Park and Castle of Thoiry
Prestige issue 261, April 2015
Third cultural and touristic site of the region île de France, a heritage to preserve
The castle seen from the side of the garden.© Arthus Boutin/ Parc et Château de Thoiry
50 km away from Paris, in the Yvelines department, are the Thoiry Castle dating from the XVIth and XVIIth centuries and its Zoo. Built in 1559 at the request of Raoul Moreau, treasurer of King Henry II, the castle is an architectural work that had the ambition to serve the lifestyle of a noble family, but also to satisfy the passions of his esoteric owner. The residence was designed by architect Philibert de l’Orme and his master mason Olivier Ymbert. Standing on the top of a hill, the castle is the backbone of a solar calendar whose horizon is the dial. Its exterior dimensions are based on the number 5 and those of the Interior on the number 6. The square, symbol of earth, and the double square generate rectangles and dynamic cubes. Extended by the prospects of the gardens, the axes of its windows are the needles that mark the special moments of the advancement of the sun in the sky. At the summer solstice, the day star rises in the central axis north-east of the castle, and at the winter solstice, it sets in the southwest axis. A side window transparency is at sunrise and sunset at the spring and autumn equinoxes.
Transcending arithmetic progressions, geometric progressions based on the golden number, grant the architecture of the castle to the proportions of the universe.
Inhabited by the family of La Panouse in direct line from 1609, the Thoiry castle was opened to the public in 1965 by Paul de La Panouse, who was 21 years old then, to give it a social and cultural function. Visitors are invited to freely walk through the receptions on the ground floor and discover the art and antiques that have kept their function and memory over the centuries, like the exceptional harpsichord of Angelique de Marescot in the White Reception. Manufactured by Blanchet in 1733, it is one of the last harpsichords in the world that has kept its strings and its original mechanism. In the same room is the piano-forte on which Chopin gave Clemence Marquet music lessons, second wife of an ancestor of the Count of La Panouse. In the tapestry salon, one can admire a Gobelins wonder offered by King Louis XVI, and three other tapestries in the Grand Staircase, illustrating the loves of the Greek gods.
Mecca of the history of France and Europe, the Château de Thoiry delivers to the public the secrets of the past.
Animal Park of Thoiry
At the heart of an area of 400 ha, the Park and Castle of Thoiry offers visitors an animal park created in 1967 by Paul de La Panouse, supported by his parents Antoine and Solange, Count and Countess of La Panouse. Populated with some 152 species, it is composed of a reserve for animals of 60 hectares, which we can visit by car, and a Foot Walk established in 95 hectares of gardens. In 2009, Colomba and Edmond de La Panouse, 13th generation to live in the Castle, took over the reins of the company and the family estate by adding an extra dimension. Under their leadership, the Park and Chateau de Thoiry also becomes a real Noah’s ark.
Lioness on tunnel.© Arthus Boutin/ Parc et Château de Thoiry
Designed by Colomba de La Panouse Turnbull and inaugurated in 2013, the Ark of small animals is an exceptional and unique construction, a unique and innovative project in France. Immense building of wood and hemp of 500m2 partly immersed in the heart of a European wetland and capped with a roof covered with plants, Ark present poorly known species, belonging to the class of amphibians and the group of invertebrates, in an attractive way for visitors and optimal living conditions for them. The goal? Show their incredible biodiversity and reveal their ecological importance. The ark shows the respect and commitment of the Park and Castle of Thoiry in sustainable development.
Information: www.thoiry.net / 01 34 87 53 76.