HISTORY OF THE GARDENS

La Quintinie gardens propped by piles in the middle of marshland

A walk in Charente Maritime


1-In the seventeenth century, Jean-Louis de Courbon was the lord of the estate.

In the second part of the century, he created the superb French gardens which are confined to the west by the little river Bruant and are continued along the esplanade between the two Louis XIII pavilions.

 

2-During the XVIIIth century the gardens fell, little by little into disuse because the Courbon lived near Paris in order to be closer to the Royal court.

By the end of the XIXth century, the abandoned château was, for Julien Viaud, the future Pierre Loti (1850-1923), a place for walking, dreaming and inspiration (cf. Prime Jeunesse). In memory of his youth, and faced with the destruction of his "beloved forest", he lanced a vibrant appeal (Le Figaro, 21 October 1908) for someone to stop the destruction of the forest and buy the château.

3-In 1920, Paul Chénereau (1869-1967), born in the area, acquires La Roche Courbon.

 

From 1928 to 1939 he creates the marvellous gardens one can see today.

 

4-Numerous projects and a prolonged exchange of ideas between the architect-landscape gardener Fernand Duprat (1887-1976) and Paul Chénereau resulted in the final design characterised by its serenity and balance. Up to that time, the design had stopped, on the west side, at the river Bruant and it was then extended by digging out a watercourse, constructing a jetty below the gardens and creating a waterfall against the hill.

5-Twenty years later, the marshland, which had served as a defence for the château, insidiously became the gardens enemy: it caused subsidence of 8 cm a year under the balustrades, the little towers, the paths and shrubs. The splendid gardens are threatened again.

The only solution found by Jacques Badois, Paul Chénereau’s son in law and father of present owner of La Roche Courbon (Christine Sébert): re-construct the gardens on piles.

This giant task spread over 25 years was completed 1976-2000. 2.500 piles were driven down to a depth of 13 metres until they reached firm ground, the visitor has difficulty in imagining that he is walking in a hanging garden !

6-Financing such a project was only possible thanks to the participation of the Regional Council of Poitou-Charentes and the Departmental Council of the Charente Maritime..

A permanent 20 panels exhibition shows the development of these gardens from prehistoric times to the present day.

Contact us

Our secretary is reachable all year, Monday to Friday
from 9 :15am to 12:30am and 1:30pm to 6pm.
The reception is open daily from 9am to 7pm from 01/05 to 30/09 from 10am to 12 and from 2pm to 6pm at weekends in January, from 01/02 to 30/04 and from 01/10 to 31/12.
 

17250  Saint-Porchaire

Tél : 05 46 95 60 10

Fax : 05 46 95 65 22

Mail : contact@larochecourbon.fr

 

Get in touch

AMICOUR

La Roche Courbon friends association

Come join us and participate in our many activities by joining the 260 members.

Registration allows you free access to the area throughout the year.

You can download your bulletin  here