Sub-prefecture of Yvelines (78)

Population: 26,800

Specialties: Rambolitan (pastry made from macaroon paste and praline mousse), beers from La Reine breweries, products from the national sheep-farm (terrines, cheese, Merino sheep wool), pheasant terrine (pheasant-based) of the plain of Rambouillet.

Personalities: Sébastien Faure (anarchist writer), Gérard Larcher (President of the Senate), Georges Wilson, Guy Kerner, Guillaume Canet, Bérénice Béjo (actors), Cécile de Ménibus (television)

Sports: 9,200 members in 62 sports associations. Main clubs: Rambouillet Sports (athletics, basketball, rhythmic gymnastics, rugby), Rambouillet Etoile Gymnique, Rambouillet Table Tennis. Events: half-marathon (March), "Ramboli-Ten" (March, races for children and adults, 10 km), 6 hours of Rambouillet (April, American-style fishing), Sud-Yvelines (May, gran fondo), Paris-Brest-Paris (August, gran fondo), Ẻquirando (August, European gathering of equestrian tourism), Corrida de Rambouillet (December, running)

Economy: cluster of 8,000 enterprises and 25,000 jobs, universities.

Festivals: Fete du Muguet (May, parade of floats), Summer Festival (June, concerts and street theatre), Fete de Saint Lubin (September every two years, competition of draft horses, costume party), Biennale of Animal Sculptures (October)

Labels: City of Art and History, Imperial City, Child Friendly City, Donor City, Ville Accueil Velo, 3 flowers

Websites / Social networks: /  /

National Sheepfold: a historic and ecological farm

In 1840 the Ile-de-France sheep breed was created by crossing merinos and dishleys. The experimentation of the breeding of new animals also began under Louis XVI with Swiss cows, North African sheep, angora goats, mouflons and continued under Napoleon I who brought buffaloes from Italy for traction, Belgian, Norman and Arab horses. Agronomic experimentation began at the same time, with 275 hectares of crops and meadows in what was once the hunting domain. The national rural establishment became imperial in 1840 with the construction of the first imperial sheepfolds, then royal from 1815 to 1848, and again imperial from 1853 to 1870 under the second Empire, with the construction of the second imperial sheepfolds.

In the heart of the Domain of Rambouillet, the National Sheepfold is a large agricultural estate with two hundred years of history, listed as a historical monument. It is also a vast exploitation of 230 hectares. Today, the farm keeps no less than 600 sheep including 200 ewes and 50 merino rams , 80 cows, 10 draft horses, 15 goats, 4 donkeys, 4000 chickens 20 rabbits and 1 pig.

The National Sheepfold has a transformation and marketing department. It produces around 350,000 litres of milk a year. A "gourmet shop" has been created where you can find products made on site or from other agricultural schools (charcuterie, prepared meals, honey, etc. ...) the National Sheepfold receives about 110 000 visitors each year.

Showcase of sustainable agriculture in perfect harmony with the agricultural policies of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ile-de-France Region and Europe, exploitation has been reconsidered for ten years to redirect its productions and educate the public and professionals on the issues of sustainable development and food. The farm today ensures the food autonomy of herds, the drastic reduction of plant protection products and chemical fertilizers ... Finally innovative in terms of ecological maintenance and green spaces, the farm uses animal traction to cleaning and mowing. The National Sheepfold is also a training centre adapted to various audiences (teachers, elected representatives, development agents, local officials) in the fields related to the major problems of today's agriculture and the local economy.

© Presse Sports / B.Bade

One year after Houilles, the Tour de France will be back in the Yvelines department, which has hosted the start of Paris-Nice since 2010. As for Rambouillet, it already welcomed the Tour in 1966 and 2012. In 1966, Lucien Aimar was given the go-ahead to lead the Tour after his team leader Jacques Anquetil had given up. AImar still needed to hold Raymond Poulidor and Jan Janssen at bay in the final time trail between Ramvbouillet and Paris. Eventually, Aimar retained a slim one-minute lead over Janssen. The time trial went to Rudi Altig while the morning bunch sprint was won by Belgium’s Ward Sels. In 2012, Mark Cavendished had sealed the overall triumph of Team Sky by winning the Champs Elysees sprint while Bradely Wiggins was becoming the first Briton to win the Tour, one month before the London Olympics. Rambouillet is also the birthplace of Joel Gallopib, the father of Tony,n who took part in four Tours between 1978 and 1981.

