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Ile-de-FranceOn the trail of Francis I in the Paris Area

After he became King in 1515, Francis I stayed often in Paris. When he was not downtown in the old Louvre or in some royal mansion in the Marais quarter, he was usually in one of the châteaux located just outside Paris. In 1528 he returned from being held captive in Spain and he decided to make the city more beautiful and to start the construction of major buildings ( The?Cour Carrée? of the Louvre Palace, l?Hôtel de Ville, the St-Eustache Church, etc?), which were finished only after his death. You have to go some distance outside of the
capital to find the four main châteaux built in the Paris region either by Francis I or his Court dignitaries. All are located in the heart of vast, game-filled forests, ideally suited for superb walks. You can discover :
? to the north, the Château of Ecouen, owned by Anne de
Montmorency, the youthful companion of Francis I, Commander-in-chief of the French armies. The château today houses the French Renaissance Museum.
? to the south-east, the Royal Château of Fontainebleau, which was Francis I?s favourite residence.
? to the south-west, the Château of Rambouillet, where Francis I died. It is now one of the summer residences of the French Presidents.
? to the west, the Royal Château of Saint-Germain-en-Laye which Francis I had completely rebuilt.

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