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Chateau de Compiegne
Le Musée National de la voiture et du tourisme

Within the Chateau de Compiegne you will find a museum called Le Musée National de la Voiture et du Tourisme, or in English known as The National Museum of the Car and Tourism and is dedicated to road travel from the beginning of the coupling through to automobiles.

On the initiative of Paul Leon, who was the director of Fine Arts, the museum was created at the Compiegne Castle.  And it was through the efforts of Leo Auscher, who was the vice president of the Touring Club of France, that the National Museum of the car and Tourism was inaugurated in 1927 by Edouard Herriot, the Minister of Public Education and Fine Arts.

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Chateau de Compiegne Le Musée National de la voiture et du tourisme

The collection is displayed on an area of around 3200 square metres and the museum offers its visitors some very fine examples of sleds, bicycles and vehicles that has benefited from a large number of donations from individuals that decided to enrich it.  An important donation consisting mainly of vehicles from the 18th century was from the Musee de Cluny, which is a museum in Paris also known as the Musée National du Moyen Âge.

The National Museum of the Car and Tourism is actually located in the former courtyard of the castle kitchens of Chateau de Compiegne, which is a beautiful castle only a short trip from the City of Paris, yet actually in the Picardie region of France.

The Musée National de la Voiture et du Tourisme is dedicated to the history of road travel from the first coupling to the beginnings of the automobile and the period when horse traction and car traction were in competition with eventual supremacy of the automobile, is very well represented.

The museum shows the fascinating history of road transport, from the beginnings of harnessing to the early years of the automobile and there are 31 vehicles that represent its infancy in the areas of steam, electricity and then the early engine.

Within this section you will even get to see the prototype of the Jamais Contente, which was the first electric car designed by Camille Jenatzy in 1899 and exceeded 100 kilometres per hour.

Plus you will be able to get to see an amazing cycle collection that has an incredible assortment of two, three and four wheeled velocipedes, from the early Dandy Horses and Hobby Horses of the years 1817 to 1820 through to the modern bicycle of 1890 to 1920.

Through its various sections, the museum offers examples that are varied and includes models, paintings, photographs and other objects that enrich the collection further.  But unfortunately the policy of continual collection and development has slowed down quite dramatically over the years due to lack of space for storing and presenting the collections, yet it is a unique testimony to the history of road traction up until the First World War

The Chateau de Compiegne also houses another museum, which is called the Musee du Second Empire and these two museums plus the castle are definitely worth a visit when you are on holiday in France.

You can reach this French museum via car from Paris by taking the motorways A3, and then A1 and take exit 9 Chevrières or exit 10 Arsy.  However, from the direction of Lille you would need to use the motorway A1 and then take the exit 10 Arsy.

The National Museum of the Car and Tourism is open every day of the week except for a Tuesday. 

From April through to the end of September the museum opens from 9.15am to 6pm, yet the entry gates close one hour prior.

From the start of October through to the end of March it opens from 9.15am and then closes at 4.30pm but as before the last entry is one hour prior to closing time.

You will be pleased to know that this museum is one of those that is free to visit on the first Sunday of each month.

Address & Contact Details:

Le Musée National de la Voiture et du Tourisme
Château de Compiègne
Place du Général de Gaulle

Telephone: 3 44 38 47 00

National Museum of the Car and Tourism

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