Château de Champs-sur-Marne – is it worth a visit? Half a day trip to the charming neoclassical castle near Paris.

If you like visiting French castles and have a possibility to stay a bit longer in Paris to see few landmarks a bit more off the beaten track, you can discover plenty of (not so)-hidden gems in Île-de-France region (Paris area). Whereas many of visitors choose a day trip to magnificent Palace of Versailles or go for a day trip to some of the Loire region castles, I recommend opting for a bit less known historical landmarks where you can get to know better diverse rich French heritage without rush and crowds of people. Such places exist less than an hour away by local public transport from Paris, some days you can even find yourself the only visitor in grand French castle’s interior and stroll alone through the manicured gardens of the premises.

If you want to see more of spectacular French castles easily reachable from Paris, I recommend checking out spectacular Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte which made King Louis XIV jealous himself. Click here to see my post about this magnificent landmark. If you want to see some charming historical small towns in Île-de-France region easily reachable by public transport as a day trip from Paris I recommend going to Provins. Check here my post about this medieval town.

One of such places is the Château de Champs-sur-Marne which is a precious example of the 18th century French mansion with elegant harmonious interior and surrounded by impressive vast gardens. The house’s design and location reflects the a lifestyle of French high society in the 18th and 19th centuries where comfort was a big priority. The estate has 85 hectares of grounds where one can find French and English gardens and small forest area. The park has been awarded the Remarkable Garden label which distinguishes gardens and parks of cultural, aesthetic, historical or botanical interest, whether public or private. If you’re interested in the interior design of historical French mansions and a lifestyle of XVIII and XIX century French bourgeoisie or you are fascinated by French gardens, then plan a half day trip to the Château de Champs-sur-Marne.

Château de Champs-sur-Marne and its gardens

In the weekends (and afternoons), the park is also a quiet retreat for Parisian families from busy and crowded Paris. One can spend in the gardens relaxing afternoon, the estate is big enough so you don’t hear cars and sounds of the city and can immerse in the lush greenery, listen to the birds and subtle sounds of water fountains located all around the garden.

Practical information: How to get there?

It takes around 40 minutes to get there from Paris, you need to take RER A from Chatelet or Gare de Lyon station and get off in Noisiel. From there, it’s a short drive by bus 220 (around 10 minutes) and walk around 2 minutes to the gates of the castle. I don’t recommend going there by car, the traffic to enter and exit Paris is just too heavy, especially in the morning and afternoon.

How much does it cost?

The entry to the castle is 8 euro (in 2023).

It is free for children under 18 years old and for EU residents under 26 years old. Consult the castle website to see other reductions.

Opening times:

The castle has various opening times depending of the time of the year. Check the website for exact hours. Usually, the mansion is closed for a lunch break and reopens in the afternoon. The castle is closed on Tuesday.

Short history:

Jean-Baptiste Bullet de Chamblain was the architect responsible for building the castle in 1699 for the French treasurer Charles Renouard de la Touane. After the owner’s bankruptcy, the works were continued between 1703 and 1707, the castle was designed as a of French-style pleasure house. The new proprietor was Paul Poisson de Bourvallais who was a French financier of the King Louis XIV. 10 years later de Bourvallais was imprisoned in the Bastille on charges of embezzlement and the château was seized by the Crown. The Domain was sold to the princess of Conti in 1718 which donated the house to her cousin, duke de la Valliere. It is his son who orchestrated significant decoration changes in the castle adding fashionable at the time chinoiseries (decorations much in trend in the 18th century, inspired by the fascination with the Chinese and other East Asian artistic traditions).

Château de Champs-sur-Marne as many of French grand houses has turbulent record of various proprietors with the estate being sold, inherited or confiscated in various period of times. Further owners of the Domain continued to modernize and adapt the castle according to the latest 18th century trends and adjusted it to the new lifestyle of French bourgeoisie. Around 1750, the beautiful rococo salon chinois was added, the gardens which we see today were revitalized and carefully looked after by Henri Duchene (1841-1902). The Domain was gifted to the French state in 1935. Between 1935-1974 the mansion was used to received important state guests and only after the castle became open to public.

Extraordinary rococo salon was designated to guests reception. Fashionable at the time chinoiseries are adorning the walls.

During a visit to the castle one can see 2 floors with representative rooms on the first floor and private family chambers on the second floor.

The billiards room (which is also a library), red chamber, the monochrome cabinet and the smoking room are located at the ground floor and create a sublime space which play a representational role. You can observe how the cameral space was designed to ensure a maximal comfort.
Cameral dining room. Notice French Brindille pattern on the porcelaine. Below you can see a dining room for children.
The elegant stairs (stairs of honour) lead to the first floor and the music room which offers a beautiful view at the gardens, the other rooms create a more cameral apartment which is suitable for couple.
As mentioned before the palace was used for public functions of the state in the 20th century. General de Gaulle spent one night in this room with his wife in 1962. Tha palace was modernized to suit the needs of its guests. The stylish bathroom is equipped with all contemporary necessary comforts.
When visiting Champs-sur-Marne castle you can’t skip the gardens. Historically, the estate consisted of 600ha of agriculture land, forest (for hunting) and the gardens. Nowadays, the domain has 85ha and is accessible for visitors for free (you pay only to enter the castle). The magnificent gardens were designed by Claude Desgot who was working with André Le Nôtre and was inspired by him. The project was continued by Desgot’s son in law. Nowadays, you can enjoy around 5km of walking paths, with centrally located regular garden and wilder parts which will make you feel as if you’re in the middle of the forest.

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