The Chapel I thought to be a little disappointing. It does happen to be the only known religious building with a pulpit above the choir. It is quite bare inside, no pews or anything like that, just a few nice stained glass windows.
The entry door is attractive. On the central pillar is Viollet - le -Duc in pilgrim's clothes. You can walk inside and view the Chapel and then go upstairs and look down into it.
The Town Centre is a very compact area close to the Lake and where the Hotel De Ville is located. If you need a Toilet, then look for the signs located close by and they will lead you to them. Behind the Hotel De Ville, is a War Memorial commemorating the residents of Pierrefonds who were killed or missing in World War I and World War II.
I did notice a couple of Restaurants and places where you can buy take-away meals or sit down meals. The Patisserie is a 2min walk away. Also in the area, is the Tourist information centre, and beside the Lake is where the little Tourist Trains departs from.
The lake is situated in the town centre of Pierrefonds. We parked our car beside it, then walked alongside to the Tourist Information centre which is along the same road. I could imagine how popular this Lake would be in warmer weather, the Swan paddleboats wouldn't be sitting idle then! There was plenty of seating along the paved area where the Trees were neatly trimmed, infact, we sat on one of the seats and ate our lunch whilst enjoying our view over the Lake. Some very nice houses and Hotels are beside it.
Just incase your not interested in visiting the Castle interior, do climb the steps to the Castle to see the views over Pierrefonds, it is really worth it and it's FREE. There is a lovely view of the Church, the lake and other impressive buildings of the town.
Also included in the entry price, is a self-guided visit to the crypt. On entering the Crypt, I found the lighting was fairly dull, but in parts, was cleverly lit with brighter and coloured lighting, tastefully done though! I loved wandering around the hundreds of tombs of famous Emperors, Countesses and other important people dating back to the 12th century. Each tomb has information on the person, and many have animals at their feet. Worth seeing for sure!
The medieval Chateau is the main reason I came to Pierrefonds, and probably is the main reason everybody else comes too!
On entering the town by road, this Chateau loomed before us, a big fairytale Castle overlooking the town.
Have you seen the BBC series "MERLIN?"
The Castle is Camelot in the BBC series Merlin. Scenes have been set here since 2008. During the "Monuments and Cinema" national heritage event, you can discover the setting for the series!
Films that have used the Chateau are......The Miracle of the Wolves, The Hunchback ( 1959 ), Grandpa is the resistance ( 1983 ), The Visitors ( 1993 ) Jeanne d'Arc ( 1999 ), Sydney Fox, adventurer ( 1999 ), The Accursed Kings ( 2005 ) and many more.
Self-guided tour with a printed tour guide (available in French, English, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Russian).
This is what we did and PHOTO'S ARE ALLOWED.
Guided tour in French (regularly scheduled, 1-hour tours)
From 2 May to 4 September, open every day from 9:30 AM to 6 PM.
From 5 September to 30 April, open every day except Monday, form 10 AM to 1 PM and from 2 to 5:30 PM.
Doors close 45 minutes before the final closing time.
Closed: 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
Admission IN 2013
Full admission: €7.50
Reduced admission: €4.50
Free for: Visitors under 18 years of age (accompanied by an adult), 18- to 25-year-olds (European Union nationals and non-European residents of France), disabled persons with their caretakers/helpers, and job seekers.
During the next few tips, I will take you for a tour through-out the Chateau
In my opinion, the Preuses room is the standout room in the Chateau. It is 52 m long with a very high arched ceiling. Under the Second Empire, it was used as a reception and gallery room. It's richly decorated with statues, has a display of some armour in a glass case, a wall with many coats of arms, and has columns in the centre where there's a statue of the Emperor Charlemagne, and above him, two angels hold the imperial coat of arms, surmounted by a crown. The pair of fireplaces at the end of this long room, has nine female statues from the medieval legends called the preuses . The nine are there in the guise of Empress Eugenie and her ladies.
The Chateau, although sparsely furnished, is still worth a look through. The Renaissance Chateau, the home of Napoleon III and his wife Eugine, had the interior designed by Viollet le Duc, a gifted interior designer at the time. He hired talented artists and artisans to create the interiors throughout the castle.
The chateau Pierrefonds has 132 rooms, only some of these are open to the public.
