The Chateau de Champs-sur-Marne is one of the most beautiful castles near Paris — and it could not be easier to get to. (No car required, just a quick RER and then bus/walk.)
Also, it is beautiful inside — not all historic chateaux are furnished, but this one is, and magnificently:
This room above, the Music Room, was my favorite, and not for all the incredible chandeliers (though I am totally here for the chandeliers.) See that design on the windows, to the left? It’s actually the work of an artist, Jean-Luc Bichaud: Concert d’oiseaux, or the slightly less mellifluous Bird Concert. It was beautiful, especially with the formal gardens in the background!
Compared to other French castles — like the Chateau de Vincennes, where the Marquis de Sade was imprisoned, numerous French kings were born, and England’s Henry V died — this one doesn’t have an illustrious history. It was built (in 1699), for a money guy, Charles Renouard de la Touane, and then sold to another money guy, Paul Poisson, after Monsieur Charles entered into bankruptcy. Then Poisson got thrown into the Bastille for embezzlement, and it was claimed by the government, then sold back into private hands. And etcetera, for another few hundred years, until it was opened to the public for our touristic pleasure.
Above is the Salon Chinois, the most beautiful room in the building. Here and in the adjoining room — through the door seen on the right — are 18th-century paintings by Christophe Huet, whose birthday is celebrated by the castle. (See here for some details of his work, on the castle’s Facebook page.)
This is the same room, from the other side, and here’s a detail of one of the sofas:
You can see why this castle was used as a shooting location for Marie Antoinette. (Which by the way is an awesome movie that I highly recommend.)
This room below is the children’s room, and what I love about is, besides that rather creepy painting, is the stucco walls, which have been treated to look like marble. I saw another room done to similar effect at the Chateau de Maisons, on the exact opposite side of Paris.
And then finally, I thought this staircase was beautiful, if not as beautiful as the one at Chateau de Maisons.
In sum, this is a beautiful castle right near Paris, and I was there and back home in time for lunch. Another big plus: It was easy and fast getting there by public transportation. (Directions.) And it’s right around the corner — 20 minutes — from both Disneyland Paris and the TGV/Ouigo terminal at Marne-la-Vallée. Highly recommended!
Château de Champs-sur-Marne, 31 Rue de Paris, 77420 Champs-sur-Marne. Closed some holidays, weekdays during January, for lunch and on Tuesdays. 8€.