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Come to Compiegne

Written by  Professor Barry Goldsmith

There are many great palaces near Paris, just a day-trip away. However, if you want to see a completely furnished French palace, you must visit the Palace of Compiegne. Compiegne is so “undiscovered” that the official website is in French. Compiegne’s history ties in to Versailles and even Vienna’s elegant Schoenbrunn Palace. It was the meeting place of Europe’s royalty.

After leaving her home, Schoenbrunn Palace, Marie Antoinette first met her intended (the future Louis XVI) at Compiegne, arriving for her nuptials in 1770. Forty years later, Napoleon met his second wife, Archduchess Marie-Louise upon her arrival, also from Schoenbrunn. Compiegne has links to other European royalty. Deposed Spanish King Carlos IV took up residence there in 1808, as did King Louis and Queen Hortense of Holland. King Louis-Philippe’s daughter, Marie-Louise d’Orleans, married King Leopold I, first king of the new nation of Belgium. In many palaces across the world, the coronation of a new monarch means getting rid of the furniture in the style of the previous regime and replacing it with the latest. In Compiegne, Marie Antoinette’s Gaming Room exists side by side with the Napoleon and Josephine rooms, the Napoleon and Marie-Louise rooms, the King Louis-Philippe rooms and the rooms of Napoleon’s nephew, Napoleon III and Eugenie. A tour through Compiegne is like a tour through the history of French interior design.
If you want to visit a nearby UNESCO site in a nearby French city, visit Amiens, with France’s great soaring Gothic cathedral, one of the world’s tallest Gothic structures. It’s only an hour away by train. And if you tire of sightseeing the past, visit Amiens’ Jules Verne’s home, where he wrote his fantasies of the future.

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