In 2017, the perception of Chambord will be totally transformed; the château is readying itself to recover and rediscover its 17th-century French gardens.
Initially commissioned by Louis XIV, as of 2017 the gardens will occupy more than sixteen acres at the foot of the castle. They were conceived and created in 1734. They are traversed, as with an arrow, by a 4.5-kilometer-log axis that pinpoints the position of the renowned double helix staircase. The garden restoration project was validated in 2015 by the French national commission for historic monuments. The Chambord project is exemplary as regards historical accuracy and rare in terms of its cross-referencing of scientific data: archives, past plans, engravings as well as geophysical prospection that confirms within a few dozen centimeters the precise locations specified in the original plans.
Invitations to tender were sent out in autumn 2015 so that work on the field could get underway in autumn 2016 and be completed by spring 2017.
Project financing (3.5 million euros) was rendered possible thanks to the outstanding assistance of a francophile philanthropist, Mr. Stephen Schwarzman.
The park project is part and parcel of a large-scale restoration of the outskirts of the château, a major undertaking that will also involve remodeling of the perspectives afforded by the grand landscape spanning the center of the castle.
HISTORY OF THE GARDENS
In 1519, having been built thanks to the determination of François I and through the inspiration of Leonardo da Vinci, the château of Chambord rose up from the heart of the Sologne marshlands. It possessed spacious game-rich outskirts in which the king could hunt to his heart’s content. Louis XIV began to sanitize the site; more generally, he wished to provide the château landscaped surroundings worthy of its architecture. He had two gardens created, one northern and the other eastern; they are clearly visible on the oldest plans of the site that have come down to us. In 1734, under the reign of Louis XIV, the gardens were restructured and embellished with grove and tree-lined alleys. Up until the 1930s, the northern and eastern sections were maintained and replanted in a configuration highly reminiscent of the 18th century. After 1970, the gardens were left in a minimalist form, which was conserved over four decades.
Restoration of the French-style gardens is an exceedingly visible project, and it is of international interest. If the gardens’ image cannot be dissociated from the magnificent world-famous northern facade of the château, it is because they are located at the foot of the castle, on landscapes expressly designed for Louis XIV. Visitors will discover the château not as an isolated object, but rather as a key element in a majestic composition bringing together wild natural space (the park), meticulously designed space (the gardens) and a truly exceptional architectural construction.
START OF WORK: AUGUST 2016
Cost: 3.5 million euros of investment, under the exceptional patronage, in a personal capacity, of the American philanthropist Stephen A. Schwarzman
THE GARDEN RESTORATION IN FIGURES:
- 5 acres;
- 44000 m² of graveled alley;
- 32500 plants;
- 18000 m² of lawn;
- 800 trees planted;
- 5 months of work;
- 5-million euro budget;
- more than 100 persons engaged;
- 14 years of historical research