Why Such a Construction Site?
After the 2014 redesign of the romantic and landscaped gardens, in the image of those that existed in 1850, the Azay-le-Rideau Chateau began a wide-spanning construction site at the beginning of 2015.
The aim is to restore the original carpentry dating back to the 16th century, the slate cover, the facade and its sculpted ornamentation - which were suffering from several ailments with the increase in salines and a lichen invasion.
"This construction work was necessary in order to restore the castle's luster, even if it was never really lost. We have a duty to pass it along so that our children can discover it as well," explains Chrystelle Laurent-Rogowski, the administrator of the castle. It was acquired by the State in 1905 in light of the project to open the National Renaissance Museum, which is located at Ecouen today.
This building, financed between 1518 and 1523 by Gilles Berthelot, former mayor of Tours and treasurer to Francois I, will be furnished on the first floor with 80 objects of art, tapestries and accessories of the 19th century, put in storage by the National Furnisher.
"From the inventory of furnishings at the death of Armand-Marie de Biencourt, the owner of the building in the 19th century, we were able to establish equivalences. And we have also bought the dishware of Beincourt, kitchen sets and copies of portraits of the sixteenth century, from the collection of the Chantilly Museum," she clarifies.
What Will Visitors Discover?
During the construction (which should come to an end at the beginning of 2018), this property of the Historic Monuments Center (CMN), which welcomed 273,000 visitors in 2014, will remain accessible to the public.
Visitors are invited to discover the corridors of the site and the ancestral savoir-faire of the artisans. "This is a first for the national monuments. Instead of hiding the construction site, we are sharing it with our visitors, for whom we assist in discovering our doctrine and code of professional ethics.
Nice palisades with explanatory signs mark out the path. A glass passageway at the center of the stripped carpentry allows for a close up view of the artisans at work. Educational and playful workshops on the restoration are also scheduled.
Who Is Financing?
While public resources are decreasing, the CMN will be responsible for the total tab of this vast construction site evaluated at 19.8 million euros. The public institution hopes, nevertheless, to lighten its contribution through a public contribution, in the same way as the one that previously took place with the Pantheon in Paris, France.
The creation of gardens, the furnishing of the castle and the restoration of the facade should give a new elan to the monument. Azay-le-Rideau has set the objective for itself to become one of the five most-visited chateaus of the Loire Valley.
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Original article, originally published in French by La Croix on July 21 and written by Xavier Renard, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.