Château d'Écouen

Val-d'Oise, France

The Château d'Écouen was built between 1538 and 1550 by the architect Jean Bullant for Anne de Montmorency, who was made Connétable de France in 1538. Anne de Montmorency had inherited the château in 1515, and his building campaigns were informed by his first-hand experience in overseeing royal works at Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Fontainebleau.

Anne de Montmorency was a major patron of the arts in France, and a protector of artists: his chapel was decorated with sculptures by Jean Goujon, and Jean Bullant, Barthélemy Prieur, Bernard Palissy. Some of the Androuet du Cerceau family found protection and work at Écouen. Unhappily, no building accounts survive, so the precise sequence of the construction cannot be closely followed; panels of grisaille stained glass in the gallery of the west wing are dated 1542 and 1544, and the east wing was paved in 1549-50. The building was frescoed and furnished during the 1550s, in the style of the School of Fontainebleau.

In 1787 the east (entrance) wing was demolished by the owner, the Louis Joseph de Bourbon, prince de Condé. When he emigrated at the Revolution, Château of Écouen fell to the State, as a 'national property'.

Following an idea of André Malraux the castle was thoroughly renovated by architects of the Monuments Historiques, after having served as a school for daughters of chevaliers of the Légion d'Honneur, from 1807 to 1962, in order to house the Musée de la Renaissance, comprising the Renaissance objects of the collections of the Musée de Cluny, in sympathetic surroundings. A series of small, highly focussed exhibitions have been staged at Écouen over the years since the museum fully opened in 1982.



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Founded: 1538-1550
Category: Castles and fortifications in France


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Southgate Productions (6 months ago)
An embarrassment of riches First of you, this is an absolute must see. A quite stunning collection of treasures in an extraordinarily beautiful castle. But really, while it gets 10/10 for the collections the standard of interpretation is very poor. Some galeries have extremely hard to read (in the low lighting) composite labels far away from the artworks they are explaining. Others have qr codes (bad luck if your phone isn’t working) taking you to lengthy essays from which you will struggle to identify many objects. The stand out collection of tapestries barely gets any interpretation. Whoever is the director of this museum - and one assumes it is a fairly prestigious position - needs to make an effort to improve things.
Edward Gray (12 months ago)
It's a very good museum, in a stunning Renaissance château. The collections are interesting and you get a lovely walk through the forest to get there. The only issue is that the collections are not always explained in depth - it really lacks explicative panels. Fantastic place to go, though, when you know the history behind the monument.
Michael Finocchiaro (12 months ago)
One of the least visited and yet most interesting museums north of Paris. Very diverse collection, well-explained, and a wonderful castle to house it. I have made the trek out there 3 or 4 times and always enjoyed it!
Catalin DC (12 months ago)
It is very underrated, comparing to most museums in Paris or Loire were the entrances are 11-15 euro, here you can enter with 5 euro and the museum is very rich and interesting . It was the lowest price I found while in France. It stands above the little city Ecouen, so it has a nice view. A huge plus is the restaurant of the museum surrounded by lavander where you can have have a very nice meal for a fair price :)
Steve M (14 months ago)
Nice to visit but a bit small as it took us les than an hour to go through the exhibits and there were no visit that day. Call ahead to confirm the guided visits
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