The Abbaye de Lagrasse, one of the most powerful abbeys in Europe in the Middle Ages, was founded in the 8th century under the protection of Charlemagne. It is a magnificent monument that presents a unique catalogue of architectural styles. In the 14th century, the current church and fortifications were built. The monumental tower was added in the 16th century, while the principal courtyard, monk’s dormitory and the impressive ochre sandstone cloister were added in the 18th century.
During the Revolution, the state seized the abbey, displaced its monks and the property fell into near ruin. A congregation of monks, the Chanmoines Réguliers de la Mère de Dieu, returned in 2004 and rededicated it to its original use. Extensive restorations are planned through 2012 which will be financed thanks to FHS in collaboration with the Florence Gould Foundation and additional matching funds from the region, to restore the cloister. This project is vital to maintaining the stability of the entire structure.
Created by Jules Gravereaux, the Roseraie du Val-de-Marne, just south of Paris, was designed in 1899 by Edouard André as the world’s first rose garden. A theme garden that tells the history of the celebrated flower, its geography and its evolution, the Roseraie presents an exceptional collection. Gravereaux’s work was celebrated worldwide and he was bestowed with numerous honorary titles. His collection included 4,000 varieties of cultivated roses and 900 species of wild roses.
By 1910, he had assembled all the then-known forms of the genus Rosa: 8,000 botanical species and horticultural varieties were methodically identified and classified. A worldwide network of botanists, gardeners and breeders are drawn to this unique property, while visitors are enchanted by its colorful and fragrant array of roses. Conferences, concerts, readings, flower contests, and a Rose Fair are among its many activities. The Roseraie project is a testament to the superb collaborative efforts of both public and private entities.
During the Renaissance this austere fortress was transformed by Jean-Louis de Courbon into an elegant 17th-century residence. At the same time, the main wing of the building underwent important transformations that embellished the château: the drawing-room with painted wood paneling dates from this period as does the Louis XIII room with painted wood beams and the Saintongeaise (territory of Saintes) kitchen. In 1908 Pierre Loti referred to it as ‘Sleeping Beauty’s Castle”.
A few years later, the château and its gardens were saved by Paul Chénereau, who undertook a vast restoration campaign that has been continued by his descendants. Three generations have incessantly worked to preserve and restore the château and its gardens. An initial French Heritage Society grant in 2006 assisted with the restoration of the vault and roof of the 17th century northern commons. This is an essential element to preserve, as is serves as support for the entire château. French Heritage Society members were received for dinner during its 25th Anniversary trip; the coup de coeur felt during a subsequent visit led the New York Chapter to raise funds for a second grant to complete the preservation effort of this sublime piece of history.
The Château de Josselin dates to the early 11th century when the fortress and surrounding town were built. This remarkable example of feudal and Renaissance architecture features an interior façade with extraordinary granite lacework. In 1629, the keep and part of the walls were destroyed. Its interior was restored in Neo-Gothic style during the 19th century, and the French garden was created in the 1900s. The distinguished Rohan family, settled in Brittany for over 1000 years, built the château and still resides there. A grant will help to restore damaged tower masonry. Duc Josselin de Rohan, as a French Senator and opinion maker, and his wife both play an active role in Brittany’s development.