Maintenon

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This town is home to the chateau de Maintenon, which dates back to the Middle Ages. In 1674, Françoise d'Aubigné, widow of the poet Scarron and governess of Louis XIV’s illegitimate children bought the estate. Widowed at the age of 25, she became the king’s favorite mistress, and secretly wed the king in 1683. Jules Hardouin Mansart build the west wing; the gardens are the work of Le Nôtre.

In 1698 she gave Maintenon to her niece Françoise-Amable d'Aubigné, following her marriage to Adrien Maurice, the duke of Ayen and future duke de Noailles. The property stayed in the Noailles family until it was turned over to a Foundation in the 1980s. Recently the Foundation the county or département with managing it.

The Château de Maintenon is an eclectic mix of architecture. It is completely furnished and is rarely busy, which makes it a nice change from palaces like Versailles and Fontainebleau. 

From the courtyard you can’t help but notice the remains of a huge aqueduct running through the grounds, which have been turned into a golf course. The aqueduct, which was never completed, was designed to bring water to Versailles.

The entrance to the chateau is situated on the town square, which is lined with several bars and brasseries, making it a good place for lunch or a late afternoon snack. It’s a 20 minute drive from Jonvilliers.