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  • Writer's pictureCarsten Sprotte

Idyllic Ile-de-France

The Paris area burgeons with châteaux, most of which go overlooked in the shadow of Paris, Versailles, and the Loire Valley. And yet, they are so close at hand!

Nobody is entirely certain where the name Île-de-France comes from, but it does evoke an ile with its shores defined by many rivers: la Seine, la Marne, L'Oise, l'Essonne. A less poetic reference to the same geographic zone, covering 12 000 square km, and home to 12 million people, would be "the greater Paris area". Ile-de-France has concentrated enormous wealth and culture over the past several hundred years. Paris is the center of Ile de France, and it's worth remembering that the city itself is home to several grand châteaux that have taken on new functions since their construction. These include the Louvre, the Palais de Luxembourg, the Palais Royal. and the Château de Vincennes (at the city's edge). The last of these deserves a visit if only for the Sainte-Chapelle within its walls.

Experience the perfection of Vaux-le-Vicomte, or the quirky intimacy of the Château de Monte-Cristo, Inspired? Maybe it's now time to find your own château?

The châteaux of the Paris region make for wonderful day trips if you live or stay in Paris. Below is a list of those worth a visit. Confidentially, there's even one for sale.

Vaux-le-Vicomte : the penultimate château, commissioned by Fouquet who brought together for the first time three eminent artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre, Le Brun). Louis XIV set out to surpass its fame when he commissioned the same trio to design Versailles. Before that happened, Fouquet gave one of the greatest feasts in French history and invited the king, who had Fouquet arrested the morning after, then imprisoned for life!

The next three "runners up" are Chantilly, Fontainebleau, and Rambouillet.

Other noteworthy Paris-area châteaux include:

Monte-Cristo : Once the home of Alexandre Dumas, in Port-Marly

Ecouen : Now the national museum of the Rennaissance

Auvers-sur-l'Oise: a 17th-century château now home to a multimedia presentation of great impressionist painters.

Now, how about that château for sale? See the Domaine de Courson, 35km southwest of Paris. Write to me directly if you are an interested buyer in the 10M€ range.

Would you like to stay in a château and talk to its owner about the purchase experience? Refer to me when you contact the Chateau de la Houssière, a base from which you can also visit Champagne and the Château de Provins.


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