Sunday, June 28, 2015


The château de Saint-Cloud, a country estate owned by the Orléans family on the outskirts of Paris, was bought by Louis XVI for Marie-Antoinette in 1785. The king sold properties owned by the crown in the south of France in order to pay for the palace. Marie-Antoinette thought it was vital to get her children away from the unhealthy environment of Versailles, and Petit Trianon was not far enough way. So many members of the royal family, including Louis himself as a child, had become ill with tuberculosis over the years, and so the Queen wanted to get her children into healthier air. (As it was their oldest son would die of tuberculosis in 1789.) The King put the palace of Saint-Cloud in the Queen's name, which outraged many French people, since a Queen owning property in her own right and having complete control of it was something that had not happened since the middle ages.

Saint-Cloud is mentioned a great deal in the novels Trianon and Madame Royale, since for awhile after the royal family were taken prisoner in October 1789 they were still permitted at times to go to Saint-Cloud for the country air and to get some exercise. During the Restoration of 1815-1830, the royal family used Saint-Cloud as a summer residence. Marie-Thérèse, the daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, would often walk from Saint-Cloud to her sanctuary at Villeneuve l'Étang.

Here is the chapel built by Marie-Antoinette. The photo was taken after the Commune ransacked the palace in 1871.

Above is a recreation of how the palace looked before it was destroyed.

The Bonapartes loved Saint-Cloud and maintained it in great magnificence. Above is the boudoir of Empress Eugénie.

Above is the cascade in the gardens at Saint-Cloud.

During the Commune of 1871, the palace was ruined, and no longer stands. Only the gardens remain, and the chapel built by Marie-Antoinette. Share


Julygirl said...

I find it disturbing when I hear about magnificent architecture or other works of art and beauty being destroyed by people who are too boorish to know or care what they are doing. I believe buildings like that are natiional treasures to the country where they exist.

lara77 said...

I could never understand why the French ALWAYS sunk to such levels of destructive barbarism during their many revolutions. If it was not selling off the priceless contents of Versailles it was burning the Tuileries Palace to the ground as well as beautiful Saint-Cloud.Such wanton acts of violence against a nation's priceless artistic legacy never cease to amaze me.

Matterhorn said...

I remember Princess Henriette of Belgium mentions that the Duc d'Orleans was very resentful over having to sell Saint-Cloud to the King. Of course, I'm sure he was already resentful, but she noted it as an important step in the deterioration of family relations.

Hans-Georg Lundahl said...

Probably not boorishness as much as fanaticism: trying to in a wy emulate the destruction of Pagan Temples at beginning of Christian era.

A isdirected and therefore truly fanatical emulation, since royalty is not an idol.

Leah Marie Brown said...

LOVED this blog post Elena Maria.

I was going to post something on my blog about this in the near future, but I am so busy with the move to Alaska I will share a little here first...

I was visiting Fontainebleau with a writer friend a few years ago. (Forgive me if I have shared this with you already) We met with the curator who gave us a behind the scenes tour of various closed rooms, including one that appeared to be a store room.

Guess what was in that room?

A desk that had once been at Saint Cloud and had belonged to Marie Antoinette. It disappeared - as so many items did - during the Revolution and somehow found its way to an antique shop in New York City. She let me bend down and look at the marking on the underside of the desk that had MA's crest. I wanted to touch it so bad I literally had to clench my hands into fists to stop from reaching out...

I am trying to get a photo of the desk to post on my page and will let you know when I have it.

I love all of the photos you have found to illustrate this piece...especially the recreation of Saint Cloud.