Do you think I’d get to all those books I’ve finished reading by now? How wrong!
Don’t worry, I’ll get there in due time, but not today… Instead, I’m quite excited to tell you about a famous writer’s home I visited: Alexandre Dumas’ fancy palace.
The Chateau de Monte Cristo is close to our new place and on the banks of the Seine, in Port-Marly. Alexandre Dumas has spent most of his fortune to have it built according to his dreams in 1844. He bought a plot after the successful publication of the Musketeers and the Count of Monte Cristo. His friends came to the housewarming party in 1847, but he was soon bankrupted and had to sell this fabulous estate just two years later in 1849, and that wasn’t nearly enough.
The park is romantic (think streams, ponds, waterfalls, fake grotto…) and the house itself is twofold. The main residence is a Renaissance palace with famous writers in sculpture above each window. Above the main entrance, we are greeted by a sculpture of Dumas himself! (Humility was certainly not his main quality) Just across the manicured lawn, a Gothic little fancy house was built as his private writing study. Long before Woolf talked about the famous “room of one’s own”, Dumas wanted a “palace of one’s own”, where he could be alone to write his famous bestsellers.
As we approach the Gothic study called “Chateau d’If”, we were baffled by the unique features that Dumas chose for his place. This guy didn’t know the meaning of “humble-brag”, it certainly is a shrine to Dumas’ own success. All his books’ titles are carved onto the Chateau stones, and there are many sculptures to admire. We couldn’t enter the study itself but peering through the door we could see the desk where he used to sit and write.
The visit was very interesting for adults and kids alike. It put me in the mood for a Dumas novel (most of them are in the public domain), I remember how much fun it was to read The Musketeers, and Twenty Years Later. If you’re in Paris area and want to escape the city center for a great afternoon outing, this would be a nice choice for book lovers. Added bonus: I found a leaflet about other writers’ home in the area!