Château de Meudon


The Château de Meudon was a former royal residence in France. It is most commonly associated with the Grand Dauphin the only son of Louis XIV who made it his personal residence. However, on the death of the Dauphin the property reverted to the crown and was used by the famous Duchess of Berry (a granddaughter of Louis XIV) and was later ignored under Louis XV and Louis XVI, but became the official residence of the King of Rome from 1812, and was occupied by Jérôme Bonaparte under the First Empire. The main building was largely destroyed in a fire in 1871, and it is now the site of the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon.

Computor generated image of the building as it would have appeared during the lifetime of the Grand Dauphin.



There was originally a small manor on the site which was given to the Duchess of Étampes, a mistress of Francis I of France.[1] The family remodelled the building in around 1540 when the property was given to the Cardinal de Lorraine. At the Cardinal's death in 1574, Meudon reverted to the House of Guise until 1654. In 1679, the château was sold by Servien's heir to Louvois, the minister of Louis XIV, who continued to improve it inside and out, until his death in 1691. Above all, he commissioned André Le Nôtre to construct grand gardens and fountains fed by elaborate hydraulic works. In June 1695, Louis XIV purchased Meudon from the widow of Louvois, with the intention of installing his only legitimate child le Grand Dauphin in the premises.[1] A brilliant period followed. The Dauphin employed Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Following the death of the Dauphin the property was briefly used by his son Louis, Duke of Burgundy, Dauphin of France. It was then later given to the Duchess of Berry in 1718.[2]

Louis XV employed Meudon as a hunting lodge. Although his mistress, Madame de Pompadour, was installed in the nearby Château de Bellevue, Meudon was eclipsed in his favour by the Château de Choisy. Meudon declined further under Louis XVI, the parterres overgrown, the basins emptied, the park let piecemeal to tenant farmers.

In 1870, the terraces of Meudon were part of the strategic defenses of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War, and the château, damaged by shelling,[6] was occupied by Prussian forces. Forty-eight hours after the signing of the armistice, in January 1871, Meudon caught fire. It burned for three days, until only some exterior walls were left standing



  1. 1.0 1.1 Karl Baedeker, Paris and Its Environs: With Routes from London to Paris; Handbook for (Leipzig, K. Baedeker; New York, C. Scribner, 1900), p. 298
  2. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, A History of the Château de la Muette (Paris, OECD Publishing, 1999), pp. 57–58