The American Friends of the Château de Compiägne


History of Le Château de Compiägne

Le Château de Compiägne was built by architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel and his students, for King Louis XV, on the site of a previous royal palace. The Château was designed according to Louis XV’s direction of “simplicitÇ.”

Compiägne became a beloved summer residence amongst Louis XV and his successive monarchs, primarily because of its proximity to the hunting grounds in Compiägne Forest. As such, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette initiated projects here. However, during the French Revolution, the château was almost depleted, with all the furniture sold and the artwork taken to The Museum Central des Arts.

After the revolution, NapolÇon I, having visited Le Château de Compiägne in 1799 and 1803, ordered for a restoration and remodeling, to make the château habitable once more. Subsequently, its layout was altered and a new ballroom was added, while an English-style garden was landscaped, providing a direct link to the Compiägne Forest. The rooms, decorated by two Empresses, JosÇphine and Marie-Louise, retain many of their original features and offer a unique insight into what became a designated “domaine impÇrial.”

Le Château de Compiägne became one of the favorite residences of NapolÇon I during his reign, and therefore offers arguably the best physical testament to his life and lifestyle as Emperor. NapolÇon’s nephew, NapolÇon III, and Empress EugÇnie, particularly adored Compiägne, and it became the social epicenter of the Second Empire during the annual SÇries de Compiägne.

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