Xavier Renoux - Oise Tourism

Pierrefonds as inspiration




While the castle was still in ruins, many artists – painters, writers, poets, photographers – came to Pierrefonds to draw inspiration from this romantic setting. We find these ruins on several paintings that you can admire during your visit. Opened to the public in 1867, the Château de Pierrefonds has since achieved the objective that Eugène Viollet-Le-Duc, architect of the restoration, had set himself: to represent the ideal medieval castle. From then on, it once again became a source of inspiration for many artists... Including directors, who saw in these walls an opportunity to set up a marvelous setting.  

Tavernier de Jonquieres / National Library of France
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot / CMN
Louis-Joseph Deflube
Tavernier de Jonquieres / National Library of France

 Polichinelle's life 

The first film shot here was a 1907 silent short, La vie ou The Legend of Polichinelle by Albert Capellani. The story tells of the rescue of an automaton dancer by Polichinelle during the fire of the place. The castle is then visible from the outside but also from the inside during the first four minutes of viewing. You will spot two pieces of armor at the entrance to the Salle des Preuses, which testify to the past of this room, which was intended to house Napoleon III's arms and armor cabinet. 

 A busy acting career 

This first film promises many years of cinema in the castle. Unfortunately, we had to wait until 1948 to see the following cameras arrive in the interior courtyard of Viollet-le-Duc's work. From there, the shootings are more and more regular. The castle sometimes plays the role of a “realistic” medieval fortress as in The Miracle of the Wolves by André Hunebelle (1948), sometimes that of a fairy-tale castle as in Donkey Skin by Jacques Demy (1970) or Cinderella's New Adventures by Lionel Steketee, shot in 2017. He can even make short appearances like in the four-episode mini-series The adventures of young Voltaire by Georges-Marc Benamou, broadcast in January-February 2021. In some episodes during which the young author is sent to prison, the Château de Pierrefonds plays the role of the Bastille! 

 Merlin, the keys to success 

Among all the shootings that took place at the Château de Pierrefonds, the best known remains that of the series in five seasons Merlin, produced by the British channel BBC One. Recounting the adventures of the wizard and Prince Arthur – whose father Uther is still on the throne – the town of Camelot unfolds at the foot of the Château de Pierrefonds, which appears very regularly in the first four seasons of the series. In filming from 2008 to 2012, visitors to the castle could admire certain sets left in the park by the film crews.  

Attracting more than twelve million viewers worldwide from the pilot episode, the castle's popularity grew rapidly among fans of Colin Morgan and Bradley James, interpreters of the main characters. Although the last season – entirely shot in Wales moreover – was broadcast ten years ago, the enthusiasm for the series does not seem to weaken since it still brings many visitors, French and foreign. .  

Harlequin's story / Albert Capellani
Polichinelle's life
Rene Chateau
The miracle of the wolves
Merlin/BBC One
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