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Entertainment The Aqueduct of Maintenon, Caprice of Louis XIV which has become a magnificent ruin

12:10  31 july  2022
12:10  31 july  2022 Source:   ouest-france.fr

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L’aqueduc de Maintenon et le château, vu depuis le golf. © Nicolas Mountard The Aqueduct de Maintenon and the castle, seen from the Golf.

Fourth episode of our series on the Route des Ruines de France, welcome to the Aqueduct de Maintenon. This building rises at the end of the Center-Val de Loire region, a stone's throw from Île-de-France. This aqueduct, a symbol of the excess of the Sun King, has never been finished. Explanations.

and the balafre has become flirtatious! This could be the moral of the history of the Aqueduct de Maintenon which today gives an undeniable charm to the castle of the same name in Eure-et-Loir. Back in 1682. Sixty kilometers away, Louis XIV definitively fixes the courtyard in Versailles. Its magnificent gardens are fitted with complex water games, such as fountains, waterfalls or pools. Except that for all this, you need ... water. And Versailles lacks singularly.

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L’aqueduc de Maintenon, caprice devenu ruine magnifique. © Photo: Nicolas Montard / Ouest-France The Aqueduct de Maintenon, Caprice who has become a magnificent ruin.

How to do it? Impossible to divert the Loire, an idea mentioned a few years before. Eure is a simpler challenge. We decide to capture it in Pontgouin, near Chartres ... and to transport it by digging a channel, embellished with aqueduct bridges with 700 arches for 17 kilometers. The whole reaches 80 km.

L’édifice est aujourd’hui gagné par la végétation. © Photo: Nicolas Montard / Ouest-France The building is now won by vegetation.

at the helm of this work that Louis XIV wants "worthy of the grandeur of the Romans" , the famous Vauban of the Citadelles. For his only civil realization, the citadel specialist somewhat revives the project down, based in particular on land of land 20 meters high, allowing to transport water. What to lighten the bill.

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Suppllant the Gard

bridge but an aqueduct remains very necessary in Maintenon, and the depression of the Eure valley. And what aqueduct! Depending on the plans, it must supplant the Gard bridge in terms of height (twice higher) and length (four times longer). The building must be 1.3 kilometers for 73 meters high over three floors. Gigantic!

The work of this pharaonic building began in 1685. The Eure, like its two main tributaries, is developed to make them navigable and unload the tons of materials on the site, with a boat specially created for the occasion by the arsenals of Rouen: This 15 by 3 meter barge could transport five tonnes.

Squirrel cages (a wheel in which a man worked to train ropes and pulleys), scaffolding, lime ovens permanently heating, the place is a large project where 17 to 30,000 men come across! The marsh fever, called Paludean, will kill 6,000. But nothing is too beautiful or too strong for the king ... and Versailles.

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except war. In 1694, the site was definitely interrupted. Since 1688, credits have been assigned to the fight against the Augsburg League (an alliance of European countries against France). After a considerable expenditure of nine million pounds, the aqueduct remains as it is. There were about 30 kilometers of work to connect the Eure to Versailles.

Historic monument

left to ruin, boned by part of its stones by the locals, a small part of its 955 meters is discovered from the Park of the Château de Maintenon (entrance 3 € for the gardens, 8.50 € with the castle) or by going to type the ball in the neighboring golf course (with views of the aqueduct and the castle in the background). Almost at his feet, we realize his gigantism (25 meters under the vault) when the project was to be three times higher!

The vegetation, which has won the stones, now gives it this pace of romantic ruin which is reflected in the waters of the canal, a spectacle represented several times by the painters, like François-Demé Ricois in the nineteenth century. The unfinished aqueduct (for which as a compensation, Mme de Maintenon received the title of Marquise) definitively became a charm asset: it was even classified as a historic monument in 1875, sixty-dix years before the castle!

En 1688, il restait environ 30 kilomètres de travaux pour connecter l’Eure à Versailles. © Photo: Nicolas Montard / Ouest-France In 1688, there were about 30 kilometers of work to connect the Eure to Versailles.

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