Published on October 18th, 2014 | by Maureen Youngblood0
Some 18 kilometres east of Paris, the magnificently restored Château de Champs-sur-Marne
France is graced with so many beautiful and historic chateaux, each with their own interesting and surprising story of how came to be, who owned, who visited it, what happened there and what is it like now. Chateau de Champs-sur-Marne is no exception. As with all chateaux, it has an interesting and intriguing past.
The construction of this beautiful Chateau, 18 km east of Paris, began in 1699 by the then treasurer, Charles Renouard de la Touane. Msr. Renouard de Touane hired the royal architect Pierre Bullet to design the Chateau. After declaring bankruptcy, Msr. Renouard de la Touane was able to convince Paul Poisson de Bourvalais to take over the ownership; he hired the original architect’s son, Jean-Baptiste Bullet de Chamblain, who was able to finish construction in 1706.
It was in 1716 that the owner, Paul Poisson de Bourvalais, was sentenced to the Bastille on charges of embezzlement; the Chateau was seized and ownership was then transferred to the Crown. The royals really saw no need for another Chateau, so it was sold to the daughter of King Louis XIV of France, Princess de Conti. However, in the first year of her ownership, the year 1718, she deeded the estate to her first cousin, duc de la Valliere, who, in turn, left it to his son, Louis Cesar de La Baume Le Blanc upon his death in 1739.
Champs-sur-Marne, newly inherited by the current Duc de La Vallière had a rococo, Chinese salon added to the residence along with wall paintings created by Christophe Huet. It was during this time, around 1750, that the duke entertained many well-known and famous writers such as Diderot, Voltaire and Francois-Augustin de Paradis de Moncrif. It was also around 1750 that the duke had a new chateau built at Montrouge and Chateau de Champs-sur-Marne was actually abandoned. Not able to find a buyer for Chateau de Champs-sur-Marne, the duke was forced to rent the grand residence. One of his first tenants was Madame de Pompadour, the former mistress to King Louis XV. Her rent was 12,000 livres a year, a small amount compared to the extensive renovations she implemented at her new rental property. She lived at Champs-sur-Marne until 1759 and in 1763 the chateau was finally purchased by Gabriel Michel de Tharon, a successful ship owner.
Ownership again changed hands in 1855 when Ernest Santerre bought Chateau Champs-sur-Marne. Changing owners once again in 1895, the comte Louis Cahen d’Anvers purchased and completely restored the entire structure. Part of this restoration was to repurpose the woodwork that had been removed from the Hotel de Mayenne in Paris; it was crafted into the rooms of the Chateau. Ownership passed to Louis’ son, Charles d’Anvers, the final individual owner, who, in 1935 gifted the residence and grounds to the State.
In 1959 the chateau underwent another renovation in order to become the presidential residence; it remained the presidential residence until 1974. In 1979 the Chateau was officially opened to the public. After 27 years of receiving public visitors, the chateau was closed in 2006 and re-opened in June of 2013 after 6 years of restoration. Currently on display are some of the best collections of fine art, ceramics, furniture, paintings and manuscripts.
The beautiful Chateau de Champs-sur-Marne is the epitome of French architecture, design and style; it is for this reason it is frequently chosen as a backdrop for motion pictures; over 80 have been filmed there.
The Chateau and the surrounding gardens are considered a leisure mansion with 85 hectares of parkland that combine both the French and English style of gardens. Though not nearly as large and expansive as Versailles or Fontainebleau, Chateau Champs-sur-Marne is no less grand or elegant and most importantly, traditionally French.