Our History

Domaine du Montcel: a listed château-hotel in the Paris region

Before it became this magnificent château-hotel in the heart of the Yvelines, the Domaine du Montcel and its 14 hectares of wooded grounds have spanned the centuries. 

Successive lives and different functions through the ages. From private residence to college, from German Air Force headquarters to contemporary art center, the Domaine du Montcel has undergone many changes of ownership and function. 

Each era has left its mark or erected its witnesses through an authentic cultural heritage.

Today, it is from this prestigious heritage that the Domaine du Montcel draws its pronounced taste for excellence and the French art of living.

Castle map - chateau Hotel Yvelines

From the 9th to the 17th century:
The origins

A dependency of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Established as a seigneury, the estate was known alternately as "du Moucet" and "La Croix" before the name "Montcel" became established. The abbey monks ceded the estate to François d'Escoubleau de Sourdis, squire to the King. His son Charles d'Escoubleau became the first lord of Le Montcel.  The monks of the abbey ceded the estate to François d'Escoubleau de Sourdis, squire to the King. His son Charles d'Escoubleau became the first Lord of Le Montcel.

View of the Chateau du Montcel in the background - chateau hotel Yvelines

18th century:
Domaine du Montcel is born

1760 Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf founded the Manufacture Royale des Toiles de Jouy in Jouy en Josas. Here, he developed printing techniques for canvases featuring mythological, pastoral, and gallant scenes and animals from La Fontaine's Fables. This location was not chosen by chance, as it has the advantage of being on the banks of the Bièvre, whose water quality is renowned, and in a rural valley where land is available close to Versailles and Paris.
In 1795, he bought the Domaine du Montcel a few hundred meters away.
Although the estate had several owners before the Oberkampf family, this illustrious family and their Mallet descendants left an indelible mark on the history of the estate for almost 130 years, from 1795 to 1923.

From 1795 to 1816:
Le Montcel under the Oberkampf

Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf quickly achieved notoriety at the Court of King Louis XVI and internationally thanks to the fame of his paintings. He was even awarded the Légion d'honneur by Napoleon in 1806.
In 1795, he moved his family to the Domaine du Montcel, which became first and foremost Madame Oberkampf's residence. It is to her, therefore, that we owe the major milestone in its history. Aware that a residence marks the refinement of its owner and promotes the image of his social status, it was to her that we owe the estate's development, embellishment, and construction during this period.

Toiles de Jouy Christophe Philippe Oberkampf - chateau Hotel Yvelines

Castle embellishments

Madame Oberkampf set about transforming the château in the neoclassical style, characterized by sober, elegant features. For example, by building a new northern wing and redesigning the façade with a new staircase, the château acquired the regularity, symmetry, and scale it had lacked. Inside, the Corinthian columns alternating with mirrors create the illusion of an antique portico.

Pleasure house - chateau Hotel Yvelines

Park beautification

Madame Oberkampf recovered a park with traditional French-style regular gardens, such as those found on the grounds of the Château de Versailles. However, the Petit Trianon at Versailles began to evolve with the implementation of Marie-Antoinette's English garden, created in 1775 by Richard Mique.

This craze for English-style gardens, also known as "picturesque gardens" or "landscape gardens," saw the triumph of irregularity over symmetry and geometry.
Madame Oberkampf, therefore, chose to transform the park, where nature is both constrained and organized, into something decidedly more fashionable and entrusted the project to one of the most famous Scottish landscape architects of his time, Thomas Blaikie, between 1806 and 1808.

The main elements of its design are the English river, a pond, and its small island, adjoined by two rustic bridges, the grotto, winding paths, and meadows of fruit trees.
The garden has been designed as a sensory and sentimental journey, with unexpected paths leading the way, creating a sense of surprise but also conducive to reverie, wonder, contemplation and melancholy, like a modern Arcadia.

view of the English river - chateau Hotel Yvelines

From 1816 to 1923:
Le Montcel under the Mallet family

When Madame Oberkampf died on December 9, 1816, her daughter Emilie, wife of banker Louis-Jules Mallet (brother of James Mallet, First Baron Mallet de Chalmassy), then their son Henri and grandson Frédéric inherited the estate.

Between 1860 and 1870, several contemporary buildings were completed: the house known as "le Chalet" to the north of the Château and the "Maison du gardien" at the entrance to the estate.
Finally, it is assumed that it was at this time that the English river, at the edge of the outbuildings, was filled in, and the entrance to the estate was moved to the south-west corner of the plot, where rue du Montcel meets rue de la Manufacture des Toiles de Jouy.

View of the façade - chateau Hotel Yvelines

From 1923 to 1980:
The Montcel School

The Swiss Jeanrenaud brothers bought the property and founded a private school of excellence for boys from good families. They took their inspiration from the English schools of the same period, which offered a prestigious and rigorous education to the children of the country's wealthiest families: classes in the morning and sports and cultural activities in the afternoon.

