Château de Bagatelle

Paris, France

The Château de Bagatelle is a small neoclassical château with a French landscape garden in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The château is intended for brief stays while hunting in the Bois and it was initially built as a small hunting lodge for the Maréchal d'Estrées in 1720. Bagatelle from the Italian bagattella, means a trifle, or little decorative nothing. In 1775, the Comte d'Artois, Louis XVI's brother, purchased the property from the prince de Chimay. The Comte soon had the existing house torn down with plans to rebuild. Famously, Marie-Antoinette wagered against the Comte, her brother-in-law, that the new château could not be completed within three months. The Comte engaged the neoclassical architect François-Joseph Bélanger to design the building that remains in the park today. The Comte won his bet, completing the house, the only residence ever designed and built expressly for him, in sixty-three days, from September 1777.

It is estimated that the project, which came to include manicured gardens, employed eight hundred workers and cost over three million livres. Bélanger's brother-in-law Jean-Démosthène Dugourc provided much of the decorative detail. The central domed feature was a music-room. The master bedroom was fitted up in the manner of a military tent, and Hubert Robert executed a set of six Italianate landscapes for the bathroom. Most of the furnishings were provided by numerous Parisian marchand-merciers, notably Dominique Daguerre; a decorative painter was A.-L. Delabrière.

Following the Revolution, Napoleon I installed his son the Roi de Rome there, before the château was restored to the Bourbons. In 1835 it was sold by Henry, Count of Chambord to Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford and was inherited on his death seven years later by his son the 4th Marquess, who already lived in Paris for most of the year. It contained the largest part of his extensive collection of French paintings, sculptures, furniture and works of decorative art, most of which went to form the Wallace Collection, London. Bagatelle underwent five years of redecorating and extensions, and then Lord Hertford did not reside in it until 1848.

Like most of his unentailed property, Bagatelle was left to his illegitimate son Sir Richard Wallace on Lord Hertford's death in 1870, as his entailed property and his title passed to a distant cousin. Bagatelle was acquired from his heir Sir John Murray-Scott by the City of Paris in 1905.

The Bagatelle gardens, created by Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, are the site of the annual international competition for new roses run by the City of Paris in June of each year. The formal garden spaces surrounding the château, which was linked to its dependencies by underground tunnels, was expanded with a surrounding park in the naturalistic English landscape style by the Scottish garden-designer Thomas Blaikie, and dotted with sham ruins, an obelisk, a pagoda, primitive hermits' huts and grottoes.

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Founded: 1777
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in France

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User Reviews

nicole deeley (3 years ago)
This park is very beautiful. It's not as crowded as some of the parks and the woods provide nice shade on a warm day. The peacocks that wonder around the property provide a lot of entertainment as well. Make sure to check out the Rose garden if you go.
Donbhupi (3 years ago)
The botanical park in Bagatelle is extraordinarily beautiful. It is very well maintained and although you do spot some lovely birds too, the flora of the park is breathtaking. There's also some small ruined-cave-like structures that make for extremely calm and lovely places - good for both photos and short escapes from the hectic reality. It's also a great place for a picnic amidst nature; we had a few nibbles while some peacocks were walking past us. I'd love to visit this parc again with some more time at hand.
Sylvain Dornadic (3 years ago)
Nice English garden with a large rose garden on the grounds of a former aristocratic estate. This is one of the three locations that make up the Paris botanical gardens.
Alfredo Sanders (3 years ago)
Nice place to take a walk and clear your mind, everything is very clean and ideal for exercise.
Ruth Silva (3 years ago)
A wonderful and peaceful place to enjoy alone or with friends or family. The gardens and landscaping are amazing, and there are many corners to sit down with a picnic. If in Paris for a short visit, after a leisurely walk and picnic at Bagatelle, you can always take the 15 minutes walk to the remarkable Louis Vuitton Museum. The building alone is a sight to behold and the exhibitions something to remember.
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