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To survive, you must tell stories…(“,)

The short and rich life of the abandoned Château de la Solitude of Plessis-Robinson

3 min read

Château de la Solitude, literally “Castle of Solitude”, is located in the heart of the Bois de la Solitude, in the south of the Hauts-de-Seine, France.
From 1613 this site belonged to the religious order of the Feuillants resulting from a reform of the Cistercian order.
In 1881, Jean-Baptiste Toulet bought a plot following the seizure of church property. He built two properties there and laid out a rugged garden adorned with ponds, large trees, two chalets, a Dutch greenhouse and a gardener’s house.
Marie-Philiberte Marquis bought the property in 1898, she added a new plot to it and built a middle-class neo-Gothic style house called “Château de la Solitude” which gives its name to the site.
With a name like that, it was to be expected that this little castle would end up abandoned!

Located in a wooded park on the territory of the municipaly of Plessis-Robinson, the neo-Gothic style castle was built in 1903 by a wealthy Parisian chocolatier, François-Philibert Marquis, who in 1818 opened a chocolate and tea shop in the Passage des Panoramas. Very quickly his business prospered, to the point that eight addresses, soberly named “Maison François Marquis”, opened all over the country capital during the 19th century.
Marie-Philiberte Marquis, the first owner of this astonishing building, was his granddaughter and, when her grandfather, then her father, died, she was immensely rich. She intended to let it be known with this residence that she had built in 1903, with frills and ornaments of all kinds, large arched windows, sculptures scattered here and there and more.
Basically, It was one of the most beautiful residences in the area, and its wealthy heiress lived there for ten years.
After her death, the property was transformed into a private clinic, where René Viviani (1863-1925), former President of the Council, spent his last days.
The writer Raymond Radiguet used it as the backdrop for his novel Le Bal du Comte d’Orgel, published posthumously in 1924.
Then, from 1937 to 1956, the Château de la Solitude hosted a Carmelite convent. The members of this rigorous order which imposes isolation and silence will remain there until the end of the 1950s.

When the nuns left, the property was bought by the Ministry of National Education, which set up a technical college there for young single mothers. In 2016, the film “Elles…Les Filles du Plessis” tells the story of these young single mothers and their living conditions.
All of this in barely sixty years, since the place was definitively abandoned in 1976!
The closure of the establishment, in fact, marked the beginning of the decline of the castle.
The building quickly fell into disrepair and, in 1977 and 1987, fires ravaged it, leaving only a few sections of walls.
Now the park surrounding these ruins is state property but managed by the General Council of Hauts-de-Seine.
It is mainly made up of oaks and chestnuts and is home to some wild animal species.
It should be noted, however, that the building is protected by gates and that it is not advisable to cross them.