Chateau de Bagatelle and the Count of Artois
Bagatelle is located in the northern section of the Bois de Boulogne.
This elegant chateau replaces a small hunting lodge built for Marshal d’Estrées.
The name Bagatelle comes from the Italian Bagatella, meaning object of small value or trifle but also debauchery.
The Count of Artois, the brother of King Louis XVI, bought the crumbling hunting lodge in the late 18th century.
He replaced it with the small chateau, which he turned into a place of debauchery… hence its nickname!
A chateau built in 3 months
Queen Marie Antoinette challenged her brother-in-law to build Bagatelle in less than three months!
The Comte d’Artois commissioned the architect Francois-Joseph Bélanger with the construction of this gem of neo-Classical architecture.
Bélanger hired hundreds of workers and gardeners in order to complete this project, somewhat extravagant.
Bagatelle was built in two months and five days, from 21 September to 26 November 1777, at the centre of a beautifully landscaped park!
The motto of the Latin poet Horace was ‘borrowed’ – Parva sed apta – small but adequate – and carved on the pediment.
Bagatelle after the Revolution to present day
Bagatelle became State property during the French Revolution, however, escaped demolition.
In the early 19th century Emperor Napoleon used Bagatelle as a home for his young son, the King of Rome.
Bagatelle was returned to the royal family during the Bourbon Restoration.
Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford purchased it in 1835 and his son inherited it in 1842.
In 1848 Hertford established his important collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture and decorative pieces of art in the chateau.
He built the gate of honour, new stables and the stunning Orangerie in the early 1860s.
Hertford died in 1870 and bequeathed Bagatelle to his illegitimate son Sir Richard Wallace.
Wallace built the Trianon, the two guard pavilions and the two terraces in the early 1870s.
Sir John Murray Scott, a distant cousin of the Marquess of Hertford and heir to Bagatelle, inherited the property and sold it to the City of Paris in 1905.
The art collections were sold; they are now grouped in the Wallace Collection in London.
Guided tours of the Château of Bagatelle are held on Sundays and holidays.
However, the Trianon and Orangerie offer permanent and temporary exhibitions on Decorative Arts, History, Furniture, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Romance.
The Orangerie has served as the venue for the Chopin Festival in Paris since 1983; this event takes place every June and July.
Les Jardins de Bagatelle
The attractive chateau is known for its exquisite gardens.
These include the stunning orangerie, English style gardens, a rose garden and even a vegetable garden!
The garden started an as Anglo-Chinese style garden.
The Count of Artois indeed commissioned the Scottish landscape architect Thomas Blaikie with its creation.
This romantic style replaced the extreme rigour of the formal gardens or Jardins à la Française that were highly popular until the late 18th century.
Romantic or English gardens made great use of man-made streams, waterfalls and ponds, winding paths and alleys weaving among flower beds, islands of greenery and Chinese pagodas.
Bagatelle’s current pagoda is a faithful replica of the original one, which was purchased in 1906 by an Englishman who exported it in England.
The Commissioner of the Gardens of the City of Paris Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier indeed re-landscaped the gardens of Bagatelle from 1905 onward.
He worked with the engineer Alphand.
Alphand had been placed in charge of the rehabilitation works of the Bois de Boulogne by Baron Haussmann and Napoleon III.
Forestier planted vast collections of annual and perennial plants and flowers.
However, he preserved the harmony and romantic style of the existing arrangements.
The Parc de Bagatelle therefore consists of a series of small gardens, each planted with a single species of flowers.
Windy trails swerve between lawns planted with profusion of flower beds, shrubs, colourful foliage and flower, and spring bulbs.
Colours change with the seasons.
They enhance the Chinese pagoda, which seem to be the favourite meeting point of the many peacocks who populate the gardens.
One of the trails leads to a grotto and a charming gazebo accessible by a small bridge spanning a small pond.
As you stroll along you discover ancient ruins – most likely those of the Abbaye de Longchamp.
Roseraie – Rose garden
Forestier created the rose garden and iris garden.
The Roseraie now has over 1,200 varieties of roses.
Each June it hosts the International Competition of Roses Nouvelles de Bagatelle, an annual event he founded in 1907.
Forestier also created the Bassin des Nymphéas, a flower that became ‘trendy’ after the paintings by Claude Monet.
The pond was also planted with extensive collections of aquatic plants, including of course water lilies and lotuses.
The Bassin des Nymphéas is surrounded by various species of trees, among which a majestic 140-year old weeping beech.
The gardens of Bagatelle spread over 24 hectares and are of exceptional beauty!
A Must Visit when in Paris if you like gardens!
Opening hours chateau: Guided tours of the chateau and park: every Sunday and PH at 3pm from 1April-31October
Daily temporary exhibitions: Summer: 11am-6pm – Winter: 11am-4.30pm
Opening hours gardens: 9.30am-8pm
Directions: 16th district
Bus 43 and 93 – get off at Place de Bagatelle
Coordinates: Lat 48.870923 – Long 2.246693