Château de Rambouillet

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The château de Rambouillet is a castle in the town of Rambouillet, Yvelines department, in the Île-de-France region in northern France, 50 km (30 miles) southwest of Paris. It is the summer residence of the Presidents of the French Republic.



The château was originally a fortified manor dating back to 1368 and, although amputated of one of its sides at the time of Napoleon I, it still retains its pentagonal bastioned footprint. King Francis I died there, on 31 March 1547, probably in the imposing medieval tower that bears his name. Like the Hôtel de Rambouillet in Paris, the château was owned by Charles d'Angennes, the marquis de Rambouillet during the reign of Louis XIII[1]. Avenues led directly from the park of the castle into the adjacent game-rich forest. More than 200 square kilometres of forest remain, the remnant of the Forest of Rambouillet, also known as the Forest of Yveline (Forêt de l'Yveline).

In 1783, the château became the private property of king Louis XVI, who bought it from his cousin the duc de Penthièvre as an extension of his hunting grounds[2]. Queen Marie-Antoinette, who accompanied her husband on a visit in November 1783, is said to have exclaimed: "Comment pourrais-je vivre dans cette gothique crapaudière!" (How could I live in such a gothic toadhouse!) However, to induce his wife to like his new acquisition, Louis XVI commissioned in great secret the construction of the renowned Laiterie de la Reine, (the Queen's dairy) [3], where the buckets were of Sèvres porcelain, painted and grained to imitate wood, and the presiding nymph was a marble Amalthea, with the goat that nurtured Jupiter, sculpted by Pierre Julien. A little salon was attached to the dairy itself, with chairs supplied by Georges Jacob in 1787 that had straight, tapering stop-fluted legs[4]

During the French Revolution, the domain of Rambouillet became bien national, the castle being emptied of its furnishings and the gardens and surrounding park falling into neglect[5].

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