Rambouillet is the summer residence of the Presidents of the French Republic. The château was originally a fortified manor dating back to 1368 and, although amputated of one of its sides at the time of Napoleon I, it still retains its pentagonal bastioned footprint. King Francis I died there, on 31 March 1547, probably in the imposing medieval tower that bears his name. The château was owned by Charles d'Angennes, the marquis de Rambouillet during the reign of Louis XIII. Avenues led directly from the park of the castle into the adjacent game-rich forest. More than 200 square kilometres of forest remain, the remnant of the Forest of Rambouillet, also known as the Forest of Yveline.

In 1783, the château became the private property of king Louis XVI, who bought it from his cousin as an extension of his hunting grounds. Louis XVI commissioned the construction of the renowned Laiterie de la Reine, (the Queen's dairy), where the buckets were of Sèvres porcelain, painted and grained to imitate wood, and the presiding nymph was a marble Amalthea, with the goat that nurtured Jupiter, sculpted by Pierre Julien. A little salon was attached to the dairy itself, with chairs supplied by Georges Jacob in 1787 that had straight, tapering stop-fluted legs.

During the French Revolution the castle was emptied of its furnishings and the gardens and surrounding park falling into neglect. During the reign of Napoleon I, Rambouillet was included in his list of government-owned property at the disposal of the head of state. The emperor came several times to Rambouillet, the last being on the night of 29–30 June 1815, on his way to exile to Saint Helena. Among the reminders of Napoléon are the Pompeian style bathroom with its small bathtub and the exquisite balcony built to link the emperor's apartment to that of his second wife, the empress Marie-Louise. Another reminder of Napoléon was the splendid Allée de Cyprès chauves de Louisiane, a double-lined bald cypress avenue.

At the time of the Bourbon Restoration, Rambouillet was again included in the royal list. Fifteen years after Napoleon I, Charles X's road to exile also started at Rambouillet. On 2 August 1830, he signed his abdication here in favour of his nine-year old grandson, the Duke of Bordeaux.

After the fall of Napoleon III in 1870, which saw the beginning of the French Third Republic, the domain of Rambouillet was leased from 1870 to 1883 to the duc de la Trémoille. In February 1896, Rambouillet received a visit from President Félix Faure who then decided to spend his summers there with his family. Since, the château of Rambouillet has become the summer residence of France's Presidents of the Republic, who entertain, and used to invite to hunting parties many foreign dignitaries, princes and heads of state. As a part-time residence of the French president, it is sometimes referred to as the Palace of Rambouillet.

On 23 August 1944, prior to the liberation of Paris, General Charles de Gaulle arrived at Rambouillet and set up his headquarters in the castle where, in the evening, he met General Philippe Leclerc who, at the head of his French 2nd Armored Division, had mission to liberate Paris. On August 25 General de Gaulle left Rambouillet by car to enter Paris liberation.

In November 1975, the first "G6" summit was organized in the château by French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing for the heads of the world's leading industrialized countries. The château de Rambouillet continues to be used as a venue for bilateral summits and, in February 1999, was host to the negotiations on Kosovo.

On 26 December 1999, Hurricane Lothar hit the northern half of France, wreaking havoc to forests, parks and buildings. The Forest of Rambouillet lost hundreds of thousands of trees, and among the over five thousand downed trees in the park of Rambouillet, was the handsome, historical Allée de Cyprès chauves de Louisiane, the bald cypress avenue planted in 1810.

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User Reviews

Jovan Radicevic (12 months ago)
I love it. Beautiful place. Must see!
Ian Bowring (12 months ago)
A most enjoyable outing from Paris, including the Château and the surrounding area.
Tiziana Stura (13 months ago)
Lovely. If you love nature, history, fresh air and to walk or stroll about.
Arunabrata Ray (15 months ago)
Very pleasant walk ways all around and kids had fun in the pedal carts and electric golf carts.
Grzegorz Pieta (15 months ago)
Pretty and quiet place with nice park around. Good place for picnic.
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