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Sunday, 2 October 2016

A visit to the PALACE OF COMPIÈGNE | The Castle of PIERREFONDS | An excursion with some of my students Ornamental Woodcarving

 A visit to the PALACE OF COMPIÈGNE

A visit to the Castle (Palace) of Compiègne 
and the castle of Pierrefonds.
Ornamental woodcarving student’s visit.

For many years now, in company with the students in training for ornamental woodcarving, we make an annual excursion. Versailles Palace is one of these places and they are looking forward to visit it, but this year I have chosen a wonderful destination in the north of France.
In mid-July (2015), a bit late as normally, it seemed a good idea to visit the castle (palace) of Compiègne and the castle of Pierrefonds. Compiegne and Pierrefonds are to completely different historic buildings, but they had in common that they had same owner/occupant.

A visit to Compiègne Castle / view from the garden.

The Palace of Compiègne.  The rooms on the first floor
From Maaseik, in Belgium(Where I live), direction Compiègne, it takes about 3 ½ hrs driving and is well doable; Pierrefonds is just 15 minutes away from Compiegne. Compiegne is known for being the start point of the cycling race Paris-Roubaix. And here was the place where the Germans surrender during the First World War, in a train car just outside Compiegne.
Compiègne Castle is a castle which is still undiscovered by mass tourism, situated in a beautiful historic center. Beautiful sandstone buildings and homes, you notice that there is an atmosphere “that tells you that once this must have been an important place to be”, the same image you get in the old town of Versailles.
The choice of a visit to Compiègne was mainly because of the unique, beautiful preserved, historic interiors dating back to the late 18th century to mid-19th century. Period rooms crammed with furniture in Empire style (around 1810) and Napoleon III style (around 1860). It was pleasant to walk around, affordable ticket (7, 5 euro) and for 2 more euros you can have the audio guide in order to have more information.

Empress’ bedroom / Chateau de Compiègne.


Chateau Compiègne was one of the residences of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (Empire style) and 50 years later, of Emperor Napoleon III (Napoleon III style or 2nd empire). Compiegne has unique, beautiful preserved, historic interiors. We had a bit of luck, there was an exhibition running, an exhibition over the Empire decorative arts between 1800 -1815. For me, personally, this was a comprehensive retrospective. And all this beauty was included in the entry ticket, really worthy.
I will definitely put more attention to the Empire style and to this castle in my next blog entry.


One of the many rooms of the exhibition. | Palace of Compiègne


Chateau Pierrefonds 
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The Castle of PIERREFONDS


Chateau Pierrefonds was originally a medieval fortress, which fell into disrepair and was restored and reconstructed around 1860 by Napoleon II orders. Napoleon III made of it a place of residence.
But –again- no crowds. Later that day I even had the impression that there were more visitors around Pierrefonds Castle than in Chateau Compiegne. This is probably due to the charisma and romantic image of a “fortress”, and has a great appeal to the younger tourists, which usually do not have such interest in dusty rooms full of history and furniture.
It becomes apparent that the restoration made by the architect Viollet-le-Duc was good, following the style of other castles from the same period. The interior of the castle offers an overview of historic rooms in neo-style, from neo-Gothic to neo-renaissance.



We found many woodcarvings, but the quality and originality are exceptional. There is an abundance of ornamentation in stone and stucco of remarkable craftsmanship, you need to stand still and absorb the beauty of the work. Even stone ornaments can be the source of inspiration for a woodcarver. The entry ticket to this castle, individual visitor, is 7, 50 euros. If you visit both places, you can ask for combination ticket.

 An excursion with some of my students Ornamental Woodcarving

 In the garden of Chateau Compiegne.

Translation by Lis Alvarado

Here, a brief photo description:


Chateau Compiègne
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A visit to the PALACE OF COMPIÈGNE



Emperor’s bedroom | The Palace of Compiègne


Room with flowers / Chateau de Compiègne.

Blue Room, Compiègne.

Empress dining room / Chateau de Compiègne


Compiègne Castle / Imperial dining room, detail.



Chateau de Pierrefonds
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The Castle of PIERREFONDS




The Castle of PIERREFONDS | Napoleon III bedroom









Carving details, Reception room.




Ornament in stone / ceiling spiral staircase.



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