Only 1 hour from Paris, in the Yvelines department, the Maison Jean Monnet is a fascinating museum that allows you to better understand the history of Jean Monnet and that of Europe, but also to get some fresh air for a weekend.

An exotic visit at the gates of Paris

Between the valleys and forests of the Yvelines, small roads lead to Bazoches-sur-Guyonne then to the hamlet of Houjarray. This is where the Maison-Musée Jean Monnet is located, originally a simple thatched cottage, where he decided to settle in 1945 and where he died in 1979. If Jean Monnet fell in love with this house in the countryside in this hamlet it is because he was a true nature lover. He always tried to live far from the city. And when that wasn't possible, he always managed to live near a park in town. He loved to walk in nature and especially around his property.

Hiking trails are accessible from the Maison Jean Monnet, including the GR 11, located on the crossing of Saint-Rémy-l'Honoré. Easy to access and for all levels, it extends from the Maison-Musée to Coignières. Nothing could be easier to follow in the footsteps of Jean Monnet on these paths that he probably walked on during his lifetime.

Who was Jean Monnet?

Born in 1888 in Cognac in the Charente region of France into a family of wine producers, Jean Monnet was very early in life to meet the foreign clients of the family business, which gave him an open mind from an early age. From the age of 16, he decided to work for his family and travelled to London, Canada, the United States, Russia and Egypt, where he marketed the cognac of the cooperative "J.G. Monnet & Co".

Discharged from military service in 1908, he was not mobilized in 1914, but decided to participate in the war effort. He was then sent to London to create a Franco-British pool to manage the flow of supplies. The success of this operation led, at the end of the war, to his appointment as deputy secretary general of the League of Nations.

After playing a major role with the Allies in London and then in Washington, he was put in charge of France's economic recovery plan by General de Gaulle at the end of the Second World War. The main founder of the first steps towards European integration, he continued his commitment until the end of his life thanks to the Action Committee for the United States of Europe, created in 1955 with his own money.

In 1975, he chose to retire to his house in the hamlet of Houjarray, where he wrote his memoirs, which retrace his action for European unity. He died in 1979 in the same house and was buried in the nearby cemetery of Bazoches-sur-Guyonne. In 1988, his ashes were transferred to the Pantheon.

The house, cradle of Europe

Jean Monnet, political advisor and Father of Europe, lived in this house from 1945 until his death in 1979. He moved here after the Liberation, when he returned from Washington to take up his new post as Commissioner for Planning in Paris. All the great decision-makers of the world came regularly to meet Jean Monnet "at Houjarray". He welcomed them in all simplicity and with great conviviality, surrounded by Silvia, his wife, and his two daughters, Anna and Marianne. It was during one of these meetings, in 1950, that Jean Monnet presented Robert Schuman, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, with his idea of a united Europe to preserve peace on the old continent. The Schuman Declaration, pronounced on 9th May 1950, which marked the beginning of European construction, was therefore initially drafted in Bazoches.

Bought by the European Parliament in 1982, the site now pays tribute to the memory of Jean Monnet. In addition to the museum, throughout the year, training courses, conferences and debates, workshops and events for all publics are organised there.

The House-Museum

The museum offers visitors a unique experience of immersion in the historical rooms of the house, namely the living room, the dining room and the bedroom. Visitors discover the house and its objects (photographs, paintings and archival documents...) at their own pace with the help of an audio guide and short explanatory texts as well as a documentary. The first floor, where his daughters' and guests' bedrooms were located, hosts an interactive exhibition. The visit ends in a room for reflection and research where visitors are invited to ask themselves questions about European issues. Finally, the museum site is also equipped with a conference room. Inaugurated in 2008 by the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, in the presence of Jean Monnet's family, the Hans-Gert Pöttering Room is used for training courses and working sessions of the European institutions, as well as for cultural events and meetings of personalities.

The museum park

A path through the park, punctuated by several stations with explanatory panels, allows visitors to step back in time and immerse themselves in the life of Jean Monnet, from his apprenticeship as a cognac merchant around the world to his marriage to Silvia de Bondini and the birth of Europe in the 1950s. The "European citizen's garden" which borders the amphitheatre, in the centre of the park of the Maison Jean Monnet, allows visitors to discover the plant emblem of each European country, while a 7-stage circuit indicates the different trees in the park planted by European political figures.

Finally, in general, the Regional Natural Park (PNR) of the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse offers an exceptional natural setting for walking, cycling or horse riding, between plains and forests. All the itineraries are available directly on the website of the Regional Natural Park.

The "Secret Team of Europe" treasure hunt

To learn the history of Europe while having fun, there is nothing like a treasure hunt! Developed by the company Quaestyo for the Maison Jean Monnet, this game allows visitors to experience the adventure of the creation of Europe thanks to clues cleverly scattered around the park and the museum. A 75-minute quest to be shared in teams from a smartphone.

Here is the pitch of this game that will particularly appeal to young people: "In 1950, when international tensions were at their height, Jean Monnet drew up an agreement in the greatest secrecy that would seal the project of the first European Community, the Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Discover the incredible story of this adventure! »

The "Maison des Illustres" label

The Ministry of Culture has awarded the Maison Jean Monnet the "Maison des Illustres" label. Created in 2011, this label is now awarded to 232 sites throughout France whose mission is to transmit the memory of men and women who have influenced history from a political, religious, scientific or cultural point of view.

A dozen sites have received this distinction in the Yvelines department. It is therefore possible, in one day or several times, to make the route between these places of memory

Worthy neighbours

Just opposite is a black gate extended by a white wall and at the end of the road the Maison Louis Carré. This Parisian art collector and gallery owner, friend of the Monnet couple, had his house built here by the architect Aalvar. Their common and universal vision of art gave birth to this global project since the architect imagined not only the house, but also all its furniture, lighting, pool and pool house. A little further down towards the Guyonne, a group of thatched cottages houses the Brigitte Bardot Foundation. Today, the site is entirely dedicated to animals.

Useful information

When can you visit? The Maison Jean Monnet can be visited in all seasons, but it is from spring to autumn that you will particularly appreciate the beauty of the surrounding countryside and the PNR

How to get there. By car, about 45 minutes and 40 km southwest of Paris. By public transport, the nearest station is 6 km away. From Montparnasse station: train line N towards Dreux. Get off at Villiers-Neauphle-Pontchartrain or Montfort-l'Amaury/Méré. From Saint-Lazare station: train line L to La Défense then line U and bus n° 5 from Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. The bus does not run on Sundays.

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