Rothschild Family at Les Fontaines
The history of the château, from a façade…
The construction of the château was commissioned by Baron James de Rothschild when he bought the estate in 1878. He was looking for a country residence close to Paris, to relax and hold receptions. Chantilly was already served by train (since 1859) on the Paris-Lille route. The journey from Paris Gare du Nord to Chantilly took 45 minutes, whereas today it only takes 23 minutes by train.
He then enlarged the original property to a park of 52 hectares.
On the meadow side, we are here on the East side
and the layout of the first-floor bays, called bow-windows, of the side pavilions reflects an English influence, which is 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 that time this site was a place of innovation, sharing and patronage.
Unfortunately, the baron died 3 years after the beginning of the work and never saw the realization of his project which was completed in 1882. The baroness continued the construction of the château and the Normandy Farm, originally planned for her son, whom she intended to study agronomy.
At the time of the Rothschilds, the main entrance to the estate was through the Tourelles.
We invite you to go to the other side of the castle.
… to the other
We are now on the West side.
This façade evokes the neo-Louis XIII style. It is topped by high independent French-style roofs. Cylindrical turrets add a note of neo-gothic style to the whole. The decoration evokes the architecture of the houses of the Place des Vosges or the Place Dauphine, from the time of Henri IV.
In the center of the building, above the entrance, is the coat of arms of the Rothschild family with its 5 arrows, one for each of the 5 branches.
The facades, roofs and the monumental staircase are classified as Historic Monuments since 1999 (*).
The Baroness was very involved in local life: creation of schools, libraries, and hospitals in Gouvieux and Berck-sur-Mer. During the First World War, she invested herself in the care given to 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 came occasionally to the Domaine.
Earlier, in 1911, her sister, Jeanne, had built the Château de Montvillargenne (located 2 km from Les Fontaines) in the same style as Les Fontaines. She died in 1929.
(*) also classified:
- facades, roofs and octagonal pavilion of the Ferme Normande
- facades and rools of the Tourelles
- the fisherman’s hut by the lake