My Travel Blog

Chateau de Pierrefonds – Lisa’s Hands Down Favorite

Of all the chateaux that we have visited Chateau de Pierrefonds is Lisa’s favorite.  Located not to far from the city of Compiegne this fairytale like castle stands guard over the beautiful little village of Pierrefonds.

Chateau de Pierrefonds guarding the town of Pierrefonds.

Note the artwork set into the walls.

Pierrefonds long and storied history begins in the 12th century when a small castle was built on the site.  It wasn’t until King Charles VI in 1392 gave the site to his brother Louis, Duke of Orleans that the magnificent Chateau de Pierrefonds was started.  From 1393 until his death in 1407 the entire castle was rebuilt.  Two hundred years later during Louis XIII’s reign, Richelieu the secretary of state for war sent troops to take the castle.  After storming the chateau they attempted to destroy the entire structure, but it proved to be too great a task.  Pierrefonds sat in ruins for two centuries until Napoleon I bought it in 1810 for less than 3,000 francs.  By then it must have been a real fixer upper, but a heck of a buy. It wasn’t until Napoleon III got into the act that the real restoration took place when he asked Viollet-le-Duc to do a complete restoration.

Every castle has to have a draw bridge.

This guy looks pretty serious.

Chateau de Pierrefonds has been used in many films including Highlander: The Series, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc and the 1998 version of The Man in the Iron Mask.  It was also used in the BBC TV series Merlin as the setting for Camelot. There is a permanent art exhibit of 19th century masterpieces produced by the Monduit workshops. These were the same shops that produced the copper sheets that cover the framework that Gustave Eiffel designed for the Statue of Liberty.  They employed up 600 workmen at the time the statue was being built.  General Ulysses S. Grant paid a visit in 1877 while they were forming the metal sheets for the statue.  It was said that more than 300,000 people visited the shops while the Statue of Liberty was being constructed.


This started out as a flat piece of metal. Can you imagine what it took to hammer it into a beautiful piece of art by the artisans at the Monduit workshops?

Another piece of art from the Monduit workshops.

Nice entry hall, if you like high ceilings.

When we visited the castle Lisa asked if I would buy Chateau de Pierrefonds for her.  To bad she didn’t ask me back in 1810 when the price was only 3,000 francs. I might have considered it.  Today I couldn’t even afford the heating bill let alone the maintenance costs.  I’m the one that gets to clean the floors on Rabelo. Can you imagine what it takes to clean the floors at Chateau de Pierrefonds? I’d be at it all day, make that all year?

Not a bad view from the castle.

We rode our bikes by this mound of sugar beats on the way to Chateau de Pierrefonds.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.