I had been wanting to visit Eu, a little town in Northern Normandy, where the castle hosted the d’Orléans family and lately the Comtesse de Paris and Les Amis du Musée Condé in Chantilly easily convinced me to join them. Partly restored by Duc d’Aumale, the wonderful collector and owner of Chantilly, it belonged to the Brazilian branch of Orléans Bragance and is now a municipal museum. King Louis Philippe used it as a summer residence away from the politics of Paris and received Queen Victoria there twice. Its decoration which we owe to Pierre François Fontaine and architect Eugène Viollet le Duc is a perfect example of 19 th century style. And the furniture lent by the Mobilier National is royal. With a great lunch at La Villa Marine in Le Tréport, the visit was a huge success.
It feels a little bit of a bric a brac when you enter the very confortable house. Souvenirs from many generations of royal French families are hanging on the walls. Deep armchairs, superb wooden floors (parquets) with intricate designs in different woods, walls painted in decorative styles, an elaborate staircase, all the details remind us more of a family home that of a royal residence. One must say that the castle burnt twice and not much of the 16 th century residence is left.
The comte d’Eu who bought it in 1905 from his cousin, modernized the castle and one of the most amusing details are the vertical radiators designed by Viollet le Duc. There is an elevator in the back and the painted walls and ceilings are all very colorful.
Most rooms are lined with wood panelings and they all have very elaborate parquets in mahogany, oak, yoke elm, ebony and rosewood. Which gives a very confortable and relaxed feel to this house situated in the most humid part of Normandy on the channel.
A dining room and a series of salon lead to the Galerie de Guise conceived in the 17 th century and remodeled by Louis Philippe in the 1840’s. The walls are lined with portraits of the Guise, a family from Lorraine, who built the first castle in Eu. One of their daughters, Mary (1515-1560) married King James V of Scotland and was the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. It became a library after it burnt down in 1902 but luckily the paintings had been evacuated.
Since 2001, 141 portraits were bought back by the State and the region and are now proudly hanging on the walls. The gallery is spectacular.
Below the paintings, we discover the most precious series of furniture designed by Jeanselme and covered in Beauvais tapestry after Friedrich Starke’s drawings. It was ordered by Louis Philippe who never saw the pieces completed. It used to be in the drawing rooms of the Senate in Paris and belongs to the Mobilier National.
I found it very moving to see a number of sculptures by the talented Marie d’Orléans, sister of Duc d’Aumale, who was fascinated by Jeanne d’Arc and died too young to develop a full career. She was a student of Ary Scheffer.
The little town of Eu which comprises 7 000 inhabitants, also has a beautiful gothic church and a chapel in the Jesuit school. It is located five miles from Le Tréport where Queen Victoria landed on her visits. And two hours thirty minutes from Paris. You can prolonge your stay and visit Varangeville near Dieppe and its beautiful “Cornish” gardens of rhododendrons on the sea shore.
You can join Les Amis du Musée Condé which helps restore paintings and furniture at Chateau de Chantilly for 50€ a year.
Share this Post