Château de Marly

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 annex 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 fountains.

The buildings were sold during the French Revolution and demolished in the 19th century, but the site still shows the main outlines of the gardens.

Chateau de Marly 1724

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 house parties.

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 with their intimacy and exclusiveness.

the Machine de Marly

At the focal point of the re-entrant was built the Pavillon du Roi, a two-story 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 colorful. 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 center of the re-entrant.

Machine de Marly

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 Rousseau.

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 center of the Pavillon du Roi and the center 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 the first-floor level, the pilasters were replaced by caryatids.

In 1694 Hardouin Mansart took over responsibility for the gardens from Le Nôtre.

Lake at Chateau de Marly

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 the 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:
Marly le Roi official website:

Marly le Roi Park and Museum Map

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