Out of the beaten track, Compiegne, 60 km north from Paris, is a lovely old city at the edge of a marvelous royal forest. It also boasts a royal Palace, inhabited by Napoleon, and a spectacular medieval castle. A great place for a day out of Paris.
Compiegne Forest is, with Fontainebleau Forest, one of the great royal hunting forests of France. Sixty kilometers north of Paris by A1 freeway, close to Charles de Gaulle Paris Airport, it has superb oak and beech trees. Compiegne Forest attracts horse and bicycle riders and is a perfect destination from Paris for a day. One hour train from Paris to Compiegne. Train tickets. Rent a bicycle at the station and you are ready for a great day.
Top Paris gardens.
At the edge of Compiegne Forest, the Compiegne Palace is, alongside Versailles and Fontainebleau, one of the three largest royal and imperial residences in France. Built by Louis XV, it was remodelled by Napoleon I and Napoleon III.
On 12 April 1807, Napoleon gave the order to completely refurbish Compiègne. The Emperor and the Empress occupied what were the grandest apartments of the First French Empire. His nephew, Napoleon III, Emperor of France between 1852 and 1870, had a particular affinity for the palace and organised the famous Series there in the Autumn. Over four to six weeks, around one hundred guests were invited to attend.
The Compiegne Palace comprises four main apartments : the apartments of the Emperor, the Empress, the King of Rome and the prince’s ‘double’ apartment. They bear testament to its occupation in the XIXth century.
In Compiegne Forest, the romantic and massive Pierrefonds Castle brings you back to the Middle Ages. Erected in the late 14th century by Duke Louis of Orleans, the chateau was taken down in the 17th century.
It was in ruins when Napoleon III decided to commission architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc to rebuild it. He applied his architectural designs to create the ideal chateau, such as would have existed in the Middle Ages.
Also in Compiegne Forest, you can visit the Rethondes Armistice Clearing where World War One formally ended on November 11th 1918. Web site.
You can visit a replica of the carriage where Marshall Foch accepted the surrender of the German armies.
The Compiegne Forest and City are especially recommended in the fall. The colors of the leaves vary from yellow to red. A great excursion from Paris.