Why the Montcel Estate? First, the vast park provides a spacious natural setting for developing an educational program where outdoor activities are crucial. Moreover, the site's vastness makes it a quiet, concentrated place to set up a boarding school close to Paris.

The qualities of this environment have not gone unnoticed by the HEC Paris business school, which has settled less than 2 km from the Domaine du Montcel.

Ecole du Montcel - chateau Hotel Yvelines

The Montcel School has welcomed some exceptional personalities among its pupils. Indeed, who would have guessed that among the ranks of the pupils of this bourgeois school in Jouy-en-Josas were future successful artists:
- the director, Jean-Michel Ribes
- the painter, Gérard Garouste,
- the author, Patrick Modiano (a reference to the Montcel School in his novel Rue des boutiques obscures - Prix Goncourt 1978) Rue des boutiques obscures - Prix Goncourt 1978)
- and one of France's most popular singers Michel Sardou (a reference to the Montcel School in his saucy 1972 song The general supervisor).

Proof that this exceptional location encourages inspiration and creativity.

Children's games at Montcel - chateau Hotel Yvelines

The year 1940
The Montcel School closes as the Kommandatura, a German military command center, takes over. At the end of the German occupation, the Luftwaffe planned to settle at Le Montcel, and part of the Wehrmacht air component headquarters set up its quarters on the estate. Between 1943 and 1944, a bunker was built in the northwestern part of the park to house an air detection and interception center.

August 24, 1944
The Germans leave the Domaine du Montcel and set fire to the Château. The devastating fire wiped out all traces of the interior decor created in the 19th century. The roofs were utterly disfigured. The same year in October, work began rebuilding the Château, intending to reopen the school as soon as possible. Only the west facade, still standing after the fire, was restored to its original state. It wasn't until the 1950s that the reconstruction of the Oberkampf mansion was finished, but it was far from an identical restoration.

Description of the school - chateau Hotel Yvelines

Thanks to the insistence of Pierre Jeanrenaud, who was alarmed by a freeway project, the Montcel site was classified as a site on April 10, 1967. This classification enabled the preservation of one of the English-style parks laid out in France by Thomas Blaikie, the most famous of the landscape gardeners of the late 18th and 19th centuries, whose main design features can still be seen today (the English river, the grotto, the west and east meadows on either side of the château).

Competition from local colleges gradually led to the decline of the École du Montcel. The school closes its doors for good at the end of June.

La cour de Montcel - chateau Hotel Yvelines

From 1980 to 1984:
Contemporary art center and sports club

After buying the estate, patron, property developer, and art lover, Jean Hamon converted it into a contemporary art center and sports leisure club.
He set up artists' studios, and it was during this period that part of the estate became known as the "Village des Arts ." Above all, one of the park's two most critical monumental works was installed during this period.

hotel front view - chateau Hotel Yvelines

1982 :
Long Term Parking d'Arman

In 1982, artist, sculptor, and visual artist Arman created Long Term Parkinga monumental work of art in the heart of the Domaine du Montcel. Costing over a million French francs to build, it consists of a stack of fifty-nine actual carcasses cast in concrete, forming a tower over 19 meters high. Interested in objects representative of our modern consumer society, Arman chose the car to symbolize just that. He also intends to show that even if the object is sacralized, this will not prevent its imminent destruction. In this way, the quantitative accumulation of the same object serves to erase its singularity and conjure up an image of profusion and abundance while at the same time underlining the perishable nature of the products of the consumer society of plenty.

At the time of its creation, the tower was controversial, as an immense concrete sculpture in this rural, neo-classical setting was quite surprising. Today, the work is unanimously recognized as one of modern art's most important of the century.

In the face of works of art whose very essence is to be immortal, Arman conceived this work as evolving from the outset and thus achieved the feat of creating a structure that ages with mankind. So, after more than three decades, the already well-developed structure could disappear altogether. one day?

work of art representing a car park - luxury hotel versailles

1983 :
Le Déjeuner sous l'herbe by Daniel Spoerri

On April 23, 1983, in the middle of the lawn of the Domaine du Montcel, a performance took place by the artist Daniel Spoerri, a renowned visual artist and member of the “Nouveau Réalisme movement”. The performance is entitled Lunch on the Grass - an allusion to Manet's famous 1863 painting Lunch on the Grass. 120 guests and personalities from the art world, including Arman, César, and Pierre Soulages, are invited to a festive and frugal banquet. At the end of the meal, the tables, crockery, cutlery, bottles, and leftovers are buried in a 60-meter-long trench dug in advance.

In 2010, 33 years after the famous meal, archaeological excavations were carried out by INRAP, the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research. Unfortunately, Daniel Spoerri could not attend this excavation, which he had nevertheless anticipated and imagined at the moment of his 1983 performance.
The first excavations of their kind in contemporary art history reveal the cutlery and other objects left behind by the guests. This first scientific excavation applied to contemporary art questions the limits of soil archive studies and provides essential information on the memory conveyed by short-term material traces.

