To the south of Essonne, the Méréville Estate, funded by Catherine Deneuve, is the last example of the most accomplished Anglo-Chinese picturesque garden from the end of the 18th century. Patronage will make it possible to preserve and revive this landscape punctuated with follies, lakes, rivers, grottos and artificial rock formations.
A One-Of-A-Kind Creation in Europe
The Estate of Méréville is the work of the Marquis de Laborde, a contemporary of Louis XV as well as an important financer and art lover. He surrounded himself with prestigious garden designers from his time – François-Joseph Bélanger followed by Hubert Robert – in order to create a landscaped garden according to the purest tastes of the 1750s. From the French formal garden that he acquired in 1784, the Marquis de Laborde kept nothing. The Juine, a tranquil river that flowed in a straight line, was rerouted in order to create islands, twists and turns and lakes. Châteaubriand himself succumbed to its bucolic charms as well as those of Nathalie, the daughter of the Marquis de Laborde. In this romantic oasis, a passionate romance developed between the two of them and the poet made her into the “muse” of Méréville.
More Accessibility to the Public
Armed with this patrimonial gem, which radiates far beyond Essonne’s borders, the Department would like to restore the Estate of Méréville to its original splendor.
Starting in 2017, a development and restoration to progressively open Méréville’s gardens up to the public was started. Visitor walks were created according to the latest safety standards after paths were rebuilt and the bridges crossing the Juine were progressively restored. The Estate then reopened its doors to the public in the spring of 2018.
The Department renovated the esplanade’s gate and upgraded safety standards in the ground-floor rooms as well as in the small stucco dining room, which was the Estate’s first folly. Consequently, on the occasion of the 2018 European Heritage Days, visitors were able to discover, exceptionally, the castle’s ground floor and admire four facsimile paintings by Hubert Robert, which used to hang in the small salon in the 18th century.
In addition, visitors can learn more about the park through the smartphone application Balades en Essonne and, in particular, the new departmental hiking path Balades en pays du cresson. This application makes it possible, among other things, to read about the Méréville Estate and look at the illustrations of the picturesque garden’s scenery and follies painted by Hubert Robert.
However, in order to reopen the entire park to visitors, it is still necessary to restore the site’s landscaped “scenery.” With this goal in mind, the Department has planned for the restoration of some of its follies like the footbridges. In addition, it is essential to restore the Estate’s entire hydraulic network in order to reestablish ecological continuity within the estate, while conserving the cultural and historical identity of the aquatic scenery.
The entire investment project (2017-2021) for the Department will cost€8.3 million.
Patronage will make it possible to support the garden’s development projects and restore the Estate of Méréville to its original splendor.
Key and Upcoming Restoration Projects for the Estate
- Waterproofing the castle: restoration of the castle’s facades, structure and roofing.
- Upgrading the park’s safety standards: restoration of the bridges and footbridges crossing the Juine in the Large Meadow, development of safe and delineated visitor itineraries.
- Restoration of the garden: hydro-ecological projects in order to restore its historical configuration, in particular, its ornamental ponds, key elements of the garden’s landscape.
Consult the project pages or contact us for more information on the restoration projects.
Méréville in a few words
- Date of purchase by the Essonne Department: 2000
- Classified as a Historical Monument
- Location: Méréville (southern part of Essonne)
- Surface area of the estate: 58 hectares