In 1777, the Count d'Artois (himself later the last "King of France" as Charles X), a younger brother to King Louis XVI, accepted Queen Marie-Antoinette's challenge to build a small château, indeed a maison de plaisance from the decaying Domaine de Bagatelle located in the Bois de Boulogne, in the outskirts of Paris, within but hundred days. Queen Marie Antoinette wanted to indulge a jolly moment there before the Royal Court had to move to the regal Domaine of Fontainebleau.
Unbelievably the resourceful Count d'Artois won the bet, for the residence was completed in merely sixty-four days. Marie Antoinette was 100 000 pounds poorer as a consequence.
Recorded as strikingly elegant by contemporaries, cosy for its visitors and joyful in atmosphere, the entrance to the château's façade bears the inscription in Latin Parva sed apta or in English "Small but suitable". And thus can one describe the "folie d'Artois", renowned for its romantic scenery, its exquisite rose garden as well as the soothing pink pastel colours of the château's walls.
Lush gardens were subsequently expanded, and trees planted since the end of the XVIII century, including oaks, pines, sequoia and cedars. Numerous statues, a Chinese pagoda, small bridges and grottoes adorn the panorama. Roses, irises, perennials,
clematises, peonies are in abundance throughout the area that is now one of Paris' four botanical gardens. Intrinsically linked to France's royal and imperial heritage, the Maison Guerlain has also drawn inspiration from this magnificent "folie d'Artois" for the production of verily French fragrances. In fact, in 1983 the Parc de Bagatelle, inspired Jean-Paul Guerlain's scent "Le Jardin de Bagatelle", when he envisioned what he uttered to be "an irresistible melody for a fulfilled and spontaneous woman in love".