The moats are getting a makeover

Les douves se refont une beauté

Bellegarde is known for its famous Rose Fair, and recognized as the first rose village in France. The town can also be proud to have a very beautiful heritage site: the estate of the castle, whose central piece is the dungeon, which shines on its annexes.

The municipality strives to preserve this building. It is in this sense that the latter has embarked on a major project on the scale of its territory, namely the restoration of the moat of the castle, because this heritage has suffered from the pangs of time and weather vagaries.

“The stones fell apart and fell”

Let’s go back to the centerpiece of the estate: the dungeon which was originally made of wood and was erected in stone by the L’Hospital family, relatives of King Charles V. This dungeon is surrounded by ditches, then by a moat created thanks to work carried out by the Duc d’Antin (Louis Antoine de Pardaillan de Gondrin), to whom we owe the current estate of the château, and natural son of Madame de Montespan (one of Louis XIV).

This restoration project is not new. We have to go back to 2007, when part of the moat wall collapsed. “The stones came unhooked and fell,” says Lionel Thierry, the works assistant. The company commissioned for this restoration is redoing the moats as they were designed in the 18th century. e century. The director of services, Véronique Bracquemond, specifies that the moat walls have no foundation, which allows water to circulate.

During one of the previous restorations, the moats were partly cemented. The water no longer circulated and stagnated, resulting in erosion of the wall. The first stage of the project consisted of emptying and drying the moats (they are fed by rainwater).

The operation lasted almost a year, while leaving a water margin of 50 cm, because the soil is clayey (to reduce the phenomenon of shrinkage-swelling). “We had to cure ( remove sludge ), explains the director of services, and create a stone path, because the bottom of the moat is not stable due to its clay soil so that restoration, masonry and cut stone companies can work and stabilize their scaffolding. Once the work has been completed, the stone path is removed and moved to continue the work. It is necessary to clear before for the installation of the construction site and after so that the water regains its rights. »

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An important site, because the workers dismantle the stones and bricks. They reworked in the workshop and handed over everything that was possible to keep. Materials that could not be returned were rebuilt identically. “There are thousands of stones and bricks transported by semi-trailers”, notes the deputy.

“We need help”

The project was divided into four phases. The first dealt with the most urgent part to be dealt with. It was completed in 2021. The second phase is in progress and extends from the rose garden to the bridge. The duration of the project is estimated at four years, i.e. completion in 2024 or 2025. “For the restoration of the moats, we are at more than two million euros excluding taxes, not counting the hazards of the site”, reports Véronique Bracquemond. A municipality like ours cannot finance this. Help is needed. »

This is why the municipality has launched a subscription to the Heritage Foundation to enable the safeguarding of a site listed in the additional inventory of historical monuments. The municipality became the owner of the estate from 1847, when it bought the buildings that make up the castle estate. Among the financiers, the regional directorate of cultural affairs (Drac) contributes 40%, the Department 40%, the City of Bellegarde 19.10% and the Heritage Foundation 0.90%.


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