Château de Monte-Cristo: Home of Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers & The Count of Monte Cristo

Château de Monte-Cristo, the main building. Author: Moonik. CC BY-SA 3.0

It is the home and park of the celebrated French writer Alexandre Dumas, best known for his historical adventure novels, including The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

The Château de Monte-Cristo is a charming castle located in France, on Port-Marly hill, between Marly-le-Roi and Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

The castle is just as famous as the novel to which it owes its name.

The story of the castle begins with the success of both of Dumas’ novels.

At the height of his fame and seeking a peaceful place to continue his writing and escape the chaos of city life, Dumas acquired a vineyard 20km to the west of Paris.

In 1846, Dumas prepared plans for his future home with the help of notable architect Hippolyte Durand, who had renovated the Basilique Saint-Rémi in Reims.

Dumas’ plans for the estate included a Renaissance château, a miniature Gothic castle, and gardens featuring waterfalls, ornamental rocks, and grottos.

On the 25th of July 1847, he organized a party for his friends and admirers and moved into his tiny earthly paradise, as Dumas referred to the estate.

Monte-Cristo is a reflection of Dumas’ imagination. The castle has sculpted facades on every side and is decorated with cherubs, flowers, and musical instruments, symbolizing the arts.

The windows on the ground floor are decorated with medallions of the greatest authors of all time, while on the pediment above the entrance, the family coat of arms is carved with Dumas’ personal motto: “I love those who love me.”

Château de Monte-Cristo, the main building. Author: Moonik. CC BY-SA 3.0

The first floor features what is undoubtedly the most beautiful room in the castle: the Moorish Salon. It has authentic Eastern decor, with blue and red stained-glass windows, and white, green, and blue tiles.

The walls are adorned with arabesques and fine stucco sculptures crafted by Tunisian artisans. The first floor also features the bedroom, library, and dressing room.

Château d’If

Alexandre Dumas’ study is separated from the castle and it is the place where he would retreat to write. The Château d’If, as Dumas named it, is a delightful tiny neo-gothic castle, whose facades are carved with titles of his work.

A sculpture of a dog in a niche decorates the stairs leading up to the Château d’If.

The decorated stairs of the Château d’If. Author: Moonik. CC BY-SA 3.0

The park includes a garden in English style planted with varieties of roses and trees, such as fir, larch, oak, birch, hornbeam, and lime trees.

Dumas’ home was also full of pets, among which fourteen dogs and cats.

The estate also included a ménagerie with both familiar and rare animal species that Dumas brought with him from his travels, including monkeys, parrots, and a vulture.

The workplace of Alexandre Dumas in the Château d’If. Author: Moonik. CC BY-SA 3.0

The life of Dumas at Monte-Cristo was anything but boring. He loved to entertain and organized large, extravagant parties.

However, Dumas was heavily in debt and eventually had to sell his personal paradise. On the 22nd of March 1849, he sold the property for the modest sum of 31,000 gold francs, although it had cost him hundreds of thousands to build.

As leaving his beloved home was very difficult for Dumas, the buyer let him stay at Monte Cristo until he departed for Belgium in 1851.

The grotto in the garden

In the second half of the 19th century, the property passed through several owners before falling into disrepair. In 1969, a real estate project planned to build 400 new homes on the site.

However, the Society of the Friends of Alexandre Dumas and the local authorities came together, bought the property and saved Monte-Cristo from demolition.

Restoration followed, and even the King of Morocco, Hassan II, helped by financing the restoration of the famous Moorish Salon.

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Since 1994, the Château de Monte-Cristo has been a public history museum commemorating Dumas and a monument representing the Romantic architecture of the nineteenth century.