Between the Palais de Compiègne, the medieval castle of Pierrefonds and a starred restaurant nestled in the woods, the forest of Compiègne and its surroundings offer extensively enough to spend a beautiful weekend, quiet and away from crowds. Renowned for hunting, favored pastime of kings of France, the forest of Compiegne attracted rulers for generations. The palace of the city becomes the most royal residence north of Paris. Their passages have deeply marked the region, leaving behind a remarkable heritage in Pierrefonds as Compiegne.
Compiègne forest and its treasures
Between visits, take a natural break in the heart of the largest forest in Picardy which extends from Compiègne to Pierrefonds. It is easily accessible on foot or by bike, even from the station located on the other bank of the Oise. Dozens of hiking trails and 70 km of cycle paths dot the 14,500 hectares of this green lung. Among them, the trail of the Frog, more educational, is specially designed for children.
If you have limited time, rather take the conventional circuit of Compiegne, Pierrefonds and Saint-Jean-aux-Bois. Incidentally, climb to the viewpoint of Fine Mountains, the spectacular view of the palace is worth the effort. Several “remarkable trees” are scattered around like an oak tree 800 years and a huge cedar of Lebanon.
And after exercise, pleasure: the pond Saint-Pierre, with its barbecues installed nearby, is the ideal spot for a picnic. This is also where is the starting point of a course in tree climbing. Even here, the memory of the Emperor is tangible. At the edge of the pond stands the beautiful Eugenie hunting lodge. This place served as a rest area between the two castles of Compiègne and Pierrefonds.
Landlocked in the heart of the forest, Saint-Jean-aux-Bois Provincial exudes an amazing atmosphere. With its stone houses and parts of bocce is like a piece of South adrift, stranded in the northern woods. This village full of charm, with barely 350 souls, has several points of interest: a 12th century abbey with a superb organ, ruins classified historic monument, and a Michelin-starred restaurant guide, the Inn At the right idea. It is also here that was written the famous song lovers of St. John in 1937!
Perched on the hills of Pierrefonds, the Gothic castle inspired by the Renaissance majestically watches over the village. Yet it has not always been so. Built in the late Middle Ages, the castle was destroyed in 1617 and then fell into oblivion for two centuries and a half.
The palace of Compiegne becoming too small to accommodate all their guests, Napoleon III and Eugenie Pierrefonds choose as a second home. The emperor falls under the spell of the medieval fortress: it is classified as historical monument ruins and began its restoration from 1857. The architect Viollet-le-Duc is to maneuver the company lasts 25 years . Napoleon never see the end.
It is not difficult to understand the choice of the emperor at first glance, this stone armor that splits the sky impresses. In the yard, take the time to observe the many sculptures that adorn the facades of the castle: the fantastic animals, cats on roofs, refined stone lace. We recommend to take the tour with a guide (free), which will tell you a lot of exciting stories.
Inside, you can not miss the room Preuses, the most sumptuous room of the castle. His particuliarity ? A fireplace dominated by the sculpture of nine preuses which extends to the ceiling. Even before its renovation, Napoleon III finally decided to make the castle a museum. Some paintings reflect the success of the chimney to the general public, from the 19th century! The weather is nice, you can rent paddle boats to explore the castle from another point of view, from the village lake.