A walk through the Chateau begins on the first floor, where the Emperor and Empress would have welcomed guests in the Reception room. Walking further along, is the study, then Napoleon III's and Eugenies bedrooms, both in the Julius Caesar tower. In these rooms, Viollet-le-Duc has used sculpted panelling and stencils of figures with illustrations of animals. The imperial eagle seems to appear everywhere as I walked around the Chateau.
In this area were magnificent pieces pewter, some belonging to a Ship. In one room there was a display in miniature of Castles in France.
I nearly missed all of these sculptures, so I will tell you about them.
As I walked into the main courtyard from the Drawbridge, I found the sculptures located on the left hand side, on and under the arches. I have no idea what the ones under the verandah represent, once again, they look to be mythical monsters, many representing different types of animals, many quite grotesque. I found them fascinating!
That is not all, take a look at the arches themselves. It was here I found a very detailed sculpture telling the story of a Fox trying to catch an kill the chickens. Each archway shows part of the story, culminating at the end with a Chicken which has caught the Fox. The noose is around the Foxes neck and the Chicken has hold of the rope in its beak.
This Castle has the best displays of this type of work I have ever seen, I just wish I knew more about these sculptures.
If you like this type of thing, DON'T FORGET TO LOOK!
More photo's in the travelogue of the mythical creatures that are under the arched verandah.
After paying the entrance fee, it was time to walk across the Drawbridge and into the interior courtyard. If you enjoy statues, then you will be very happy wandering around this courtyard. I just loved the downpipes, which were Dragons with water spurting out of their mouths. Then, on the steps were quite big mythical creatures, one looking like a Pelican's head on a Frog's body! The Eagle was similar. Looking around this courtyard, I found many gargoyles and sculptures of all types of animals.
This is the castle in the village of pierrfonds.Where they film the BBC TV progamme of merlin. it is not a ruin and you can see two floors of the castle lovely decorations and lovely empty rooms but it is really worth going to see.
Although le-Duc was not a sculptor, he was fabulous at drawing and sketching. He drew figures to animate his creation, which had no such remains. He farmed these out to accomplished artists and placed them in his design. A charming bas-relief of the Annunciation graces the south curtain wall. Each tower had a name hero and figure; a set of vicious salamanders guard the grand entry staircase and on its trumeau is a patron whom we do not know. And a fine St. George killing the dragon is on the drawbridge (is this metal?).
The south side of the castle, like each of the other sides presents corner towers and a central tower (8 in all). Behind the central tower on this side is the massive keep with the royal residential quarters. Each tower has a name and a sculpted protagonist on its face. The central tower on this side is named Cesar and the right(SE) one, Charlemagne. Between these two towers a heavy battlemented curtain wall is encountered. Each tower is massive and very tall surmounted by two defensive levels and capped. (Le-Duc designed the upper levels since he ran out of old stones and guidelines indicating how they were originally topped). After a short climb, a moat is reached and crossed through a sturdy iron and stone barrier into a grassy forecourt (les Grandes Lices) where jousting once took place. Beyond is the double drawbridge through the walls leading into the courtyard.
The irregular quadrangle follows the shape of thenclosing 4 sided fortress. On entering, the first thing that hits the eye is the equestrian statue of Louis d'Orleans (1868; Fremiet) standing before the monumental main staircase in the NE corner. To the left there is an incline leading to the Constable's quarters and the kitchens. To the right the Guest Quarters and the Chapel entrance. The West side of the courtyard holdsan arcade surmounted by a 75m gallery, a floor above that and dormers. The arches are basket-handle in type.
The outside of the Chapel is a further example of Viollet-le-Duc's theory of how to expand the Gothic style. Here he enlarges the voussoir arch and includes the lancet windows below it as a giant tympanum. He caps the Rose window with a broken arch that echoes the voussoir arch. In contrast the doorway is covered by a decorated basket-handle arch. Be aware that you have never seen such an arrangement before and that it all Gothic! There are three statues at the ground level associated with the door. At the left is Louis d'Orleans and at the right Valentine de Milan (we guess his wife). On the trumeau is St. James of Compostela but the head under the hat is our hero, none other than Eugene-Emmanuel himself. (See our General Tip on him for a close-up of it). There are statues between the lancet windows as well.