The magnificent building and grounds of the Château de Voisins at Louveciennes were the scene of many historic and literary moments before becoming the BNP Paribas campus.
Home to an old friend of Louis XIV
The Château de Voisins at Louveciennes in the Île-de-France (Greater Paris) region was built in the 17th century and belonged to Louis Ogier, Marquis of Cavoye, a loyal friend and confidant of Louis XIV. Cavoye’s title of ‘Grand Maréchal des Logis’, meant that he was in charge of arranging the King’s famous sojourns with his friends at the nearby Château de Marly. Cavoye used to host at his own Château de Voisins residence members of the party who could not be accommodated in the royal residence. Playwright Jean Racine, writer Nicolas Boileau and architect Jules Hardouin-Mansard also stayed at the Château de Voisins, where the ‘Sun King’ also used to pay him visits. At the end of his life, Cavoye several times asked Louis XIV to relieve him of his post but the monarch refused, famously saying ‟Cavoye, let us die together”. Louis Ogier de Cavoye died at the beginning of 1716, five months after the Sun King.
A site steeped in literary and artistic tradition
During the following centuries, the Louveciennes domain changed hands several times but one thing seemingly remained constant: its ability to inspire numerous artists, poets and writers. André Chénier composed his Odes à Fanny (Odes to Fanny) there, and Leconte de Lisle wrote his Rose de Louveciennes (Rose of Louveciennes) on the premises. The impressionist painters Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley immortalised the grounds. In the late 19th century the banker Guillaume Beer, great-nephew of the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer, and his Florentine wife Elena Goldschmidt hosted a literary salon there. Author Colette, writer and film maker Jean Cocteau and actress Julia Bartet often visited the Château de Voisins.
A campus for BNCI, BNP and then BNP Paribas
After the Second World War the Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI) purchased the domain for use as part of its new human resources management approach. Tennis courts, mini-golf and a stadium were built in the park. Henri Cochet, one of the famous four French ‘musketeers’ who enthralled tennis spectators in the 1920s and 30s, gave tennis lessons to bank staff there for some ten years. Could this have been the origin of the Group’s enduring partnership with the sport? Cultural and social activities, children’s entertainment, and training sessions were also held at the Château. In 1992, BNP Chairman René Thomas inaugurated a new training centre there. Since then the site has become the BNP Paribas campus, providing work and recreation spaces for the use of both Group entities and other French companies and hosting more than 1,300 events every year.