Abandoned in Chambourcy – The French Garden Ruins of ‘Desert de Retz’

Abandoned in Chambourcy - The French Garden Ruins of 'Desert de Retz'

The Désert de Retz is the ruined garden off an Unnamed Road, partially on the property of the Joyenval golf course, at the edge of the Forêt de Marly, in the commune of Chambourcy, France.

Abandoned in Chambourcy - The French Garden Ruins of 'Desert de Retz'

The garden, which was constructed around the 1780’s, now lies abandoned from its former use after neglect through out the 1800’s. The aristocrat, Francios Racine de Monville, bought the 99 acre estate in 1774.

The property included a house, service quarters and land, which was expanded for the Désert in 1785. With this purchase additions were made and over 15 new buildings were added to the garden. A rock entrance to the garden began the plans of a detailed get-away which included : a rock Pyramid, ruined Gothic church, Hermitage, other greenhouses, the Ruined Column, a thatched cottage or Chaumière, the Tartar Tent and several others. Some of the exotic and eclectic buildings have been lost to time and nature, while others are slowly being reclaimed by the world.

In 1786, shortly after most of the Désert de Retz was constructed the King of Sweden, Gustav III, visited the gardens. Other visitors included Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, and Thomas Jefferson.

In 1792, Francios Racine de Monville, sold the estate and the Désert de Retz to Lewis Disney Ffytche. The estate was seized in 1793 at the onset of the War of the First Coalition. The property was then bought and sold 4 more times to various owners, none of who did any upkeep to the property. By the 1930’s, Désert de Retz, was in a ruinous state and the buildings were listed and later, in 1941, classified as a National Heritage Site of France (Monument Historique). Afterwards, some of the buildings were rescued from futher deterioration, though many had already succumbed to decay.

Since 1992, part of the Désert de Retz land has been used by the Joyenval golf course.

The Temple to the God Pan.

Abandoned in Chambourcy - The French Garden Ruins of 'Desert de Retz'

The ruined column.

Abandoned in Chambourcy - The French Garden Ruins of 'Desert de Retz'

This is a drawing of the interior of the Ruined Column dated 1785.

Abandoned in Chambourcy - The French Garden Ruins of 'Desert de Retz'

The ruined Gothic church.

Abandoned in Chambourcy - The French Garden Ruins of 'Desert de Retz'

Abandoned in Chambourcy - The French Garden Ruins of 'Desert de Retz'

Abandoned in Chambourcy - The French Garden Ruins of 'Desert de Retz'

Where is the abandoned French landscape garden, Désert de Retz of Forêt de Cruye, located? You can find it with these coordinates! 48.889889,2.017193.

Images by Lionel Allorge / Wikimedia Commons.
Images used under Creative Commons License Attribution Share Alike 3.0 unported.

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