The Château de Pierrefonds is a medieval castle located in my native Oise department, in the Picardy region of northern France. Built between 1393 and 1407, it looks remarkably/suspiciously great for an old thing, which I was quick to point out when I first saw it.
The castle originally belonged to an aristocrat who had rebelled against Louis XIII. It was besieged and virtually demolished in 1617. It’s only several centuries later in 1850 that Napoleon III of France commissioned architect Viollet-le-Duc to restore the ruins, so he could basically brag about the castle whilst welcoming guests .
Far from just putting up new walls and replacing old wood, Viollet-le-Duc believed the art of restoration involved a mix of respect for the edifice’s legacy as well as an element of creativity and innovation.
For that reason, the castle is an eccentric, timeless hybrid which combines accurate representations of 14th century military architecture with the designer’s interpretation of how it ought to have looked. This explains not only the incredible state of the palace but also, for instance, the presence of weird-looking gargoyles scattered around the place.
The castle has featured in a number of famous films including les Visiteurs, BBC series Merlin and latest adaptation of The Man in the Iron Mask. I encourage you to visit it if you’re in the region, it’s pretty cool. Anyway, here are a few pictures to convince you:
The castle is open for visits from 9.30-6.00 every day of the week. More information here.