A must-see

article | Reading time3 min

The Chinese Salon

Panneaux peints d'arabesques, oiseaux et personnages d'un angle du salon chinois

Let yourself be dazzled by the décor of the Salon chinois, a rarity to be discovered during a visit to the château de Champs-sur-Marne.

It's fashionable to travel locally!

An 18th-century passion

The trade developed by the Compagnie des Indes Orientales (East India Company), created by Colbert in 1664, gave rise to a veritable passion among the great and good of the court. Everyone collected porcelain, Chinese lacquer furniture and curios...

In 1748, the Duc de la Vallière, owner of the château de Champs-sur-Marne, commissioned the famous decorator Christophe Huet to create a new exotic décor to cover the woodwork of his reception room.

Some time earlier, King Louis XV had commissioned Madame de Pompadour to create a "chinoiserie" décor at château de Choisy. The Duc de la Vallière, a great courtier and close friend of the favorite, followed this illustrious example.

He brought "China" into the salon!

Vue d'ensemble du salon chinois
The Chinese Room

© Patrick Cadet / Centre des monuments nationaux

A delightful but highly fantasized China

These charming, delicately touched decorations are supposed to represent daily life in China, as Europe saw it in the 18th century: ostrich hunting (in China?!), fishing, gardening and country pleasures.

Ten large panels house the main scenes. Some dance, others play papegai (a game of skill of European origin, in which the aim is to hit a wooden bird perched at the top of a mast with an arrow), blind man's bluff or even shuttlecock. The games of love are not forgotten, even if they are more discreet.

Two special compositions frame the fireplace overmantel. The first depicts Chinese or Turkish (?) figures examining a celestial globe, while the second shows them setting their watches on a sundial. Both complement a barometer and clock set into the woodwork.

Panneau peint représentant une scène de chasse à l'autruche
Ostrich hunting

© Patrick Cadet / Centre des monuments nationaux

Rescuing an exceptional setting

A rarity worth discovering

In 1895, when Louis and Louise Cahen d'Anvers bought the Champs-sur-Marne estate, the décor of the Chinese salon had fallen into serious disrepair. Architect and decorator Walter André Destailleur , inspired by 18th century descriptions, restored the salon to its former splendor.

In 2006, after the ceiling collapsed due to a fungus attack, the château was closed for 7 years.

Until June 2013, when it was reopened to the public, the château underwent a major restoration, the first of which was the elegant Chinese salon.

Today, the decorations in the château de Champs-sur-Marne are exceptional and have become extremely rare, due to their fragility. The grand and petite singerie at Château de Chantilly are also still visible in France.

Vue du décor du plafond :  corniche dorée, et décor peint d'arabesques et oiseaux
The restored ceiling: arabesques and birds

© Jean-Luc Paillé / Centre des monuments nationaux

also to discover