Thursday, May 14, 2009

Alexandre Dumas and the Château of Monte-Cristo

A damp spring afternoon brought myself, Henri and Jacques to the twists and turns of the city streets of Port-Marly with the sultry, electronic voice of Madame GPS guiding our car up the hill where we finally reach the gate and park. Once past the admissions building and gift shop, we were admitted to the grounds of the Chateau by gravelly paths that gave way to an English style garden with rock formations, arches and waterfalls. The crunch of our footfalls in the damp gravel were the only sounds that could be heard as we made our way to the renaissance style Chateau de Monte-Cristo and it’s gothic pavilion, Chateau d’If.

Monte-Cristo became the name of this chateau due to an actress named Madame Melingue. When she asked the coachman to take her to Mr. Dumas’ residence, he was at a loss as to where she meant. In her frustration, she finally just called out “Monte-Cristo” and the coachman knew exactly where to take his passenger. Because Dumas was such a bon vivant and was famous for his dinner parties, he built the pavilion named Chateau d’If across from the house to have peace and quiet to do his work.

This house is a must see for Dumas enthusiasts. It was built in 1844 just after the publication of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte-Cristo. There are 3 floors featuring mostly playbills, letters, books, paintings, and sculpture featuring the works of Alexandre and his son. Being a fan of mosaics, my favorites are the Moorish Room and the stained glass windows throughout the house.

The house was almost destroyed in 1969 to make way for a major property development, but was rescued by the Society of Friends of Alexandre Dumas. As most of his furniture was sold off (Dumas was a lavish spender that liked to throw parties on a regular basis and of course went broke), there are not many everyday furnishings, but the architecture, grounds and remaining contents certainly make this worth the trip.

For more information:
Château de Monte-Cristo
78560 Le Port-Marly
(Yvelines - France)
Phone: + 33 (0)1 39 16 49 49
Website

Hint: Carefully follow the signs ALL THE WAY to the green gate to the Château parking lot. You will drive through a small road with cars parked on both sides. Drive past this as this is parking for a neighboring hospital. Once you get to the green metal gate, press the button and the gate will open for you.


Château d'If.


Château d'If as it can be seen standing in front of the main house.


Château de Monte-Cristo.


Château de Monte-Cristo again (rear view).

8 comments:

  1. Angela! My apologies for responding so late! This is truly embarrassing. How did I ever miss your post? Thank you very much for looking at my blog and I hope to hear from you again. Do you go to France often? Have a great New Year!

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  2. Currently re-reading the count of Monte-Cristo, loved this post, thanks, Peepers

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  3. I am so glad i found your site. Fantastic photos - thank you!!

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  4. Merci Peepers! For more inspiration look up Fort Boyard.

    Lille

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  5. Merci! My wonderful husband took them. Enjoy!

    Lille

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  6. Fascinating story and wonderful pictures, thank you.

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  7. Thank you Sandra. If you have not visited there, I hope you get the chance to go.

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