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1 I would like to introduce you to a wonderful chateau. This chateau s problem is that it used to be a hospital and it is now part of a larger hospital complex which decided 10 years ago to abandon it and to create a more modern and less expensive new building for its patients somewhere else in the parc. This new age for the chateau started in 1992 and from then until 2007 the chateau went through a very sad period, far from its glorious past, in which it was burglarized and turned into chaos. In 2006, the chateau of St Martin was really in danger since the rain fell inside the building, damaging the whole structure and destroying everything inside. 1. History I would like to briefly go over the history of the domain on which the chateau stands. In 1875, Alphonse Philippe Alfred Régnier, called Duc of Massa, inherited the old Domain of St Martin du Tertre with its sad 18 th century chateau. As he belonged to a very rich family that had been famous since Napoleon the 1 st, he decided to destroy everything and transform this modest piece of land into a gorgeous palace worthy of a prince, although he was not. the previous castle from 1775 the current castle from 1875 Not far from Chantilly, the building site was first a demolition area. This being a brand new chateau, the Duke decided to copy a nearby royal chateau : the famous chateau of Maisons whose garden (drawn by Le Notre) was sold by Mr Laffitte to an estate agent, at around the same period. In any case, the duke asked the famous gardener Louis Sulpice Varré and the architect Hippolyte Destailleur to design the whole project which consisted in building: - the new chateau Château St Martin Château de Maisons Laffitte 1

2 - a colonnade colonnade, Château de St Martin colonnade, Château de Versailles - a small chateau for the musicians and the main fountain the fountain the small chateau - an opera house in 1900 in 2005 the inside 2

3 - an orangery and a special rounded garden in front of it as in Versailles. In 1930 In the two lodges on each side of the entrance gate, though the ones in Maisons had been demolished by Laffitte - a new park with plants coming from south America 3

4 - The same sculptures as in Versailles Versailles St Martin du Tertre - huge glasshouses for his incredible collection of orchids - subterranean passages In 1900 The chateau, called «le château de Franconville à St Martin du Tertre» was so beautiful that some critics at the end of the 19 th century claimed that the garden was the most extraordinary in France (trees from South America, exotic flowers, 100 gardeners, lakes, small islands in the forest, landing stage made of wood a small Venice). As the duke was a big fan of opera, he would organize a special show four times a year in his own opera house situated in the garden and accessible by a subterranean passage from the chateau. His Parisian friends would come on a special train especially booked for them. After the fabulous dinner and incredible fire works, the guests would take their seats in the small opera house, which resembled a kind of small Bordeaux opera house. The music was great because the duke asked the musicians and singers of Paris opera to perform the show. In addition, the duke would compose his own operas, which were quite successful during the empire of Napoleon III. 4

5 2. Pictures of the château: For the hospital hospital For the Château finally destroyed in 2008! The ugly link Before After 5

6 A challenge in 2008 was to find money to replace all the windows (more than 100), unblock the gutters, mend the slate roof that had been quite damaged by thieves and finally to wash the wall building while using giant scaffolding. Without this work, I really think that the chateau would have disappeared quickly, since there was really significant rain penetration inside the building. In the end, we raised enough money to fund everything and the work lasted for 6 months. Today the chateau is dry. The same work has been done in the opera house and in the orangery where supporting struts have been placed for what was a slowly collapsing roof New windows, June 2007 giant scaffolding May Le Château Beijing Laffitte Works: Cost: $ 40 M As matter of interest, Mr Zhang Yu Chen, a famous Chinese businessman, came to France a few years ago quite anonymously. The aim of his trip was to visit French chateaux, to fall in love with one and to copy it in Beijing. By chance, he came to visit Maisons Laffitte anonymously and took many pictures of the inside. As the wonderful staircase of Maisons was closed for work, he did not see what it looks like. When he went back to China, thanks to his pictures many Chinese artists succeeded in copying the sculptures and the decoration of the French chateau. The result is really impressive. However, as he did not take any pictures of the staircase, he decided to imagine a new one in the middle of the chateau whereas the original in Maisons is situated at the right of the building. Later, perhaps Art historians will ask themselves why the staircase in not the same as in Maisons and the reason will be really unexpected!!! 6

7 The 3 rd Castle of Maisons Laffitte in Beijing! And its owner Zhang Yuchen 7

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