Château de Rambouillet
The château de Rambouillet is a castle in the town of Rambouillet
Rambouillet is a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France in north-central France.It is located in the suburbs of Paris southwest from the center...

, Yvelines
Yvelines is a French department in the region of Île-de-France.-History:Yvelines was created from the western part of the defunct department of Seine-et-Oise on 1 January 1968 in accordance with a law passed on 10 January 1964 and a décret d'application from 26 February 1965.It gained the...

  department, in the Île-de-France
Île-de-France (région)
Île-de-France is the wealthiest and most populated of the twenty-two administrative regions of France, composed mostly of the Paris metropolitan area....

 region in northern France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, 50 km (31.1 mi) southwest of Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. It is the summer residence of the Presidents of the French Republic.


The château
A château is a manor house or residence of the lord of the manor or a country house of nobility or gentry, with or without fortifications, originally—and still most frequently—in French-speaking regions...

 was originally a fortified manor dating back to 1368 and, although amputated of one of its sides at the time of Napoleon I
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

, it still retains its pentagonal bastion
A bastion, or a bulwark, is a structure projecting outward from the main enclosure of a fortification, situated in both corners of a straight wall , facilitating active defence against assaulting troops...

ed footprint. King Francis I
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

 died there, on 31 March 1547, probably in the imposing medieval tower that bears his name. Like the Hôtel de Rambouillet
Hôtel de Rambouillet
The Hôtel de Rambouillet was the Paris residence of Madame de Rambouillet, who ran a renowned literary salon there from about 1607 until her death in 1665...

 in Paris, the château was owned by Charles d'Angennes, the marquis de Rambouillet
Catherine de Vivonne, marquise de Rambouillet
Catherine de Vivonne, marquise de Rambouillet , known as Madame de Rambouillet, was a society hostess and a major figure in the literary history of 17th-century France.-Biography:...

 during the reign of Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

. Avenues led directly from the park of the castle into the adjacent game-rich forest. More than 200 square kilometres of forest remain, the remnant of the Forest of Rambouillet
Forest of Rambouillet
The Forest of Rambouillet or Forest of Yveline is a large forest covering some 200 km², located to the west of Paris, in the Île-de-France region in northern France...

, also known as the Forest of Yveline (Forêt de l'Yveline).

In 1783, the château became the private property of king Louis XVI
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

, who bought it from his cousin the duc de Penthièvre
Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon, duc de Penthièvre
Louis Jean Marie de Bourbon was the son of Louis Alexandre de Bourbon and his wife Marie Victoire de Noailles. He was also a grandson of Louis XIV of France and his mistress, Madame de Montespan. From birth he was known as the Duke of Penthièvre...

 as an extension of his hunting grounds. Queen Marie-Antoinette, who accompanied her husband on a visit in November 1783, is said to have exclaimed: "Comment pourrais-je vivre dans cette gothique crapaudière!" (How could I live in such a gothic toadhouse!) However, to induce his wife to like his new acquisition, Louis XVI commissioned in great secret the construction of the renowned Laiterie de la Reine, (the Queen's dairy
A dairy is a business enterprise established for the harvesting of animal milk—mostly from cows or goats, but also from buffalo, sheep, horses or camels —for human consumption. A dairy is typically located on a dedicated dairy farm or section of a multi-purpose farm that is concerned...

, where the buckets were of Sèvres porcelain, painted and grained to imitate wood, and the presiding nymph was a marble Amalthea
Amalthea can refer to:*Amalthea , the foster-mother of Zeus in Greek mythology.*Amaltheia, alternative name of the Cumaean Sibyl*Amalthea *Amalthea , the fifth moon of Jupiter....

, with the goat that nurtured Jupiter, sculpted by Pierre Julien
Pierre Julien
Pierre Julien was a French sculptor who worked in a full range of rococo and neoclassical styles.He served an early apprenticeship at Le Puy-en-Velay, near his natal village of Saint-Paulien, then at the École de dessin of Lyon, then entered the Parisian atelier of Guillaume Coustou the Younger...

. A little salon was attached to the dairy itself, with chairs supplied by Georges Jacob
Georges Jacob
Georges Jacob was one of the two most prominent Parisian master menuisiers, producing carved, painted and gilded beds and seat furniture and upholstery work for the French royal châteaux, in the early Neoclassical style that is usually associated with Louis Seize.Jacob arrived in Paris in 1754 and...

 in 1787 that had straight, tapering stop-fluted legs

During the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, the domain of Rambouillet became bien national
Biens nationaux
Biens nationaux, or "national property", was a concept in French history. During the French Revolution, the possessions of the Roman Catholic Church were declared national property by the decree of November 2, 1789. These were sold to resolve the financial crisis that caused the Revolution...

, the castle being emptied of its furnishings and the gardens and surrounding park falling into neglect.

During the reign of Napoleon I
Napoleon I
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

, Rambouillet was included in his liste civile (list of government-owned property at the disposal of the head of state). The emperor came several times to Rambouillet, the last being on the night of 29–30 June 1815, on his way to exile to Saint Helena
Saint Helena
Saint Helena , named after St Helena of Constantinople, is an island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha which also includes Ascension Island and the islands of Tristan da Cunha...

. Among the reminders of Napoléon are the Pompeian style bathroom with its small bathtub and the exquisite balcony built to link the emperor's apartment to that of his second wife, the empress Marie-Louise
Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma
Marie Louise of Austria was the second wife of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French and later Duchess of Parma...

. Another reminder of Napoléon was the splendid Allée de Cyprès chauves de Louisiane, a double-lined bald cypress (Taxodium distichum
Taxodium distichum
Taxodium distichum is a species of conifer native to the southeastern United States.-Characteristics:...

