A must-see

article | Reading time5 min

The park

Vue des statues de la terrasse et du parc

Come and discover, stroll through or simply contemplate the château's park and its 85 hectares of nature, featuring French-style paths, ponds and sculptures, as well as woods and meadows!

In the 18th century

A vast estate around the château

The château de Champs-sur-Marne was built in the early 18th century in the midst of a 600-hectare estate of woods, orchards, vegetable gardens, farmland and farms. Above all, it was an estate that had to "make money" for its owner.

  • The woods provide both game and firewood.
  • Orchards and vegetable gardens make the estate self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables.
  • At certain times, greenhouses were even used to grow exotic fruits, such as pineapples, which became very fashionable in the 18th century.

But that's not all! The Champs-sur-Marne estate also boasts two farms and several hundred hectares of meadows, pastures and farmland, offering poultry, eggs, dairy products and cereals.

The jardin de plaisance or jardin de propreté, as A.J. Dezallier d'Argenville calls it, is only a small part of this vast estate, but in the 18th century it was intended to display the magnificence of its owner.

Le château vu depuis le parterre de Diane
The château seen from Diane's parterre

Jean-Pierre Delagarde / Centre des monuments nationaux

The pleasure garden

The pleasure garden surrounding the château was created in the early 18th century by Claude Desgots (1658-1732), nephew of the famous Le Nôtre, gardener to King Louis XIV.

It's a garden that plays with all the codes established by this great gardener: a central axis with a play of perspective where the basins create a trompe l'oeil, and which carries your gaze beyond even its perspective! The regular garden is organized around a parterre of broderies, intimate flowering bosquets, sculptures... It's a garden made to magnify the château.

Allée centrale du jardin à la française
Central avenue of the French garden

Yann Monel / Centre des monuments nationaux

In the 19th century, the creation of the mixed garden

Henri and Achille Duchêne's work for the Cahen d'Anvers family

When the Cahen d'Anvers family bought the estate in 1895, the park was no longer in great shape! The English garden, which had been neglected for some time, needed to be completely redesigned.

The owners called in the famous landscape architects Henri and Achille Duchêne, known for their work for the greatest families and in the most famous parks around the world.

They created a new type of garden: the mixed garden, composed of both a regular or "French garden " and an English garden.

La perspective du jardin à la française
View of the French garden

Yann Monel / Centre des monuments nationaux

Let's take a stroll through the regular garden at Champs!

It marks the determination of the last private owners to follow in the tradition of the Versailles model: from the terrace on the garden side, Henri Duchêne created a grand perspective 900 meters long, stretching down to the Marne. The landmarks of the garden of yesteryear!

Follow the central path to the pool of Scylla, the young nymph transformed into a sea monster. Surrounded by howling wolves and spitting snakes, it has to be said that this lead sculpture is particularly frightening, yet so beautiful in its disarray! It is said to have been designed by Charles Lebrun in the 17th century, perhaps for a Versailles pool.

Détail du bassin de Scylla : la nymphe entourée de monstres marins
Detail of the Scylla basin

Yann Monel / Centre des monuments nationaux

The flowerbeds

Observe the boxwood embroidery, which, depending on the season, creates a riot of color!

Can you make out the second pond in the distance? It projects a spray of water from its center. Don't be fooled: although it appears to be the same size as Scylla, it's actually much larger. This was the genius of the French gardens, which created astonishing optical illusions!

As in the 18th century, two large green parterres frame the embroidery, taking the original names of Parterre de Diane and Parterre d'Apollon. At their center are marble copies of celebrated antique sculptures: L'Apollon du Belvédère and Diane de Versailles.

In fact, all the statues in the park are copies of prestigious sculptures from the royal collections.

The perspective is extended by a gently sloping avenue framed by two large groves with star-shaped intersecting paths, just like in the 18th century!

statue d'Apollon sur son piédestal dans le parc
Statue of Apollo in the center of the parterre

Yann Monel / Centre des monuments nationaux

The English garden

Let your steps guide you to the English garden: watch as an irregular, more "natural" garden, also known as the "English garden", emerges from this central avenue!

It's made up of more sinuous paths winding through meadows (grande and petite prairie) and rounded copses where you can discover remarkable tree species, including two splendid redwoods.

Le parc à l'anglaise vu de drone
A drone view of the English park

Yann Monel / Centre des monuments nationaux

Not to be missed!

Madame's salon, a masterpiece of refinement

Follow Louise Cahen d'Anvers into her garden salon!

Her husband, Louis Cahen d'Anvers, commissioned it specially for her from landscape gardeners Henri and Achille Duchêne. This trellised salon was based on a model published by Antoine Dezallier d'Argenville in 1709.

A pedestal table, a few armchairs and garden benches: a pleasant setting, and Louise invites you to admire the park from this vantage point!

Later, under pressure from the owners, Henri Duchêne adapted the garden to the sporting trend of the late 19th century. He had a tennis court installed to the east of the garden, of which all that remains today is a rather unusual but charming grove!

Le salon de Madame dans le parc en 2020 après sa restauration
The Salon de Madame in 2020 after restoration

Jean-Pierre Delagarde / Centre des monuments nationaux

The park today

A useful garden

Today, a few fruit trees remain, as does a walled vegetable garden tended by employees of an integration project.

In front of the 19th-century orangery, the flower garden, designed by Louise Cahen d'Anvers, consisted of four beds. At the time, its flowers were used to decorate the rooms of the château!

While the current park, which blends two traditions of garden design, was created by landscape architects Henri Duchêne (1841-1902) and his son Achille (1866-1947), it has undergone other, more recent modifications. Take, for example, the design of the broderie parterres under the presidency of Charles de Gaulle .

More recently, the 1999 storm forced us to rethink certain groves and, of course, to replant new trees!

Parterre d'Apollon et l'orangerie vus depuis la terrasse. Sculpture de sphynx et d'un amour au premier plan.
Apollo's parterre and the orangery seen from the terrace

Yann Monel / Centre des monuments nationaux

The park and its statues

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