James de Rothschild's four-star castle
Banker James de Rothschild owned the estate of Ferrières in 1829. Before him, Fouché, minister of the Police in the reign of Napoleon I, lived here.
British architect sir Joseph Paxton designed the new house's plans.
Paxton wasn't a beginner: in 1851, his Crystal Palace in London city caused a stir! Our architect imagined Ferrières castle as a 65 metres long quadrilateral, with two storeys, flanked by four towers in angles.
Oh, but Paxton also designed the landscaped garden (135 hectares) with the vast lawns and huge fountains.
In this vast estate near Paris, lost in the middle of a big forest, Rothschild wanted his house to be as magnificent as possible.
He wanted to put his paintings collection but also welcome all the upper crust of French Second Empire!
Napoleon III himself inaugurated the castle with great pomp in 1862...
The building site began in 1855, and was completed in 1859. Inner decorations (designed by Eugène Lami) continued until 1862.
Just imagine a thousand of domestics, stables housing 80 horses! In the ground floor, the great hall takes up the whole height of the building.
The ultimate in chic? They installed heating system and running water... cold and hot! Kitchens were located in a building linked up with the castle by an underground railway.
But, unfortunately, everything has an end! Ferrières was occupied during World War II.
Furniture and paintings were sold and the poor castle was unoccupied until 1959, when Guy de Rothschild came back and restored rooms which were destroyed by Germans during the War.
In 1975, the estate was sold to the chancellerie des Universités of Paris.