Dourdan - a suburb of Paris

Countries and cities

Dourdan is a commune in the Eson department in the southeast of the Ile-de-France region, 44 km from Paris.

Historical background

Durdan, which was destined to become the "cradle of the French kingdom", arose on the site of a Celtic settlement in the 6th century. By the 8th c. it became so significant that the Queen of the Franks, Bertha de Laon, mother of Charlemagne, ordered the construction of the first church here.

Since the Gallo-Roman era, Dourdan has been an important center for the production of ceramics. The status of a royal city and a convenient location at the crossroads of trade routes contributed to its economic prosperity. In the early Middle Ages, the capital of the historical region of Hurepoix became the venue for regular fairs for which in the 12th century. a spacious covered pavilion is being built.

To protect the city, its inhabitants and visiting merchants in the 15th century. around Dourdan, at the direction of J. de Berry, a fortress wall with a length of 1,7 km is being erected. Of its 18 towers by the 21st century. only two and small fragments of the city fortifications in the north and west of the commune have survived. In the 17th century in Dourdan, along with traditional pottery, sericulture and the textile industry are developing.

The 19th century opens a new page in the history of Dourdan. Between 1800 and 1967 it was the capital of the canton in the districts of Etampes and Rambouillet. At this time, the publishing business is flourishing in the town. After the construction of the railway in 1866, the population of the commune increased steadily.

Along with some other suburbs of Paris, Dourdan is becoming a regional resort. On its outskirts, quarters of country houses appear, the architectural style of which still prevails in the city landscape.

The appearance of modern Durdan still harmoniously combines the historical, cultural and natural heritage of the region, which was especially appreciated by E. Zola and M. Audiar.

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Attractions of the suburb

Durdan Castle

The castle of Dourdan (Château Dourdan) was first mentioned in the 10th century. Nestled among vast forests, it was the main residence of the Duke of the Franks, Hugh the Great. In 940, Hugo Capet, the first ruler of the royal Capet dynasty, was born within its walls. In 1220, Philip Auguste ordered that the castle be rebuilt on the model of the Louvre in Paris.

The walls of the renovated castle, 10 m high, form a square with sides of 70 m. It is surrounded by a 7 m deep and 12 m wide moat. Six round watch towers were erected in the southwest, northeast and northwest. In the southeast there is a fortified gate leading to a drawbridge.

A three-storey round donjon with a height of 26 m adjoins the northern part of the castle. The diameter of the tower is 13,6 m with a wall thickness of 3,7 m. It is surrounded by an additional moat through which a bridge is thrown from the side of the castle.

Since 1400, the citadel has been owned by the Duke of Berry, Jean I. After 11 years, it is captured for a short time by Jean the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy. In 1428 Durdan was again taken by storm, this time by the troops of R. Neville, Earl of Salisbury. Once again, the castle is at the center of military action during the wars of religion in 1567 and 1591.

In 1672, Château Dourdan became the property of Philip of Orleans, who adapted it for a prison. In 1852 the castle was bought by the Guyot family, who invested heavily in its restoration. In 1961, the monument of history and architecture was sold to the municipality of Durdan, which opened a museum of the history of the castle in it in 1975.

Parterre Castle

In the "piggy bank" of the architectural heritage of Durdan there is a second castle. In 1725, M.J. Levy, an advisor to King Louis XV, built the Château Parterre and landscaped a spacious French-style garden.

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Under the new owner, Madame Veteljak, in 1739, a public literary salon and a philosophical club were opened in it. After the revolution, the castle housed barracks, and since 1863 the building was occupied by the city hall.

Church Saint Germain de Auxerre

The construction of the oldest church in the city of Saint-Germain-de-Auxerre (L'Eglise Saint Germain del'Auxerrois) dates back to the 12th century.

The original early Gothic temple was partially destroyed by the enemy during the Hundred Years War and during the years of religious clashes, but was restored again in the 15th and 17th centuries. The church was carefully restored in the 19th century. Of particular interest are its unique north portal doors, bells, altar, frescoes and interior sculptures.

Other monuments

To significant architectural monuments of the 19th century. also include the building of the railway station in 1862, the house of the publisher C. Julio and the college complex E. Ovre.

Durdan forest

The largest green area forêt Dourdan in the vicinity of the commune covers an area of ​​1683 hectares. The Orge valley divides it into two unequal parts: the northern forest of Saint-Arno and the southern Huy. Since the reign of the Merovingian dynasty, the forest has remained the hunting ground of the royal family for centuries. Deer, wild boars, roe deer, badgers are still found here and 60 species of birds nest.

The Durdansky forest is mainly an oak forest, turning into a pine forest on sandy heights. It also contains birch, beech, chestnut and ash. Some of the trees are real long-livers: the Ui oak is 170 years old, and the wolf oak is 250 years old.

The real champion of the forest is the oak "6 brothers", whose age has exceeded 5 centuries. The girth of this mighty tree is 6,7 m, and the height of the crown is 33 m. Its main unique feature is that the oak has 6 trunks grown from one acorn.

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Abbey of Our Lady of Uy

On the southern edge of the Dourdan Forest is the Abbey of Our Lady of Ui (Abbaye Notre-Dame del'Ouÿe), which belonged to the monastic order of Grandmont in the Middle Ages. It was founded on the vow of Louis VII, grateful for his salvation in the forest, in 1163. From the 18th century, the abbey became the property of the Benedictine order.

In the 20th century during the Second World War it housed a hospital, and after the war it belonged to the monastic congregation of the Ursulines. In 2015, the monastery complex was acquired by the diocese of Paris with the aim of building a hospice for young parishioners.

Getting there

From Austerlitz train station there is a direct RER C train to the Gare de Dourdan station. Travel time 65 minutes. The Navigo pass is valid in this direction, as is the Mobilis card (zones 1-5).