has not only an atmosphere of poetic beauty and serenity on
the edge of the Bois de Boulogne close to the bustle of Paris,
but is also a place of great historical and horticultural
interest. Its history stretches back almost three centuries
including a château which is an 18th century 'folly'. Since
1905, it has belonged to the City of Paris and is used for
exhibitions, concerts and cultural events. The Scottish
Thomas Blaikie was commissioned to lay out the
The charm of Bagatelle lies in
its scenic variety; the water lilies, the big rockery, the
orangery and its floral parterres, the footpaths in tunnels
cut in the greenery and big spaces planted with trees. The
rose garden is laid out in the purest of French styles with
9000 roses from 1000 varieties in bloom in June. In 1992
France established a national collection of
clematis at the
The Bagatelle was originally
just a small house bought by the Maréchal d'Estrées in 1720.
Soon afterwards transformed into a luxurious small castle, it
turned into an extremely costly folly.
Christened "Bagatelle", it was to become a location for
festivities and a hunting meet. In 1770 Count Chimay, the
chief huntsman of Count d'Artois, brother of Louis XVI became
the owner. Invited by Chimay, Count d'Artois developed a
passion for the estate and bought it in 1775. He demolished
the now decaying folly and built another even grander and
quite extraordinary castle. This saw the appearance of a
fabulous estate with a landscaped park.
The cost of the work was estimated at over two million pounds.
Miraculously spared during the Revolution, Bagatelle
experienced several fates: as a restaurant in 1797, then as a
hunting meet under Napoléon, the estate being returned to the
family of Count d'Artois under the Restoration.
Bagatelle was reborn when it was bought by Lord Seymour in
With the addition of a grand entrance on the park side, an
orangery and new stables, the park was extended then
transformed into the Jardin Napoléon III in the second half of
the XIXth century.
Sir Richard Wallace, the adopted son of Lord Seymour, had the
Trianon built and the two present sentry pavilions and the two
terraces which still exist.
In 1905 Bagatelle was sold to the City of Paris.
Just prior to its redevelopment, Bagatelle was a strange
sight. A landscape where rivers, paths and beds of flowers,
created in the XIXth century, softened the surprise effects of
the pre-romantic gardens of the Count d'Artois without
detracting from its spirit.
From 1905, the
J.C.N. Forestier, the Commissioner of the
Jardins de Paris, succeeded in retaining the garden's style
whilst at the same time redeveloping it.
In order to make the public more aware of the growing
popularity of horticulture, J.C.N. Forestier created
temporary and permanent collections of horticultural plants.
He built the famous rose gardens, the
iris garden and the
presenters, designed a pond to improve the presentation of
aquatic plants and water lilies which were so dear to the
painter Claude Monet. In 1907 he organized the first
international competition for new roses.
Jules Gravereaux provided the original roses.
Exhibitions, concerts and various cultural events are
periodically held in the castle and the magnificent Bagatelle