Photographs taken during the dinner in 1983 and a film shot during the 2010 excavations remain of this performance today. Bronze casts have also been created from the remains. As a permanent record of the work in situ, 6m of the 60m trench is still buried in the grounds of the Domaine, while another adorns the artist's park in Tuscany.


lunch under the grass - chateau Hotel Yvelines

1984 to 1993:
The Cartier Foundation

On October 20, 1984, Cartier inaugurated its Foundation for Contemporary Art in the Domaine du Montcel in the presence of César and Jack Lang. Inspired by American models. The Foundation was a first in France. The first law on cultural patronage, known as the Léotard law, had not yet been passed. It had to wait until 1987, and it's clear that the Fondation Cartier was a driving force behind this change in the tax treatment of patronage. The Fondation Cartier was, therefore, no stranger to the proliferation and creation of other foundations in the luxury sector during the same period.
After its opening, the Fondation Cartier enjoyed media fame: ten years from 1984 to 1993, in which every new exhibition was an event.
Directed by Marie-Claude Beaud during this golden age, the Foundation organized numerous exhibitions. It installed works of art in the park, including, to name but a few: La Serre by Jean-Pierre Raynaud (1985), Six yews by Raymond Hains (1986) and the famous Thumb and the powerful Venus of Villetaneuse by César.

The Foundation has developed around several values that underpin its actions, and it continues to assert its identity today: innovation and artistic freedom, commitment to contemporary art, support for creation, and collaboration with emerging, avant-garde artists.
The Fondation Cartier was an art center, not just an exhibition space, but a place where artists could live and work. The artists' studios and residences were located in the Village des Arts; the bunker served as the main exhibition space, and the Château housed a large restaurant. For Marie Claude Beaud, living on-site completely changed the dynamic of the place, "it was a whole informal daily life that was organized at the Foundation ." HEC students used to come and drink coffee in the Château's bar, and pupils from nearby secondary schools would visit the Foundation with their classes.

Aerial views - chateau Hotel Yvelines

1984 to 1989:
César's tribute to Eiffel

The Fondation Cartier's inaugural exhibition is dedicated to the contemporary artist César, who was made Commandeur des Arts et Lettres the same year.
It was against this backdrop that the artist undertook the creation of his Tribute to Eiffel, a giant 18-meter-high slab, with the cooperation of his assistants Jean-François Duffau and Christian Debout "Les Fers de César," a work destined for the grounds of the Fondation Cartier Château.
It is made from beams taken from the Eiffel Tower lightening operation. More precisely, the materials used were partly taken from fragments of an Eiffel Tower staircase dismantled during the work. These fragments, purchased in 1983, are assembled in a vast tangle.
In 1989, the monumental sculpture was completed and inaugurated with great fanfare, performances, and fireworks in the Foundation's garden. A 6-meter-high plaque using the same elements as the Eiffel Tower was installed at Yoshii Foundation Park in Japan the same year. César's work at Jouy en Josas thus has a little sister on the other side of the world, in Japan. 
Of the monumental sculptures installed in the park since the early 1980s, only Arman's Long-Term Parking and César's Tribute to Eiffel remain. Long Term Parking and theTribute to Eiffel of Caesar.

eiffel tribute - chateau Hotel Yvelines

2013 :
Acquisition by the Acapace group

ACAPACE, in partnership with Sofival, acquires the exceptional Domaine du Montcel site to create an upscale hotel and seminar facility in this inspiring haven of greenery. The Management of this resort-hotel-conference center has been entrusted to the American hotel group WYNDHAM (4th largest hotel operator worldwide) under its DOLCE brand.

This complex operation combined extensive renovation of the Château, Chalet, and village sections - to recapture the Oberkampf-Mallet spirit of the early 19th century - with new construction on a magnificent, pervasive "classified" site. Indeed, the estate still conceals some fascinating pieces of architecture, such as the dovecote, a rare example of neoclassical rustic construction from the early 19th century, or the Chalet in the style of a Second Empire bourgeois residence.

The project philosophy respects the landscape composition conceived by architect Thomas Blaikie. There's only one way to achieve this: to go back to the sources, archives, and documents of the period that are still available. Among the most valuable sources are King Louis XVI's hunting maps, which extend as far as Jouy-en-Josas.

So, the project to redevelop the site as an accommodation, seminar, and fitness center makes sense, as the Domaine immediately evokes a sense of calm and rest for visitors - making it a perfect place to concentrate and learn.
It's not usually the case that guests use hotel outdoor spaces. At the Dolce by Wyndham Versailles, everything is done to ensure that future guests can enjoy the Domaine du Montcel's outdoor spaces: the idea is to recreate and redesign the old paths through the park and woods to host magnificent receptions.

Aerial view 2012 - chateau Hotel Yvelines

Park & gardens

Parc du Montcel Ile 1930 e1688032253796
As the protective shell of the Dolce by Wyndham Versailles Hotel, the park, and gardens are the perfect setting for a wide range of walks and discoveries.

Works of art

Long term parking d'Arman 1982 1
Art is everywhere at Domaine du Montcel, and two monumental works of art adorn the park's gardens.