© William Morice

The castle
At first a simple mansion, the 14th century castle, surrounded by flooded ditches, was gradually transformed into a sumptuous pleasure residence. Styles and periods follow one another during a visit from the marble room, built in 1556 under James I of Angennes, to the Council of Ministers room, the Napoleon bedroom or the boudoir of Marie-Antoinette and its rococo woodwork. The Gobelins or Aubusson tapestries and Sèvres biscuits stand alongside table sets manufactured by Christofle and Baccarat, all sealed with  the blazon of the Republic. The castle is open to the public and managed by the National Monuments Center.

The Palace of the King of Rome
Originally destined to host the suite of Napoleon during his visits to Rambouillet, the former government hotel built in 1787 on the orders of Louis XVI was renovated by the Emperor in 1812. It was a residence for his son born on March 20, 1811. If the choice was made of a relatively sober neoclassical order, the interior decoration is worthy of a prince with its marbles, mirrors, sculptures and Doric columns. Redeemed by the city in 1989, the right wing of the palace of the King of Rome became dedicated to exhibitions. The garden has been redesigned and the interior of the palace restored in 1997. The facades and the roof are listed in the inventory of historical heritage.

City Hall
Louis XVI bought several houses in Rambouillet, had them demolished, and enlarged the market square. He built a new town house in 1787 under the direction of architect Thévenin. Leased to the municipality for a derisory sum by Louis XVI, Napoleon, by virtue of the decree of March 24, 1809 gave it to the city. It is nown the town hall. Despite numerous interior modifications, the staircase of honour and the beautiful council room, with the portraits of Rambouillet most celebrated personalities, remained intact. The town hall is listed as a historical monument.

The Queen's Dairy
Marie Antoinette went to the castle of Rambouillet for the first time in 1783. Louis XVI, eager to keep her there, asked architect Thévenin to build, in the spirit of the hamlet of the small Trianon in Versailles, a dairy to make and taste cheese. In a small architectural ensemble carefully designed to remain cool, with its marble coating and fountain gushing on both sides of a nymph sitting on an artificial rock, the Queen's dairy and its coffered ceilings is a lovely place. In the shape of a lily, the key to the little building is said to have been minted by the king himself. An arboretum with centuries-old trees extends behind the dairy.

The shell cottage
The English garden, laid out in the heart of the park by the Duke of Penthièvre for his daughter-in-law, the princess of Lamballe, was embellished with a river and an artificial cave surmounted by a Chinese kiosk which was destroyed by lightning in 1792, at the same time, says the legend, that two lovers who had found refuge there. The garden was home to two small manufactures; the hermitage and the shell cottage. Only the latter can be visited. Built by architect Goupy in a rustic style typical of the pastoral taste of the time, its interior decor is composed of panes of shells, marble and mother-of-pearl. Baskets placed in corner niches let fruit and flowers flow in the purest Louis XVI style. This surprise cottage had a small wardrobe closet, with woodwork painted with delicate patterns, which is accessed through a back door.

The National Sheepfold
In 1783, Louis XVI bought the estate of Rambouillet to his cousin the Duke of Penthièvre to turn it into a hunting ground. The trend of the time was agromania and the king decided to create an experimental farm. The "great farm" was built in 1785, close to the castle. This dual hunting and breeding function remained the foundation of this national domain. In 1786, Louis XVI bought from his cousin King Charles III of Spain a herd of merino sheep, a breed renowned for the quality of its wool. These Spanish sheep gave birth to the "Merinos of Rambouillet" and the breed continued to thrive nationally and internationally until the beginning of the WWI.
Today, the farm still has 600 sheep including 200 ewes and 50 merino rams, 80 cows, 10 draft horses, 15 goats, 4 donkeys, 4,000 chickens, 20 rabbits and one pig. The National Sheepfold has a transformation and marketing department. It produces around 350,000 liters of milk a year. A "gourmet shop" was created to sell its products.

© cc-by-2.0
© Lionel Allorge / CC BY-SA 3.0
© Lionel Allorge / CC BY-SA 3.0
© Ville de Rambouillet
© CC BY-SA 3.0 / Chatsam
© CC BY-SA 3.0
© Mairie de Rambouillet
© Mairie de Rambouillet
© Mairie de Rambouillet
© Mairie de Rambouillet
© Mairie de Rambouillet
© Mairie de Rambouillet
© Mairie de Rambouillet
© Mairie de Rambouillet
© Mairie de Rambouillet
Château de Rambouillet © Ville de Rambouillet

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