Friday, 3 April 2015

Château de la Muette

The history of the Château de la Muette stretches back to the end of the 16th century. From 1606 it became the property of the crown which it remained until 1792. Up until 1716 the château had served as a royal residence for when the royal family was on tour. In 1716 it was given to Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orlèans, Duchesse de Berry who was the daughter of the Regent.
The Duchesse called upon Antoine Watteau to carry out the fine carvings of the salons. She was later visited by Peter the Great during his stay in France. Eventually, the Duchesse died at la Muette after a birth that proved too much to bear.

Louis XV became the new owner of la Muette and would use it as a pleasant retreat where he could entertain his mistresses. Three of the Nesle-sisters were brought here as were Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry. Not much remains of the Duchesse de Berry's château since Louis XV had it entirely rebuilt and greatly expanded.

In 1764 Louis-Auguste was granted possession of la Muette and it housed Marie Antoinette when she arrived in France. It is said that Louis XVI spent the happiest days of his life there with his young wife. It was also here that Marie Antoinette's brother, Joseph II, visited incognito. Actually, Louis XVI's interest in natural science meant that he gave a part of the ground over to the cultivation of potatoes - these had not been used for feeding humans in Europe yet (apart from Ireland but that is a whole different story). It was also from this château that the first hot-air balloon was launched in 1783.

The original château was demolished in 1793 and the one that stands in its' place is somewhat resembling it.

View from the gardens in 1730

Plan of la Muette


1 comment:

  1. As widely rumored through Court gossip and known by the young Voltaire, the Duchesse de Berry secluded herself in the castle of la Muette in the Spring of 1717 in order to bring to term an illegitimate pregnancy. Berry was secretly delivered at the end of July 1717 but the young widow had already given birth to a daughter at the end of January 1716, just 5 months after moving in the Luxembourg palace. This first clandestine birth which had been reported through satirical song so that when she had become pregnant again in the Fall of 1716 Berry vainly tried to lessen the scandal by hiding out this new pregnancy in la Muette. She then died in la Muette on 20 July 1719, just over 3 months after undergoing a very dangerous childbirth in her Luxembourg palace. Saint-Simon reports that her autopsy showed she had once more gotten pregnant barely a month after her horrendous delivery which proved indeed too much to bear for the fecund princess, victim of her repeated ill-prepared and undesired pregnancies !