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Archery and Valois museum


facade 2Built on a promontory standing out in the plateau of Valois, it occupies a dominant position in Crépy-en-Valois. By 1170- 80, Thibault III of Crépy-Nanteuil built a bottom chapel dedicated to Saint-Aubin and opening onto the city. His son Philippe I, comrade in arms of King Philippe Auguste at the Bouvines Battle (1214), affirmed his prestige and wealth by raising the chapel and building a castle destined to residential use.

The second floor traditionally contained the kitchens and the communal areas. More surprising was the comfort of the noble rooms, illuminated thanks to the presence of large windows. The lord would receive his guests in a vast room, covered by a magnificent structure, always very admired by visitors. As soon as the castle lost its residential purpose, in the second half of the 13th century, this space became little by little a granary.On the same floor, the lord and the people close to him could access the high chapel of Sainte-Marie, which was exclusively reserved for them. Connected to the bottom chapel of Saint-Aubin, both had been used by canons who would go around from one level to the other, through a staircase built in the thickness of the walls.

In the 15th century, the castle was attached to the domain of the Dukes of Valois. It became the office of the bailiwick tribunal and of the Duchy's administration. The jurists eventually became the elite of the City. Several beautiful dwellings of the Old Crépy are evidence of this fact. The castle also served as a prison from the end of the 18th century to 1850. In fact, on a cold night of October, it had an illustrious guest, the poet Gérard de Nerval. Thereafter, local associations, the theater and a cinema where housed between its walls before leaving place to a museum of arts and popular traditions right before the Second World War. In 1949, the museum's collections are oriented towards archery and the religious patrimony of Valois.


arc persan 2If the first known arc, found in Stellmoor, Germany, was made 11,000 years ago, this kind of arm probably existed already 5,000 years before that. Used for hunting and war, the arc can be found in all continents: its manufacturing and its use vary depending on the natural resources and the local cultures. In Africa, the arc, known as "simple" because of its fabrication made from one variety of wood, proved not very powerful, but nonetheless lethal since the arrows were empoisoned. In the Amazon, the arcs were exceptionally large, most of the time nearing two meters in length. In Asia, however, cavaliers used arms' "composites", of an extreme strength. In Japan, archery has become an appreciated martial art called Kyudô.

The golden era of archery in Europe was certainly the Middle Age. During the Hundred Years’ War, English archers had been armed with long bows and thus inflicted great defeats upon the French in Crécy and in Azincourt. The corps of Franc Archers, in charge of the cities ‘police’, was created by Charles VII in 1448. Later on, during the 16th century, the arc and the arbalest lost their military role in favor of firearms like the arquebus. Nevertheless, archery is still practiced in traditional companies, still active nowadays, especially in Picardie and in Ile-de-France. The museum collections reflect the richness of these traditions by presenting events such as l'abat l'oiseau (Popinjay) or la fête du Bouquet provincial (the celebration of the provincial bouquet).

Apart from these practices, archery is also an Olympic discipline. The museum's collections evoke the know-how of the arc makers, and the technical progress from which archers have benefited from, both from the sports domain and bow hunting (regulated in France since 1995).


saint sebastien 2The legend of Saint Sebastian: captain of the guard under the Roman emperor Diocletian, and converted Christian, Sebastian took advantage of his position to save many of his coreligionists from the persecutions of the end of the 3rd century. In reprisal, the imperial archers shot him with arrows. Taken in and cured by Irene, Sebastian recovered miraculously. Subsequently, the Emperor ordered for him to be clubbed to death and to throw his corpse in the sewers of Rome.

The Roman tradition attributes several miracles to Saint Sebastian. Therefore, its cult spread throughout the world and he remains one of the most popular martyrs, regularly appealed to against pest epidemics. From all geographic origins, representations of the saint, painted engraved or sculptured are preserved at the museum and cross all periods of time: from medieval times to the contemporary era. They illustrate the popularity and the universal character of this famous figure.

Thanks to the many donations and deposits, notably form the Scart family, Part of the museum's collections and sculptures representing Saint Sebastian come from different geographical origins, and were completed by several painting from the 17th and the 18th centuries. Representations of the Saint are stereotypical and correspond to the same model: Sebastian, attached by the wrists to a tree, is transfixed by several arrows. This theme constitutes a true hyphen between archery and the collections' sacred art presented at the museum.


Aware of the necessity to protect and to make known a patrimony threatened and often hardly accessible to the public, many municipalities of the cantons of Crépy-en-Valois, Betz and Nanteuil-le-Haudouin have accepted since 1973 to bring the most beautiful sculptures of their churches to the museum of archery and Valois.

This set, composed mostly of statues of wood or stone, most often polychromes, from the 13th to the 19th centuries, is remarkable by its quality and diversity. The strategic location of Valois, between the Ile-de-France and the great Picard cultural centers, has made a region criss-crossed by many artists. The artworks from the 16th century, of which many are classified as historic monuments, are particularly beautiful since the reconstruction of churches back then were numerous.

In this gallery of holy figures, like in the whole Christian West, the Virgin Mary occupies an important place. There are many sculptures that witness the booming and the development of the Marian cult: from the young hard-studying girl next to her mother Saint Anne, to the radiant young mother, and finally the woman crying over her son's corpse. Moreover, other figures evoke the popular devotion of the inhabitants of Valois. Saints belong to their everyday life; their celebrations give rhythm to the agricultural life. Each trade chose their patron saint, like Eligius for the goldsmiths, or Laurent who was martyrized on a grill and thus became the patron saint for cooks and broilers. Their relation becomes even more personal when a certain saint is prayed to heal a particular disease...


vierge pilon 2               saint erasme 2               bras reliquaire 2
Practical information
Archery and Valois Museum
Rue Gustave Chopinet
60800 Crépy-en-Valois
Phone: 33.(0)
Email :
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Opening Hours:
Open daily from March 28th to November 10th 2015, from 2 to 6 PM. Closed on Tuesdays and on the 1st of May.
Admission Prices:
Full price: 4€
Reduced price: 3€ (students, teachers, unemployed, disabled persons, groups of 10 or more, numerous families).
Free Admission:  under 26 years old.

Guided visits for groups:
Fare: 30€ (3€ per person).
Groups of 10 to 30 people.
Visits and workshops for schools and day care centers:
For a guided visit or a whole discovery day at the museum
Download our informative brochure
Birthday at the museum:
Celebrate a birthday party with a playful visit, making your own souvenir, and archery.
Fare of 95€ per group (from 5 to 15 kids).

For further information or to reserve a visit contact us at:

Mairie de Crépy-en-valois

2, avenue du Général Leclerc - 60800 Crépy-en-Valois
Tél. : - Fax :

Du lundi au vendredi de 8h30 à 12h et de 13h30 à 17h30
(17h le vendredi).
Permanence accueil le samedi de 9h à 12h (sur rendez-vous). 

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