Antiqua Print Gallery Château de Saint-Cloud
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Château de Saint-Cloud

The Château de Saint-Cloud was a royal château in France, built on a magnificent site overlooking the Seine at Saint-Cloud in Hauts-de-Seine, about 10 kilometres west of Paris. Today it is a large park on the outskirts of the capital and is owned by the state, but the area as a whole has had a large part to play in the history of France. The castle's grounds are part of today's Parc de Saint-Cloud.

Site History

Hôtel d'Aulnay

The Hôtel d'Aulnay on the site was expanded into a château in the 16th century by the Gondi banking family. The château was further expanded by Phillipe de France, duc d'Orléans in the 17th century, and finally enlarged by Marie-Antoinette in the 1780s. After occupation by Napoleon I and Napoleon III, the château was destroyed in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War.

16th century: the Gondi

The Gondi stemmed from a family of Florentine bankers established at Lyon in the first years of the sixteenth century, who had arrived at the court of France in 1543 in the train of Catherine de' Medici. During the 1570s, the Queen offered Jérôme de Gondi a dwelling at Saint-Cloud, the Hôtel d'Aulnay, which became the nucleus of the château with a right-angled wing that looked out on a terrace.
The main front faced south, with a wing that terminated in a pavilion affording a handsome view over the Seine river. Henri III installed himself in this house in order to conduct the siege of Paris during the Wars of Religion, and here he was assassinated by the monk Jacques Clément.
The Grotto at Saint-Cloud, by Israël Silvestre.
After the death of Jérôme de Gondi in 1604, the château was sold in 1618 by his son Jean-Baptiste II de Gondi to Jean de Bueil, comte de Sancerre, who died shortly afterwards. The château was bought back by Jean-François de Gondi, archbishop of Paris. His embellishment notably included gardens by Thomas Francine.
After the death of Jean-François de Gondi in 1654, the château was inherited in turn by Philippe-Emmanuel de Gondi and then by his nephew Henri de Gondi, known as the duc de Retz. The duc de Retz sold the property in 1655 to Barthélemy Hervart, a banker of German extraction who was intendant then surintendant des finances. He enlarged the park to twelve hectares and did considerable rebuilding. He built a grande cascade (not the present one) in the park.
Garden details that seem to be of this phase of Saint-Cloud were drawn by Israël Silvestre. It was built à l'italienne, with an invisibly flat roof and frescoed façades. Its gardens descended in a series of terraces to the Seine, provided with fountains at each level.
The Hôtel de Gondi, Paris, became in the seventeenth century the Hôtel de Condé.

(Source Wikipedia)