chateau d'ermenonvillePhotos courtesy of Château d'Ermenonville

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A fortress first appeared on this site in 987, during the age of Hugh Capet, king of the Franks. Indeed, it was a popular place for the French kings to visit: King Louis XI often stayed here in the 15th century, as well as King Henri IV in the 16th.

By the 18th century Claude-Louis Lombard, the lord of the castle, changed its structure profoundly from its fortress origins to a grand home suitable for the tastes of the Enlightenment. A tower was pulled down, larger windows set in, and sides extended. In 1763 the marquis René Louis de Girardin took ownership of the property and modernized the interiors and landscaped the surrounding park, creating an extensive English garden. His guest lists included such luminaries as Marie Antoinette, Gustav III of Sweden, and Benjamin Franklin. Jean-Jacque Rousseau died here in 1778 and was buried on a small island in the lake before being transferred sixteen years later to the Pantheon in Paris.

Since that time the property has changed hands a number of times. Complicated families, squabbling heirs, and economic downturns left it in a state of neglect with its contents auctioned off and land parcels sold. During World War II the Germans occupied the the castle. Before opening as a hotel, the castle served as a retirement home and even a Hari Krishna retreat.

Pamela’s Perspective

You don’t often see these kind of old style hotels anymore. People either love the vibe from another age or hate the lack of modern fixtures and furnishings.

The château is located about 20 minutes by car from Charles de Gaulle Airport, which makes it a more interesting option than staying at an airport hotel.


Château d’Ermenonville

An 15th-century castle


rue René de Girardin
60950 Ermenonville
Tel: ++33 (0) 3 44 54 00 26
Hotel website
Reserve with

Fast facts

50 rooms

Double rooms: 110–170 euros
Suites: 173–219 euros
Rates do not include breakfast

Open: all year

Getting there

Ermenonville is about 50 km northeast of Paris, or 22 km northeast of Charles de Gaulle Airport. From N2, take N330 exit toward Senlis. Follow signposts. Your own car is the best way to get there.

What to do

On site: rowboats; poker room
Nearby: golf; Park Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Asterix theme park; Senlis; Château de Chantilly


Nestled in a beautiful wooded park alongside a small river, this château just oozes history. The style here is very old school, a throwback to another era. Don’t come here and expect a modern 21st-century hotel, but rather a sedate, somewhat funky, château hotel experience.

You’ll want to spend a little time exploring the surrounding woodlands or even try rowing a boat around the moat. Even French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, found inspiration here in the the remaining six weeks of his life.

Several of the guest rooms have been renovated, while many of them still need updating—including the bathroom plumbing. That said, rooms are in keeping with the setting of the château. They’re plenty comfortable and most are quite spacious. The best rooms overlook the lake.

A formal dining room offers well regarded classic cuisine. Be sure to make a reservation. Like most hotels in France, dining and breakfast prices are high. The hotel is a popular venue for conferences and meetings.

Something special

curlicue Great historical setting