The Château de Marly was a French former royal castle,
situated 27 km west of Paris in the Yvelines département.
It was built between 1679 and 1683 for Louis XIV as an annexe to Versailles by Jules Hardouin Mansart, Charles Le Brun and
André Le Nôtre. The site was an important source of water for the Château de Versailles fountaines.
The buildings were sold at the French Revolution and demolished in the 19th
century, but the site still shows the main outlines of the gardens.
Château de Marly History
Louis XIV bought the land at Marly in 1677, the year before the final
enlargement of Versailles, which had originally served him as a maison de plaisance for privileged
He needed a new base for such activities and chose to build at Marly where the
site takes the form of a vast re-entrant, of which the principal contour line follows the shape of
a capital U opening towards the valley of the Seine to the north. The high, wooded hills gave a
pleasing sense of privacy and with it intimacy and exclusiveness.
At the focal point of the re-entrant was built the Pavillon du Roi, a two-storey
house with a square ground-plan and with four identical façades. In the earliest designs these
façades are blank except for the quoins. This was because the rich architectural detail of fluted
Corinthian columns and bas-reliefs was achieved by mural painting, mostly by Jacques Rousseau.
The effect was highly colourful. The pilasters imitated the red marble of
Languedoc and the podium verde antico; the bas-reliefs were picked out in gold against a royal
blue. On the same contour line that forms the two arms of the U to the north were built twelve
small pavilions, six on each side, for the King’s guests.
The designs for these by Hardouin Mansart varied between façades proportioned to
the Doric or Ionic order and ornately Baroque compositions with caryatids and panels in low relief.
They faced inwards, over a series of terraced walks, to the Grande Pièce d’Eau, which occupied the
centre of the re-entrant.
To east and west, and set closer in, were the chapel and Salle des Gardes
enclosing an entrance court to the east of the Pavillon du Roi and a building always known as the
‘Perspective’ to the west. It took its name from the great architectural trompe l’oeil painted by
The effect was like that of an open peristyle, similar to the one at the Trianon
de Marbre at Versailles. Between its stately rows of columns appeared two long, colonnaded wings
framing a distant prospect of classical landscape.
The octagonal Salon was the centre of the Pavillon du Roi and the centre of life
at Marly. On four sides glazed doors each gave access to a vestibule. On the other facets were four
fireplaces surmounted by tall, round-arched mirrors. The Salon occupied the full height of the
building; a Corinthian order marked the ground floor and upheld an elaborate entablature. At
first-floor level the pilasters were replaced by caryatids.
In 1694 Hardouin Mansart took over responsibility for the gardens from Le
The gardens were divided into four main areas: that immediately surrounding the
château; the central axis to the north with three large pièces d’eau; the Bosquets de Louveciennes
to the east; and the Bosquets de Marly to the west.
The principle of the bosquet, with its high, flat walls of hornbeam, forming an
open-air extension to the apartments, is well illustrated here in the names—the Vestibule de la
Table, the Cabinet de la Belle Vue and the Salon du Couchant.
The gardens were well supplied with water by the gigantic pump known as the
Machine de Marly (completed 1684), which forced the water of the Seine up to a reservoir above the
gardens. The garden sculpture at Marly was of a more bucolic and light-hearted character than that
at Palace of Versailles.
Marly le Roi Museum - Visitor Information
Located in the Park of Marly, in the town of Marly-le-Roi, the Museum
Promenade, is an interactive illustration of the Chateau de Marly.
It hosts an impressive collection of fine art, decorative art and archeology
that shows in a very interactive way the old former residence of the Sun King.
Musée-Promenade official website: http://www.musee-promenade.fr
Marly le Roi official website: http://www.marlyleroi.fr/
Marly le Roi Park and Museum Map
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