Discover French country living in the 18th century just 26 kilometers west of Paris. Château de Champs-sur-Marne was constructed between 1703 and 1708 at the request of Louis XIV’s financier, Paul Poisson de Bourvallais. Within these regal doors enter a lavish world of rococo and Chinese décor. Completely furnished, this historic residence is filled with over 900 expertly crafted items and furnishings, making it one of Centre des monuments nationaux’s most majestic châteaux in the Ile-de-France region. The gardens too are exceptional, and have been awarded the “remarkable gardens” label.
Who resided at this stately country residence? The Princess of Conti, the Dukes de La Vallière, the Marquise de Pompadour and writers including Diderot, Voltaire, Chateaubriand and Proust, to name a few. In 1895 banker Louis Cahen d’Anvers purchased the estate, and settled in. Following extensive restoration work, it was given over to the State by his son in 1935, with family heirlooms still in place. The next occupant became President of the Republic, who hosted Heads of State at this, his official residence.
What makes this visit even more akin to discovering a treasure trove is the current exhibition taking place within the château. Histoire en Costumes de la Belle Époque aux années folles 1890-1930 brings you back to the 18th century through the clothing worn by both men and women. Elegance was part of French savoir-faire, and no details were spared.
Within the various rooms of the château discover thirty costumes, reconstructions of the originals, crafted by Nathalie Harran, director of the Lady of Atours. These costumes replicate the elegant wardrobes of the noble Cahen family and their servants. English and Eastern influences dominate the decor as much as the dress, and fashion trends in everyday garb are evident. Walking through this aristocratic residence, you can imagine the grand balls and candlelit dinners that took place, and how residents and guests dressed for each occasion.
Don’t miss this extraordinary exhibition, on until September 12th, and come back again for the one next year, L’élégance des robes de mariées, all about the elegance of wedding attire.
Château de Champs-sur-Marne, 31 Rue de Paris, 77420 Champs-sur-Marne. Hours: Sunday – Saturday 10-12:15, 1:30-6 / Closed Tuesdays. Admission: 8€.