Campingtrip in France, 1989

Photos © R.Leeuw

Campingtrip France 1987
Visiting the Air Salon at Paris-Le Bourget, we combined this into a campingtrip and a few castles in the immediate vicinity of Paris. The campground at 'Camping Municipal Compiègne' was all but deserted; there were plenty of things for a 4-year old to play with but no other kids..

We went to the castle at Pierrefonds, it looms over the town in truly medieval style!

We walked through the small historic streets towards the castle.

Castle walls
The castle has a history of battle and resurrection.
The line of owners dates back to 13th century, but its present shape and form dates back from the 15th century. The owner at that time, Louis d'Orleans, was murdered by mercenaries outside his castle on 23Nov1407. He fell victim to a feud with his cousin, John 'the Fearless' - Duke of Burgundy. The nobles started fighting among themselves and this escalated into a full blown civil war.
Charles, the new Duke of Orleans, was married to the daughter of count of Armagnac and so the main two fighting parties were referred to as 'The Armagnacs' and the 'Bourgignons'.

At one time knights and armed men passed through this gate for battle!

Charles, de Count of Orleans, saw his castle being involved in battle and war. Unfortunately for him the French were defeated at Agincourt by the English; Charles was wounded and held prisoner. He had to endure captivity for 25 years in the Tower of London, he was released in 1440. When he passed away in 1465 his son Louis (later to become Louis XII) inherited the castle.

The Pierrefonds Castle saw plenty of battle and so did the owners. After yet another siege Cardinal Richelieu orderd it to be made unsuitable as a stronghold, in 1617.
The castle sat for over a century as a ruin, moss growing fat on the debris.

A gargoyle, a nicely decorated waterspout.


Lovely interior of the Pierrefonds Castle, this is the Knights' Hall. It was in fact supposed to become a garden, by design of Viollet-le-Duc, but plans were changed. On the left is a statue of King Charlemagne and also of the Dutch William of Orange!
At the end is a nicely decorated chimney.

In 1862 the castle was completely renovated. Napoleon III requested Viollet-le-Duc to restore it from a ruin in more or less the same state, resembling a medieval castle (as the project was beyond a 'simple' restoration).
That is more or less what we are looking at these days.

Pierrefonds Castle
The present thick wall were built to withstand canonfire, but in the 17th century they were breached by canonfore nevertheless. The castle has steep drops on three sides, only on this side, at the gate one can get to the castle walls.

Chateau de Compiegne
Chateau de Compiègne.

Chateau de Compiegne

King Louis XV requested Jacque-Ange Gabriel to change the present accommodation into something worthy of royalty.. Work was started in 1751 and were completed in 1787, during the reign of Louis XVI. The royal quarters were decorated 'by' Marie-Antoinette.
Unfortunately our tour was only conducted in French and we understood little of it. Often I found myself frustrated with informative booklets about history details, concerning a castle we've been visiting, only available in French, not English.


This castle is located south of Paris. It is rather more a palace than a castle. It had a fine waxmuseum with splendid periodic clothing and an excellent collection of carriages.
It was built in the 17th century for Le Fouquet, the French Minister of Finance. Monsieur Le Vau was responsible for the architecture, Le Brun for the decorations and Le Nôtre for the exquisite gardens.
Mons. Le Fouquet (1615-1680) also took well care of his own finance, as this humble dwelling may illustrate!
On 17Aug1661 Le Fouquet invited King Louis XIV to his grand opening and the King became weary of all this wealth and summoned d'Artagnan to arrest Le Fouquet. The intrigue was further fused by one Mons. Colbert, who whispered dark thoughts about Le Fouquet in Louis XIV' ear; he'd been well versed in intrigue having worked for Cardinal Mazarin as a privat secretary. It wasn't smart of Le Fouquet to court Madame de Lavalier, a favourite of Louis XIV, either!
Don't you just love history!

About d'Artagnan one can read the books by Alexandre Dumas in 'The Three Musketeers'.


Beautiful decorations if you like them in a grand, gold style.

Vaux-le-Vicomte Gardens
When Le Fouquet was arrested the treasures were carried off to Versailles, but the Gardens remain as lovely as they were then.

Vaux-le-Vicomte Gardens



Last updated 20.4.2010