Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »

Boulogne-Billancourt, France

Château Edmond de Rothschild

This crumbling, graffiti-covered mansion sits tantalizingly within reach of the proletariat who frequent a French public park. 

The Château Edmond de Rothschild was built from 1855 to 1861 as the centerpiece to a sprawling French estate for the banker James de Rothschild.

Originally built in the style of Louis XIV and surrounded by legendary classical and exotic gardens, World War II was not kind to the villa, during which time it was both plundered by the Nazis and sacked by American troops during a series of maneuvers in 1945. Having been abandoned as living quarters by members of the family for years, the Baron Edmund de Rothschild (James’s son) sold the property to the mayor of Boulogne for a symbolic franc in 1979.

Immediately thereafter, the château was sold off for several million francs to Saudi Sheik Khalid Abdulaziz Al Ibrahim, whereupon construction of a main road and hospital truncated the estate’s once famed gardens. Today, a lovely, public outdoors park exists on the Rothschild estate’s grounds, though it pales in comparison in terms of both size and splendor to the same grounds’ golden days of yore.

Visitors today will find the Château nestled among the trees behind fences among the park’s far reaches. Access to the graffiti-covered manse itself is strictly forbidden as the roof has partially collapsed, yet it is remains a haunting place of beauty. An active community of urban explorers repeatedly prove ways to approach and explore the château do exist for those willing to risk the consequences of being caught mid-trespass.