Rambouillet in 2011 is a wealthy and vibrant town. The opening of a new, fast road link with Paris and a dynamic, forward thinking Mayor, Senator Gerard Larcher, have helped to build the town's economy through encouraging industry to the new industrial sites as well as promoting the town's ancient past.

Senator Larcher was the town's veterinary surgeon and he continued to practice after he became town mayor and later Senator (until recently, he held the post of President of the Senate). He still finds time to maintain his duties as mayor of Rambouillet, aided by a team of Councillors and town hall staff and is a keen supporter of the twinning movement and always tries to attend twinning events.

The Chateau, Park and Forest

From 1896 until recently this was the summer residence of the President of France and many foreign dignitaries, including our own queen and presidents of USA have stayed there.

It is possible to visit the castle and a guide gives a wealth of detail, in French of course, but there are English guide books to help in your understanding.

Of the original 16th century fortress only a tower remains in which Francis I died in 1547 the rest has been remodelled over the years.

It is set in attractive parkland with formal parks and gardens largely created by Jean-Baptiste Fleurian d'Armenoville with later improvements by one of its residents, the Duc de Pentthievre, mainly the English style garden with its beautiful sea shell pavilion.

Louis XVI later built the Queen's Dairy in a vain attempt to interest his queen, Marie Antoinette, in visiting the castle.

Another place of interest in the park is the Bergerie Nationale de Rambouillet, or Sheep Farm, the home of the famous Rambouillet Merino sheep and an important agricultural training college.

Other places to visit include the palace of Le Roi de Rome, The Museum of the Goose Game, the Museum Rambolitrain (model trains), and a visit to the Hippodrome for the trotting races is an entertaining way to while away an afternoon.

Festivals and Fêtes held in Rambouillet.

The French people love their fêtes and festivals and Rambouillet is no different; every May one weekend is given over to the Fête du Muguet, or festival of the Lily of the Valley. The shop windows are decorated either with the flowers or representations of the theme for the year, this year “Cinema” and Saturday night sees an evening of music in the park, usually dramatic or romantic, arrival of La Reine du Muguet ( Queen) and her Dauphines (princesses) and the official crowning ceremony by the mayor before he presents her to the people. There is stiff competition for these roles and the girls are not just pretty faces, they must demonstrate social awareness and ability to represent their town with charm and dignity. The evening culminates in a grand firework display by the lake, to music and is free to all who wish to attend.

Sunday morning brings mass at St Lubin's Church preceded by the Queen and town dignitaries walking in procession from the town centre to the church and being received by the priest in charge. The church is always full with standing room only. This is followed by a walk down the street to the Gardens of the Palais Du Roi de Rome and free drinks and nibbles for all who choose to attend.

The afternoon is given over to the parade of the floats, through town to the park, where they are judged by the attendant crowd, voting slips being handed out , and the prizewinners announced before the close of proceedings.

These floats often have mechanical parts and are decorated with lily of the valley leaves and flowers collected from the forest. All in all a joyous and memorable weekend which never seems to pall.

Fête St Lubin

In September, every other year since 1988, the festival of St. Lubin has been held in the town. It is an agricultural fair and an occasion to relive periods of history in Rambouillet. A different epoch is chosen each time and in 2006 when the two towns celebrated their 5Oth anniversary of twinning the chosen era was 1903, when, as a prelude to the signing of the 'Entente Cordiale', King Edward VII visited Paris.

David Evans from Great Yarmouth played the part of King Edward and read a speech written for the occasion by the French. 

The town was decorated, a parade of some 200 people, in Edwardian costume, and led by 'King Edward' walked from the town's railway station through the main street to the Town Hall where lunch was served 'al fresco' and after lunch the prizes for the animals were presented.

It is interesting to note that our town fair, opened in 2006 by the mayor of Great Yarmouth and the Mayor of Rambouillet, also had its roots in an agricultural fair.

Music Festival

This is held every year in May and on the Saturday evening there are bands of every kind playing in the streets, each having its allotted time slot and its own playing space. Quite an evening, and so good humoured.

Rambouillet has much to offer the visitor whether they are seeking historic buildings or an outdoor experience in the forest, there is something for everyone; singles, couples or families, all will find a welcome and a holiday to remember.

There is the wonderful Rambolitrain where one can view a wonderful collection of model trains and the biggest track layout I have ever seen, the park to walk in and enjoy, or the forest where one can walk ride or drive, or visit Espace Rambouillet, an animal and raptor park.

Very different to the sea side attractions of Great Yarmouth and the nearby Norfolk Broads, but it is those differences which attract and hold our attention.

So, as they say in France

”Vive la difference”, “Vive Rambouillet”  “Vive Great Yarmouth” “Vive le Jumelage”

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