Discover the Château d'Écouen, a Renaissance jewel and national museum

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Published by My de Sortiraparis, Laurent de Sortiraparis · Photos by My de Sortiraparis · Published on October 3rd, 2023 at 06:36 p.m.
Explore the Château d'Écouen, home to the National Renaissance Museum, located 20 km from Paris. Immerse yourself in the history of this exceptional site and admire its unique collections.

Château d'Écouen, twenty kilometers north of Paris, overlooks the plain of the Pays de France and the forest of Chantilly. This historic site is now home to the exceptional collections of the Musée National de la Renaissance. Formerly the property of Renaissance lord Anne de Montmorency, the château bears the imprint of the ambitions and successes of this powerful man, patron of the arts and aesthete.

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Anne de Montmorency was an avant-garde collector and heir to a colossal fortune, which he increased thanks to a judicious acquisitions policy, his marriage to Madeleine de Savoie and royal favor. By the time of his death in 1567, he owned some 130 châteaux in France and two residences in Paris, including the Hôtel de la rue Sainte-Avoye, with its gallery painted by Nicolo dell'Abbate. His architectural achievements include the Petit Château at Chantilly (1559) and the gallery-bridge at Fère-en-Tardenois, both designed by Jean Bullant. But Écouen remains his masterpiece.

The de Montmorency family owned the land on which a medieval château once stood. Anne de Montmorency had this castle demolished in 1538 to build a residence worthy of his title of Constable. The work lasted until 1555, and brought together the most prestigious craftsmen of the time, both French and foreign, many of whom had worked on the royal construction site at Fontainebleau. The château was adorned with pavements, stained glass, panelling, friezes, painted landscapes, marble and cast iron. The decorative arts followed, with enamels by Léonard Limosin, pottery from Saint-Porchaire, Italian majolica, tapestries and paintings by artists such as Rosso.

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The château remained in the Connétable family until 1632, when Henri de Montmorency was executed on the orders of Richelieu. After his confiscation, Écouen was returned to his sister, Charlotte d'Angoulême. In 1696, the Duchesse de Joyeuse, who had no descendants, bequeathed the property to the Condé family, who already owned Chantilly. The château remained in their possession until the French Revolution.

During the Revolution, the château was used as a meeting place, military prison and hospital. In 1805, Napoleon established an educational center for the girls of the Legion of Honor. In October 1807, after the reconstruction of an eastern wing, the school opened its doors under the direction of Madame Campan. Thousands of girls were educated here until 1962.

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In 1962, the château was made available to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs to house the Musée National de la Renaissance, which was inaugurated in 1977 after extensive restoration work. Most of the collections come from the Musée de Cluny, notably the splendid David and Bathsheba tapestry, whose imposing dimensions (75 m long by 4.50 m high) have found a home in the Galerie de Psyché. Objects from the château, such as stained-glass windows, pavements, locks and fragments from the east wing, have been integrated into the museography.

It's a delight to discover the Ecouen Chapel in connection with Chantilly. The Écouen chapel, whose history is closely linked to that of Chantilly, was initiated by Anne de Montmorency, Constable of France and advisor to François I and Henri II. Inheriting the estates of Chantilly and Écouen in 1522, he built a residence at Écouen, a precursor of French Renaissance architecture. Montmorency called on the major artists of the time to create a richly decorated place of worship.

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After the French Revolution, the chapel was dismantled and its art objects dispersed. In 1815, the Condé family reclaimed Chantilly, but Château d'Écouen became the home of the young girls of the Legion of Honor. The heir to the last Prince de Condé, Henri d'Orléans, Duc d'Aumale, renovated Chantilly and rebuilt a chapel inspired by the one at Écouen.

Since 1977, the Écouen chapel has housed the first room of the Musée National de la Renaissance, bearing witness to the château's 16th-century history through its architecture and painted vault. The museography brings together works from the Renaissance, with links to other patrons and artistic centers.

Découverte du Château d'Écouen, joyau de la Renaissance et musée nationalDécouverte du Château d'Écouen, joyau de la Renaissance et musée nationalDécouverte du Château d'Écouen, joyau de la Renaissance et musée nationalDécouverte du Château d'Écouen, joyau de la Renaissance et musée national

When you visit Château d'Écouen, you'll discover a unique place, witness to a sumptuous era rich in history. Take advantage of this exceptional experience to admire Renaissance masterpieces and immerse yourself in the world of Anne de Montmorency, a man with a passion for art and culture. Don't miss this opportunity to marvel at the treasures of the National Renaissance Museum and soak up the unique atmosphere of the Château d'Écouen, a true architectural gem.

Practical information

Musée national de la Renaissance - Château d'Écouen Address: 95440 Écouen Telephone: 01 34 38 38 50

Opening hours:

  • Until April 15: 9.30am - 12.45pm and 2pm - 5.15pm
  • April 16 - September 30: 9.30am - 12.45pm and 2pm - 5.45pm
  • Closed Tuesdays, exceptionally open Monday May 1st

Admission fees :

  • Full price: €7
  • Reduced admission: €5.50
  • Free admission for under-26s and all 1st Sundays of the month

Access by public transport:

  • Pass Navigo zero-rating allows season ticket holders to visit the museum at no extra charge.
  • By train (SNCF): Gare du Nord banlieue, line H (track 30 or 31), 25 minutes to Persan-Beaumont/Luzarches via Monsoult. Stop at Écouen-Ézanville station. Then bus 269, direction Garges-Sarcelles (5 min). Stop at Mairie/Château.
  • By RER D: Direction Creil, Garges-Sarcelles stop (15 min). Bus 269 direction Hôtel de ville Attainville, Général Leclerc stop (20 min).

Access by car from Paris: A1 freeway from Porte de la Chapelle, exit at Francilienne (N104) towards Cergy, then take the Écouen exit (D316).

Use this practical information to plan your visit to Château d'Écouen and discover the National Renaissance Museum. Immerse yourself in the history and art of the Renaissance by visiting this exceptional site and its unique collections.

Château d'Écouen - Musée national de la Renaissance  -  A7C8658Château d'Écouen - Musée national de la Renaissance  -  A7C8658Château d'Écouen - Musée national de la Renaissance  -  A7C8658Château d'Écouen - Musée national de la Renaissance  -  A7C8658 Sport and the Renaissance: a free exhibition on ancient sports at the Musée de la Renaissance
The Château d'Ecouen -musée national de la Renaissance invites us to discover 16th-century sports, with the free exhibition "Sport and the Renaissance", on view from July 1 to November 5, 2024. [Read more]

Château d'Écouen - Musée national de la Renaissance  -  A7C8648Château d'Écouen - Musée national de la Renaissance  -  A7C8648Château d'Écouen - Musée national de la Renaissance  -  A7C8648Château d'Écouen - Musée national de la Renaissance  -  A7C8648 Open-air cinema: the 2024 program at the Château d'Ecouen - musée national de la Renaissance
Every summer, the Château d'Ecouen - musée national de la Renaissance offers family-friendly evenings around the 7th art, with its open-air cinema. Discover the free films shown on August 23 and 24, 2024. [Read more]


Practical information

Location

Rue Jean Bullant
95440 Ecouen

Access
Transilien Line H Ecouen-Ezanville station

Prices
1er dimanche du mois: Free
Tarif réduit: €5.5
Plein tarif: €7

Recommended age
For all

Official website
musee-renaissance.fr

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