It is a repair of history. Nearly 350 years after the major project led by André Le Nôtre in the park of the Château de Saint-Germain, the large basin has finally (re)found its place. Designed to embellish the gardens of a certain Louis XIV, this imposing aquatic element from which rose a large jet of water had for main vocation to complete the symmetry of the large parterre. This was before the Sun King set his sights on a small hunting lodge in Versailles. And that he does not abandon a home that he had never really carried in his heart.
Over the decades, this large decorative ensemble had gradually disappeared from the landscape, the coup de grace having been the arrival of the railway in the nineteenth century and the construction of the station opposite the castle. Funny thumbing of the nose of history, it is also a train – or rather a tram – that is at the origin of its resurrection. The project to reconstitute the large basin was indeed born with the creation of the terminus of the 13 Express, under the large parterre.
A technical challenge
In 2020, the City of Saint-Germain and the Heritage Foundation launched a subscription to finance this structure, only a few tens of centimeters above the connecting corridor leading to the RER station. A fountain room was first built during the work of the tram, in order to allow the impoundment of the future basin.
In January 2022, it was the Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot who came to lay the first stone of a project that was supposed to last a few months. It ultimately took a little longer to complete the basin due to several technical challenges, as it involved spanning the existing underground structures. On arrival, the aquatic element respects in all respects the dimensions of Le Nôtre's plans: "25 toises or about 50 m in diameter," says the town hall.
The cost of this project amounts to 6.69 million euros. A sum financed by the State, the Île-de-France Region, the Department, the City, the Heritage Foundation, Suez and several individual donors.