The Château de Villers-Cotterêts becomes the Cité internationale de la langue française

On October 19, the Citté internationale de la langue française will open its doors in the château de Villers-Cotterêts, in the Aisne region, following a colossal restoration project.

19 September 2023

Cour des offices du château de Villers-Cotterêts restauré

A castle with a thousand and one lives

A jewel of the Renaissance, the château de Villers-Cotterêts has lived many lives.

In 1539, François I signed the famous decree making French the official language of law and administration. 

After becoming national property during the French Revolution, it was transformed by Napoleon into a beggar's home, a prison and a hospice. Converted into an old people's home in 1889, it underwent several degradations and gradually fell into disuse, until it was left completely abandoned in 2014.

After four years of work under the supervision of the Centre des monuments nationaux, the château de Villers-Cotterêts is about to be reborn!

The Cité internationale de la langue française will open its doors on October 19, 2023. The first cultural venue entirely dedicated to the French language, the Cité will share and bring to life its richness, diversity and vitality. An original tour, exhibitions, shows and many other surprises await you!

All about the Cité 

The restoration of the château de Villers-Cotterêts has also enabled us to showcase the remarkable Renaissance features in the south wing of the Logis Royal (the chapel, the King's staircase and the Queen's staircase), so that everyone can discover these jewels of sculpture and ornamentation. You'll soon be able to admire their abundant decoration: salamanders, crowns, fleurs-de-lis, crowned initials...

Book your tickets

In pictures

10 good reasons to visit the Cité internationale de la langue française

  1. Visit a former royal château, open to the public for the very first time in its history!
  2. Contemplate beautifully restored gems of French Renaissance architecture and sculpture.
  3. Play with the French language. Challenge your friends to a giant word puzzle, find the origins of regional words, get personalized reading advice...
  4. Hear the real or reconstructed voices of historical figures: Louis the German, Joan of Arc, François I, Alexandre Dumas...
  5. See the famous Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts with your own eyes, back at the château where François I signed it in 1539!
  6. Look up to admire the impressive glass roof which sublimates the courtyard of the jeu de paume.
  7. Take advantage of this new place to live and stroll. The outdoor areas, the first room of the tour and the bookshop will be open to visitors free of charge!
  8. Attend shows, concerts or debates in the Cité's auditorium: a 250-seat, fully modular auditorium.
  9. Go green in the Retz forest a unique natural heritage.
  10. Make a literary pilgrimage to this land of writers: Alexandre Dumas was born in Villers-Cotterêts, Jean Racine in La Ferté-Milon, Jean de La Fontaine in Château-Thierry...

The site in figures

  • 600 workers from 220 companies in 65 trades
  • 3 600 m2 of roofing renovated, representing 265,000 slates
  • 60 tonnes for the glass roof and structure
  • 600 m3 of cut stone used for the facades
  • 280 windows restored
  • 1250 m2 of old floors rehabilitated and 2,050 m2 of floors restored
  • 15 000 pavers laid in the Jeu de Paume courtyard
  • 10 000 terracotta tiles laid on the chapel floor