Paris might not have been the capital of France – this city almost replaced it

Paris might not have been the capital of France

If we look a little into the history of our country, another city in the provinces had a chance of becoming the capital of France, at least, it was in the eyes of Leonardo da Vinci.

When we imagine France, especially abroad, most people immediately make a link with the Parisian capital, a symbol of romanticism and love. It must be said that this large city of more than 2 million inhabitants concentrates all the places of power, such as the Élysée and the ministries, but also many intellectual places and tourist monuments (the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Cœur, etc. ) which have made it famous throughout the world. Its gastronomy, its architecture, its know-how and its title of “fashion capital”, make Paris the symbol of France. But what few people know is that the city of Paris might not have been named as the capital.

Indeed, if we look into history books and if we are particularly interested in the career of Leonardo da Vinci, a genius artist of the Renaissance, who painted the famous portrait of Mona Lisa, we realizes that the destiny of Paris could have been quite different. At the time, Leonardo da Vinci collaborated with François I, then king of France, who commissioned several projects from him. The king becomes, in a way, his patron. In 1516, François 1ᵉʳ entrusted the artist, whom he would later name as the king’s first painter, architect and engineer, with a colossal and ambitious project.

The project: transform the city of Louise de Savoie (the mother of King Francis I) into the capital of the Kingdom of France. This town is called Romorantin and is located in the department of Loir-et-Cher. Charmed by the idea, Leonardo da Vinci quickly arrived in France and planned to create a city for the court, with a palace and royal stables, and above all, an ingenious network of canals and waterways linking central France to Rhône and the Saône. A first !

In 1517, the first major foundation work began, but unfortunately, no walls were built. The project will not succeed in part because the artist is ill and getting older. It will subsequently be abandoned and then forgotten. Today, Romorantin consoles itself by being the natural capital of Sologne. As for Paris, the city officially became the capital of France in 1792.