The Château de Compiègne was a royal residence built for Louis XV and restored by Napoleon. It was one of three seats of royal government, the others being Versailles and Fontainebleau.

Château de Compiègne was the preferred summer residence for the monarchs of France who would come to hunt in the nearby forest. Louis XIV stayed in the château some 75 times. Louis XV was even more enamoured.

The Comte de Chevergny described his infatuation: "Hunting was his main passion... and Compiègne, with its immense forest, with its endless avenues amongst the trees, with its stretches down which you could ride all day and never come to the end, was the ideal place to indulge that passion."

In 1750, the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel proposed a thorough revision of the château. Work began in 1751 and was finished in 1788 by Gabriel's student Le Dreux de La Châtre. It is neo-classic in style and notable for its beautiful elegance and simplicity of design.

During the French Revolution, the Château de Compiègne passed into the jurisdiction of the Minister for the Interior. In 1795 all furniture was sold and its works of art were sent to the Muséum Central. Napoleon visited in 1799 and again in 1803. In 1804 the château became a domaine impérial and in 1807 Napoleon ordered that it be made habitable again.

The greatest architects and decorators of the day oversaw its remodelling. Its layout was altered, a ballroom added, and the garden was replanted and linked directly to the forest.

The result is a striking example of First Empire style (1808-1810), although some traces of the earlier décor survive. Auguste Luchet remarked that "Compiègne speaks of Napoleon as Versailles does of Louis XIV.”

Today's visitors can find three distinct museums within the chateau: the apartments themselves; the Museum of the Second Empire; and the National Car Museum, which contains a fine collection of carriages, bicycles, and automobiles. All three museums are worth visiting and offer free entry with the Paris Pass.

Image © Palais de Compiègne / FP

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Monday 10.00 - 18.00
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 10.00 - 18.00
Thursday 10.00 - 18.00
Friday 10.00 - 18.00
Saturday 10.00 - 18.00
Sunday 10.00 - 18.00
Last Admission: 17.15

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Address:

Place du Général de Gaulle Compiègne 60 200

Telephone:

+33 3 44 38 47 02