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Desert de Retz, Chambourcy

#18 of 26 in Parks in Yvelines
Garden · Nature / Park
The Désert de Retz is an Anglo-Chinois or French landscape garden - created on the edge of the forêt de Marly in the commune of Chambourcy, in north-central France. It was created at the end of the 18th century by the aristocrat François Racine de Monville on his 40ha estate. This was one of a number of landscape gardens created in France at the time influenced by English examples. The architect Boullée was involved in the creation of both Monville's town houses; it is less likely he had anything to do with le Desert de Retz, although Monville did, for a while, engage as assistant to the architect Francois Barbier until 1780. Monville probably designed many of the features and structures himself or had a strong supervisory role.
The garden included between 17 and 20 structures, of which only 10 still survive, mostly referring to classical antiquity. Those buildings included a summer house (the "colonne brisée", or ruined column), in the form of the base of a shattered column from an imaginary gigantic temple, an ice house in the form of an Egyptian pyramid, an obelisk, a colonnaded temple dedicated to Pan, an open-air theatre, a ruined Gothic Chapel and a Chinese pavilion.
In 1774, Monville bought the estate of about from Antoine Joseph Basire. It included an existing house, a formal parterre garden and service quarters. By 1785 he had extended the estate to 90arpent in size.
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Desert de Retz reviews

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31 reviews
  • I love walking around this park in the forest Marly-le-Roi. Desert du Retz offers some great monuments and has a supposedly excellent golf course.  more »
  • This is an enjoyable and interesting place, but not open very often. It makes for a nice outing if you are in the vicinity of Chambourcy. However, prior booking is required.  more »
  • Un bel après midi de découvertes historique, bucolique (des arbres classés étonnants et superbes) de l espace, du calme, des panneaux explicatifs très interessants. Un accueil très agréable . Un lieu à découvrir....
  • Superbe journée du patrimoine au Désert de Retz. Nous connaissons le Désert depuis de nombreuses années et le travail de restauration et valorisation du lieu et de son esprit est à saluer. Danses baroques, démonstrations équestres et conférences ont contribué à rendre cette journée magique sous un grand soleil. Nous recommandons!
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