Cathedral Palace - Entrance Hall 2020 - Saint-Omer (2)Cathedral Palace - Entrance Hall 2020 - Saint-Omer (2)
©Entrance hall of the Cathedral Palace - Saint-Omer|ALEXANDRE LADURON

Discover the Cathedral Palace

To live the Palace life

Pushing open the door of the Palais de la Cathédrale in Saint-Omer is an extraordinary adventure. On this visit, I discovered a house museum with a dream setting. Jean-Luc Montois, its owner, invites you to experience privileged moments, a journey through time and the decorative arts of the 19th century.

A visit by candlelight

Inside, darkness reigns, pierced only by the glow of small candles. Recollected, subdued atmosphere, a few murmurs, snatches of slightly astonished voices: one guesses a group of around thirty people, eagerly awaiting the master of ceremonies, for a candlelit tour of the Palais! This is one of the amazing formulas that Jean-Luc Montois offers at this unique venue in France.

A wonderful visit to the Palais

Visite Merveilleuse "Palais de la Cathédrale"
Visite Merveilleuse "Palais de la Cathédrale"
Visite Merveilleuse au "Palais de la Cathédrale" en janvier 2020

An inhabited historic home

When Jean-Luc discovered this former medical analysis laboratory, it had lain derelict for several years. For the past three years, he has been patiently restoring these premises, whose origins merge with those of Saint-Omer.

At the heart of the cathedral enclosure, a community of canons resided here in the 8th century. Jean-Luc has brought to this house with its centuries of history an exceptional personal collection of antique furniture, paintings and works of art. The historic residence thus has the quality of a museum, while being lived in and shared with visitors.

A setting unique in France

The first thing I see is a large marble hall with a profusion of painted decorations. It’s like being in an Italian palace! As if in a fairy tale, Jean-Luc narrates. “This house was bought in 1817 by a mysterious character, a stockbroker named Etienne Neyrat, husband of a wealthy Saint-Omer heiress.

In the space of a decade, he transformed these former canons’ houses into “palaces” with decorations in keeping with English and Italian tastes, then very much in vogue.” Everything had to be painstakingly scraped to bring back the original colors, and the frescoes, faux marbles and all the painted decorations had to be patiently repainted. It’s sumptuous.

All the senses on the alert

Here everything is lived, experienced and felt. Clocks delicately strike the hours. I breathe in intriguing scents. Each room is perfumed with a scent from the Empire period: tuberose, pine, incense, tobacco leaves, amber…. Here I am in the first salon, pink, magnificent with its solid rosewood, red mahogany, lemon and ebony parquet flooring. There are paintings all over the walls and so many artistic and historical anecdotes to listen to…

I open an Italian cabinet of curiosities from the late 16th century, sit in the comfortable Louis XV armchairs. Admiring yourself in the mirrors of the blue salon, trying your hand at a few quadrille steps on the parquet floor designed for this pleasure, picking up a book, an antique vase in hand or listening to music in the smoking room: I feel like I’m living a dream! I’ll let you climb the boldly curved staircase, which will lead you to further discoveries upstairs: the bedrooms, and Aunt Sophie’s apartments.

Live at the Palais!

Want to make yourself at home here, just like I did? It’s possible! Various tour packages allow you to “privatize” the Palais for a snack (you bring your cake) or a relaxing afternoon with friends, for dinner or lunch.

In the salon des dîners, a large central table is set for 20 guests, with collections of 18th and 19th century goldsmiths and porcelains! Here, you can dine on plates from an Ottoman-style Paris porcelain service: 187 pieces, each with a different floral design! Open your eyes, have fun, ask questions. Here, almost anything goes when it comes to history, art, fun and sharing!



du pays

de Saint-Omer