The royal estate of Villers-Cotterêts

    The château is currently closed to the public but has been chosen by the President of the Republic himself to become the "Cité Internationale de la Langue Française". The project has been entrusted to the Centre des Monuments Nationaux (CMN). The CMN is a national institution in charge of care, conservation and enlightenment of many historical places in France such as the castle of Pierrefonds nearby or the famous Mont-Saint-Michel. The château will open its doors in 2022.


    In the meantime, we invite you to pay a visit to the Maison du Projet where you will learn more about the future of this marvelous witness of the French Renaissance.

    In 1530, after his captivity in Madrid, François 1er decided to have a castle built in Villers-Cotterêts mainly because of the surrounding forest of Retz which was, already at that early time, one of the biggest of Europe. The kings and princes of France enjoyed it especially to practice hunting. Architecturally speaking, the château is a pure French Renaissance monument, taking inspiration from the Italian trends. King François 1er particularly liked this castle and very regularly spend weeks here. In August 1539, François 1er signed the Decree of Villers-Cotterêts which introduced the use of French in official acts and laid down the foundations of civil status. His son, King Henri II, signed here the Auld Alliance treaty between France and Scotland to celebrate a new union after François II and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, got married. After decades of kings and queens, the château became the property of the dukes of Orléans (who were direct relatives to the reigning kings) until the French Revolution. Then, from the early 19th century until 2014 and through the wars, the château was turned successively into a nursing home for poor people, a military hospital, a kommandantur and then a retirement house.

    Located nearby the château itself, settled in a small street away from the crowd, the Pavillon Henri II is absolutely the last remaining monument from the original royal estate of the 16th century. This pavilion, regularly opened to the public, houses some treasures coming from the château which were saved during the French Revolution.

    Did you know that Villers-Cotterêts is where Alexandre Dumas was born and raised? The writer of the Three Musketeers was born here, in 1802. From his childhood to his adulthood Alexandre Dumas grew up in these streets, exploring every corner of the town and the forest of Retz. The Alexandre Dumas Museum is dedicated to the Dumas family.

    Château of Villers-Cotterêts  : place Aristide Briand -

    Pavillon Henri II  : impasse du manège +33 6 60 75 52 67 -

    Dumas Museum  : 24 rue Demoustier +33 3 23 96 23 30 -



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