Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Viollet-le-Duc is best known for resurrecting Notre Dame from the ruin it had become by the mid 19th century but he also had his hands in a lot of other projects including the restoration of Carcassone in the southwest corner of France and the renovation of Pierrefonds, a castle just north of Paris, that became an occasional residence of Napoleon III.  Pierrefonds got its start in the 14th century as a military fortress guarding routes between Flanders and Burgundy.  In 1616, Cardinal Richelieu had it destroyed since it was always in the hands of those pesky Protestants.  It lay in shambles for centuries until Viollet-le-Duc was commissioned to bring it back to life.  And he did so in a manner that he imagined to be true to its medieval origins but ended up being more fantastic and over the top than scholars now believe to be accurate. 

If you've visited the Neuschwanstein, the castle built by Mad Ludwig of Bavaria around the same time, you will see the parallels between these two spaces, especially in their theatricality.  (Neuschwanstein has been featured in any number of films and TV shows; Pierrefonds is the backdrop for the popular BBC series Merlin.)  Then again, sometimes a little wild and crazy is just what you need to get through the day. 

About one hour and twenty minutes north of Paris
Open daily


Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] said...

I went to Pierrefonds as well this year! It was so beautiful :)

Jeanne said...

Great post! I was wondering if it is possible to take the train there from Paris. I always have good intentions to explore but once I arrive I just can't seem to leave the city.

Anne said...

Jeanne: I got a ride so can't say from personal experience but you can apparently take a train from Gare du Nord to Compiegne and then there is a bus to Pierrefonds.

Starman said...

I love Merlin and I knew this was the castle used to depict Camelot, but I haven't yet made the trek up there to see it. Maybe this is the year.

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