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the mad restoration of the Château de la Mercerie, the “little Versailles” in Charente


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the mad restoration of the Château de la Mercerie, the “little Versailles” in Charente

S.Bernuchon, CM.Denis, L.Latour, Images: Drone Air3Production – France 2

France Televisions

While it was falling into ruins, the castle of Mercerie, in Charente, is being saved by volunteers, passionate about architecture. A titanic job to bring life to an extraordinary building, nicknamed the little Versailles.

In the middle of the Charente countryside hides an unexpected marvel: the Château de la Mercerie, nicknamed “the little Versailles”. The castle is an unfinished dream, imagined by two brothers, the Rhétoré, which almost disappeared forever. Pierrette grew up within its walls. “I was a student, and I used this library to do my homework”, she says. Some members of his family were very close employees of the two owners.

It is the story of a deputy and his brother, passionate about architecture, who decided in the last century to build a huge castle. Local farmers are mobilized for the work. The grandiose project attracted the media of the time. The two brothers will however die ruined, without having been able to complete the construction.

Abandoned, the castle fell into ruins for 30 years. Hundreds of volunteers from the neighboring village took over the project in 2010. For more than ten years, they have spent all their free time saving heritage. If the restoration already amazes tourists from all over the world, the volunteers want to go even further.

Behind part of the facade, some rooms had never been built. Having become site manager of the future orangery, the mayor still cannot believe it. “If you had told me, 12 years ago, when this castle was in ruins, that we would be making pieces by imagining what the Rhétoré brothers wanted to do, I would have said to you: ‘This n ‘is not possible'”he confides.

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