Chateau de la Ferté Milon
When you are thinking about where to go for a day trip, and some of the top chateaux to visit, i am sure that the chateau at La Ferte-Milon is probably not on your list. To be honest, i would be surprised if you have even heard of it.
Small and unfinished the remains of this 15th century folley sit on top of hill overlooking the small town of La Ferte-Milon.
Why would you want to go there? Because you will likely be the only person there. La Ferté-Milon is a small town to the east of Paris, there are no major museums, no Michelin starred restaurants, but if you are looking for a break from the hustle of Paris, and to spend some time in the fresh air away from other tourists, then La Ferté-Milon might just be your place.
The chateau construction began in 1393 under the auspecises of Louis of Orleans. It was probably based somewhat on an existing castle. However, the work stopped when Louis of Orleans died in 1407. Much of what was built was demolished on the orders of Henry IV in 1594. Today it is essentially the font wall of the castle that remains.
The nice thing is you can combine it with other sights on the same line. For example, there is an excellent WWI museum at Meaux where you need to change trains for La Ferté-Milon anyway.
What to see
The chateau back wall - this is now a park. On the back side there is a small park with great views over La Ferte Milon (as you are quite high up. Two Russian canons sit near the chateau. Inside the remains of the walls you can see the remains of old fireplaces sitting on the second and third level, now suspended in the air, and where the floor beams were laid.
The chateau front wall - Here you can see the main frontage of the chateau as it would have appeared. The towers on the sides are partially opened so you can see the staircases inside. Above the main entrance is an inlaid sculpture of "the coronation of the virgin"
The chateau ruin itself is 38m high and 200m long.
Also you can explore La Ferté Milon township. While there is not a lot to see there the highlights are:
The Jean Racine Museum - A small museum devoted to documents relating to the 17th Century playwright in his grandmothers house, where he lived for a time in his youth.
The Musée Régional du Machinisme Agricole - This museum claims to have the best collection of tractors in France (50 of them).
The Passerelle Eiffel - A bridge across the Ourcq canal designed by Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower, designed 20 years before the Tower.
The old town - A very small old town at the bottom of the cliff with a nice old waterwheel and some old buildings.
As the trains leave La Ferté-Milon (mostly) on the hour, it is possible to arrive, visit the chateau, and be back in time for the train out within an hour which is useful if you want to combine a day trip to La Ferté-Milon with somewhere else on the P line (like Meaux).
Things to do
How to get there
La Ferté-Milon is linked to Paris by the transilien line trains.
Trains for La Ferté-Milon leave from Gare de l'Est station regularly and the train ride is about 1 hour. You need a train going to Chateau Thierry. You will need to change, either in Meaux or in Trilport. Both of these are very small train stations and there will be no trouble finding the right train - they will be the ones going to La Ferté-Milon.
It is a 20 - 30 minute walk to the chateau from the train station. Buses are not available.
When the train arrives at La Ferté-Milon, follow along the tracks in the same direction the train was heading until you hit the main road of the town.
Turn right and follow the road through the town. Pretty shortly you will be able to see the chateau on the hill.
Once you have crossed the River you will come to a T-intersection. Turn left (following the signs to "Musee Jean Racine" and then the next right, up the small cobbled street called Rue des Bouchers. Walk up past the church, on to Rue des Rats and keep right. Shortly you should arrive at Rue du Vieux Chateau - the chateau ruins are on your right.
Approximate Distance from Paris: 88km/55mi.
Time to get there: 1 hour
Transport Method: Regional Train (line P) from Gare de l'Est normally with a change in Meaux or Trilport
Approximate Price: Chateau is free
Worth: An hour or two maximum
(Available in French only)
Open every day (there is no ticket booth)