maandag 9 februari 2015

Chateau of Navarre

During the First Empire it was granted to Napoleon's ex-wife Joséphine, who was created Duchess of Navarre.When Josephine arrived at the Chateau she was not pleased with the state that the Chateau had fallen into. She was not very impressed with the small rooms, the worn out woodwork, and the amount of water that surrounded the Chateau. As a result she wrote to Napoleon telling him that she was going to repair all of the ruins and embellish the estate with the bounty assigned to her.[4] While doing these repairs she spent a considerable amount of money returning the chateau to its previous state. She made the water that pooled around the chateau, into a flowing waterway instead of stagnant one.[5] The surrounding marsh area was used to expand the stables.[6] As a result the surrounding area benefitted. She did this by raising plantations, caused the marshes to be drained, public buildings were erected, and she provided the peasants with work opportunities. She also improved the roads leading to and from the forest of Évreux. Comte Roy acquired the property after Josephine and he let the property fall back into ruin.[7]

Josephine had little good to say: Everything here has to be done over. The château is not habitable. The people I have brought with me have only one little room each, and the doors and windows won't close. My quarters are also small and inconvenient. The woodwork is in bad condition. The park is magnificent; it is a valley between two hillsides covered with woods of the greatest beauty; but there is too much water. . . .8

Josephine's thoughts were all on her departure from Navarre, but as the spring quickly advanced and the gardeners undertook their tasks, the outdoor setting became a thing of beauty. A kinsman, Maurice de Tascher, visited Josephine early in May and has described his walk with her through the Garden of Hebe, where he saw roses and lilacs in bloom, running streams, and lawns so perfectly kept that 'art troubled the charms of nature'. She also showed him the Garden of Love, an enchanting combination of cascades, pools, statuary, and 'elegant perspectives'. Josephine seemed altogether worthy of the setting. That evening the young visitor wrote in his diary: 'Yes, still beautiful and seductive; despite her forty-five years, one would have taken her this morning for the elder sister of the Graces.'penelope.uchicago/Josephine

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