) avenue.

At the time of the Bourbon Restoration
Bourbon Restoration
The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period following the successive events of the French Revolution , the end of the First Republic , and then the forcible end of the First French Empire under Napoleon  – when a coalition of European powers restored by arms the monarchy to the...

, Rambouillet was again included in the royal liste civile. Fifteen years after Napoleon I, Charles X
Charles X of France
Charles X was known for most of his life as the Comte d'Artois before he reigned as King of France and of Navarre from 16 September 1824 until 2 August 1830. A younger brother to Kings Louis XVI and Louis XVIII, he supported the latter in exile and eventually succeeded him...

's road to exile also started at Rambouillet. On 2 August 1830, he signed his abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

 here in favour of his nine-year old grandson, the Duke of Bordeaux. It took twenty minutes to talk his son, the Duke of Angoulême
Louis-Antoine, Duke of Angouleme
Louis Antoine of France, Duke of Angoulême was the eldest son of Charles X of France and, from 1824 to 1836, the last Dauphin of France...

, into, reluctantly, countersigning the document, thus abandoning his rights to the throne of France in favor of his nephew.

From 1830 to 1848, the domain of Rambouillet, which had belonged to his grandfather, the duc de Penthièvre, was not included in Louis Philippe I's liste civile; however, begged to do so by the townspeople, the emperor Napoléon III, who reigned from 1852 to 1870, requested its inclusion in his.

After the fall of Napoleon III in 1870, which saw the beginning of the French Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

, the domain of Rambouillet was leased from 1870 to 1883 to the duc de la Trémoille
La Trémoille
Members of the House of La Trémoille, were part of an old French family which derives its name from a village in the department of Vienne....

. In February 1896, Rambouillet received a visit from President Félix Faure
Félix Faure
Félix François Faure was President of France from 1895 until his death.-Biography:Félix François Faure was born in Paris, the son of a small furniture maker...

 who then decided to spend his summers there with his family. Since, the château of Rambouillet has become the summer residence of France's Presidents of the Republic, who entertain, and used to invite to hunting parties many foreign dignitaries, princes and heads of state. As a part-time residence of the French president, it is sometimes referred to as the Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

 of Rambouillet.

On 23 August 1944, prior to the liberation of Paris, General Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 arrived at Rambouillet and set up his headquarters in the castle where, in the evening, he met General Philippe Leclerc
Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque
Philippe François Marie, comte de Hauteclocque, then Leclerc de Hauteclocque, by a 1945 decree that incorporated his French Resistance alias Jacques-Philippe Leclerc to his name, , was a French general during World War II...

 who, at the head of his French 2nd Armored Division (2e Division blindée, more affectionately known in France as La Deuxième DB), had mission to liberate Paris. Part of the French 2nd Armored Division was to leave from Rambouillet at dawn the following day, on its march "to capture Paris". On August 25, around 2 p.m., "both wrought with emotion and filled with serenity", General de Gaulle left Rambouillet by car to enter "Paris libérée".

In November 1975, the first "G6" summit was organized in the château by French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing is a French centre-right politician who was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981...

 for the heads of the world's leading industrialized countries. Attending were: Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

 (United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

), Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 (United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

), Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro was an Italian politician and the 39th Prime Minister of Italy, from 1963 to 1968, and then from 1974 to 1976. He was one of Italy's longest-serving post-war Prime Ministers, holding power for a combined total of more than six years....

Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

), Takeo Miki
Takeo Miki
was a Japanese politician and the 41st Prime Minister of Japan.-Background summary:Born in Awa, Tokushima, Miki graduated from Meiji University in Tokyo...

Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

) and Helmut Schmidt
Helmut Schmidt
Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt is a German Social Democratic politician who served as Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982. Prior to becoming chancellor, he had served as Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance. He had also served briefly as Minister of Economics and as acting...

 (West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....


The château de Rambouillet continues to be used as a venue for bilateral summits and, in February 1999, was host to the negotiations on Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

. (See Kosovo War
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...


On 26 December 1999, Hurricane Lothar
Lothar (storm)
Lothar is the name of a low-pressure system that resulted in a violent extratropical cyclone sweeping across Central Europe on December 26, 1999, causing major damage in France, southern Germany, and Switzerland. Wind speeds reached around 150 km/h in lower areas and more than 250 km/h on...

 hit the northern half of France, wreaking havoc to forests, parks and buildings. The Forest of Rambouillet
Forest of Rambouillet
The Forest of Rambouillet or Forest of Yveline is a large forest covering some 200 km², located to the west of Paris, in the Île-de-France region in northern France...

lost hundreds of thousands of trees, and among the over five thousand downed trees in the park of Rambouillet, was the handsome, historical Allée de Cyprès chauves de Louisiane, the bald cypress avenue planted in 1810.


  • André Castelot, Charles X, La fin d'un monde, Librairie Académique Perrin, Paris, 1988.
  • Svend Eriksen, 1974. Early Neo-Classicism in France, Faber & Faber, London, 1974.
  • G. Lenotre, Le Château de Rambouillet, six siècles d'histoire, Calmann-Lévy, Paris, 1930; new publication, Denoël, Paris, 1984.
  • Françoise Winieska, Août 1944, la Libération de Rambouillet, France, Société Historique et Archéologique de Rambouillet et de l'Yveline (SHARY), Rambouillet, 1999, ISBN 2-9514047-0-0, English version by author under the title August 1944, the Liberation of Rambouillet, France, published by SHARY under same cover, ISBN 2-9514047-0-0.

External links

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