Les Fontaines: The Rothschilds
The history of the Château, from one side…
Construction of the chateau was commissioned by Baron James de Rothschild when he bought Les Fontaines in 1878. He was looking for a country residence near Paris to relax and organize receptions. Chantilly was then already served by train (since 1859) on the Paris-Lille link. The Paris Gare du Nord – Chantilly trip lasted 45 minutes, compared to 23 minutes by TER today.
Standing near the meadow, we are in front of the eastern facade. We can see bow windows of the left and right pavilions, demonstrating an English influence which can be explained by the British origin of Baron James.
The castle is also famous for its Eiffel-type metal architecture, which gives it great stability – already at the time, this site was a place of innovation!
Unfortunately, the baron died 3 years after the start of the works and never saw the completion of his project which ended in 1882. The baroness continued alone the construction of the castle as well as that of the Normand Farm, originally planned for her son, whom she intended to study in agronomy.
During the Rothschild era, the main entrance to the estate was through the Tourelles (the turrets one can see near the Chantilly railways bridge.
We invite you to go to the other side of the castle.
… to the other
We are facing the west facade.
This one evokes the neo-Louis XIII style. It has high independent French roofs. Cylindrical turrets add a note of neo-Gothic style to the whole. The decor evokes the architecture of the houses on Place des Vosges or Place Dauphine in Paris, from the time of Henri IV.
At the center of the building, above its entrance, is the coat of arms of the Rothschild family with its 5 arrows, one for each of the 5 branches.
The roof, the monumental staircase and the woodwork on the 1st floor have been classified as Historical Monuments since 1999.
The Baroness was very involved in local life: creation of schools, libraries and hospitals in Gouvieux and Berck-sur-Mer. During World War I, she invested time and money in caring for the wounded. She died in 1931. Today, a street still bears her name in Gouvieux.
She bequeathed Les Fontaines to her son, Henri, a doctor and playwright, who preferred to settle in Paris and only occasionally came to the Domaine.