Isabelle Amans - Oise Tourism
The castle de Compiègne

One Castle, two stories

Built by Charles V in 1380, the castle de Compiègne which will be modified over time, retains its medieval appearance until the 17th century. It was then enlarged with “the great project” of Louis XV and Louis XVI led by the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel and his successor. After the revolution, the castle was restored and redeveloped under Napoleon I and then Napoleon III. 

A residence for the French court

From Charles V to Louis XVI

On the road to Flanders, eighty kilometers from Paris, the castle de Compiègne was a royal and imperial residence whose apartments, beyond the city walls, overlook a forest of more than fourteen thousand hectares. A position that reflects the decision of King Charles V to acquire these lands inside the city to build a castle there, almost completed when he died in 1380.

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The big project

Although Charles V's building was modified over time, it retained a medieval appearance until the XNUMXth century. It is to Louis XV, who was passionate about Compiègne, that we owe the current castle. His ancestors' house being cramped and outdated, he wanted a residence to attach his name to. He asked his first architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel for a “big project” who drew the plans.  

Having become king in 1774, Louis XVI in turn commissioned works from Gabriel's successor, Le Dreux de la Châtre, who followed the main lines of Gabriel's project, realizing - among other things - the new wing overlooking the park, which Marie -Antoinette was going to appropriate the hall of columns... and important interior arrangements such as the king's apartment and that of the queen. It was under his reign that part of the interior decorations that we know were made. 

Bruno Beucher - Oise Tourism
Bruno Beucher - Oise Tourism
Isabelle Amans - Oise Tourism
Oise Tourism

The castle of two emperors

The castle of two emperors

From Napoleon I to Napoleon III

The Revolution led to the dispersion of the furniture in 1795 and only a few pieces have been able to come back today. After the installation of a military prytaneum in 1799, it was necessary to restore this residence to its original function. So Napoleon I gave the order on April 12, 1807 to restore the castle.  


The major works from 1808 to 1810

Immediately, major interior work was launched, under the supervision of the architect Louis-Martin Berthaut. They took place from 1808 to 1810 and led to a new distribution of spaces and above all new decorations with furniture that has partly come down to us.  
The Emperor occupied the former apartment of the king while the Empress was housed at the end of the terrace; the former Queen's apartment became an apartment for a foreign sovereign. Most of the wall decorations are the work of the “Dubois and Redouté” workshops, while the furniture was made by Jacob-Desmalter and Marcion. These are the most complete apartments of the First Empire in France. 

The court at Compiègne under the Second Empire

The Second Empire is inseparable de Compiègne. Napoleon III particularly appreciated the castle, organizing there with the Empress in the autumn the famous "series" which brought together a hundred guests each year for four to six consecutive weeks. Personalities close to power, foreign sovereigns or princes, diplomats, writers, artists, scientists found themselves in the quasi-intimacy of the imperial family. Hunting, excursions, games, concerts and plays occupied the days when the constraints of etiquette were forgotten.  
Arrangements were then made to receive guests and significant contemporary furniture was introduced. The Emperor also built the Galerie Neuve, known as the Galerie Natoire, in order to be able to directly access the Imperial Theatre, which he was building on the other side of the rue d'Ulm, and which remained unfinished in 1870. 



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