Dating to the 15th century, the Château of Pierrefonds was comprehensively recreated by architect Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century for Napoleon III.
The château on the southeast edge of the Forest of Compiègne, north east of Paris, between Villers-Cotterêts and Compiègne, gives the impression that it was specifically built for a swashbuckling film with its richly varied painted and sculpted decor, its defensive system and drawbridge, walkways and drop-boxes, not to forget the three reconstructions of medieval siege engines. And so it has, having hosted such films as Highlander; The Story of Joan of Arc, and the 1998 version of The Man in the Iron Mask.
All images © Centre des monuments nationaux
In 1617, during the early days of Louis XIII's reign, the castle was besieged and taken by troops sent by Richelieu, the Secretary of State for War. Its demolition was started, but not carried through to the end because of the enormity of the task. The exterior works were razed, the roofs destroyed and holes made in the towers and curtain walls.
The castle remained a ruin for more than two centuries. Napoleon I bought it in 1810 for less than 3,000 francs. During the 19th century, it became a "romantic ruin". The Château has been classified as a Monument Historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1848.
Pierrefonds Tourist Office
rue Louis d' Orléans
Tel: 03 44 42 81 44