Compiègne and its fabulous Château de Compiègne

Compiègne, a town of some 40,000, sits on the Oise River. We moored just outside the town park where teen bands played to a largely teen audience. The bands need help, although the audience seems to not notice, or perhaps they are just too polite to boo. The grills fill the air with the aroma of sausage, and there’s cheap beer. Overall it’s better than a kick in the head.

Main staircase

But the rest of the town! Architecturally and historically it’s well beyond what it should be given its size. First, the Chateau. Built for Louis XV, who reigned from 1715 (age 5) – 1774, it was renovated by Napoleon. It was one of three royal palaces, Versailles and Fontainbleu are the other two, which tells you a great deal about its magnificence, even if it is a level below Versailles, and perhaps Fontainbleu as well. It was the preferred summer residence nonetheless, known for its excellent hunting as it sits even still on the edge of the large Compiègne Forest.


The Chateau is filled with furniture, but not from Louis XV. These were removed during the French Revolution. What we see now are from Napoleon. They are fine examples of the First French Empire style.

In this Chateau, Marie-Louise was greeted by Napoleon, Alexander of Russia visited, and Leopold I of Belgium married Marie-Louise of Orleans. Napoleon III resided during the entire hunting season. The National Car Museum is housed in the Chateau. There is an excellent and large collection of coaches, early bicycles and motorcycles.

The second very noteworthy structure is the Mairie (City Hall)

mairie compiegne
Maire of Compiègne- just behind me there is also a monument to Joan D’Arc, commemorating her capture by Burgundians in 1430.

The town is of Roman origin. It was called Compendium. It was used for various governing activities by the Merovingian kings. Charles II 823-877 founded the Abbey of Saint-Corneille, now the library. There are several ancient churches. And just outside town is where the Armistice ending WWI was signed, as well as where Hitler humiliated the French in 1940. There is a replica of the train car used for these two events, and an excellent museum.

Comment here (login optional)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.