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From the banks of the Loing, the image is both captivating and intriguing - what is this austere wall erected on the heights of the city? A medieval dungeon designed to repel enemies? The real story, which is quite different, lies behind the facade. As a royal building, the property has always been a place of residence, but its revival and indescribable, unique charm are owed to the passion of a 19th century art collector. The Romanesque forms are dressed with a wooden decor of neo-Gothic inspiration embellished with paintings, and together, they seal the union of mineral strength and artistic imagination. Now at the height of her glory, this exquisite "great lady" surrounded by gardens generously opens her doors for a royal stay.
My family bought this keep, a former royal residence, in 1880 when it was in ruins. They decided to make it their pleasure home. I then inherited it in 1989 at the age of 25.
The Donjon de Moret-sur-Loing was built in 1160 by Louis VI. It is a Romanesque-style keep located in the heart of the village. This former home of the Kings of France is now a family home, on a more human scale. It still holds the charm of yesteryear, with its French-style lounges, woodwork and terraced gardens that extend to the river Loing.
The Donjon de Moret-sur-Loing has been listed in the Supplementary Inventory of Historical Monuments since 28 April 1926. Dating back to 1160 when it was built by Louis VI, the Donjon was a royal residence and several kings of France stayed here such as Louis VI, Philippe Auguste, Saint Louis, Philippe IV le Bel and Henri IV. The latter then sold the estate to his superintendent of finances, Sully, who carried out extensive work including the creation of the French gardens. Most of the interior fittings date from Jacqueline de Bueil, Countess of Moret and mistress of King Henry IV. The Donjon was then transformed into a royal prison under the reign of Louis XIV to lock up Fouquet in particular under the watch of the King's musketeers. The last person of royal blood to have stayed here was Marie Lesczinka before her marriage to Louis XV at Fontainebleau. As it was a royal symbol, the Donjon was burnt down a few years after the French Revolution. It then fell into ruin until 1880 when Mr. Joanne Thirion bought it. He carried out restoration work with the help of his brother Eugène, a landscape painter. They restored the floors and transformed it into a pleasure home. Since then, the Donjon has remained in the same family.
The Donjon de Moret-sur-Loing is a rare and privileged place, both intimate and friendly, elegant and steeped in history. Near Fontainebleau, guests will appreciate this historic setting for the garden, the family spirit, the unique character of the house, the volumes, the history, and proximity to the village and shops. We also have several experiences on offer for our guests such as candlelit dinners, perfume workshops, wine initiation and tastings with an oenologist, private concerts (jazz or classical), excursions and picnic in the forest of Fontainebleau, and guided tours of the Donjon with the owner.
When staying at the Donjon, guests tend not to stray too far! But the Fontainebleau market is a great spot to buy good local products. Treating yourself to gourmet break at the end of the day with a cup of tea and barley sugar from the nuns of Moret is a must! My favourite restaurant for a dinner out is the Bistrot du Broc in Bourron-Marlotte, a charming village on the edge of the forest just seven kilometers from Moret. During the day, friends and families can enjoy activities such as forest hikes to discover the Denecourt trails on foot or by donkey, as well as more intimate visits such as the house of animal painter Rosa Bonheur in the beautiful village of Thomery, or the Napoleon III theatre at the Château de Fontainebleau which is now open to the public after being abandoned for 140 years!
The whole property and the garden are available for filming and photo shoots. The guards' room on the second floor is particularly popular with professionals for its volumes, dimensions and 19th century paintings.