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History of a construction site

Six years of digs and six years of restauration work
 

The Conseil Général d’Indre-et-Loire, owner of the fortress as well as nine other sites, took on an important project designed to showcase the Royal Fortress of Chinon and its exceptional architectural heritage.
The fortress was built in a remarkable area, standing on a defended spur overlooking the Vienne River and guarding the borders of Anjou and Poitou. Its remarkable fortifications are over 500 metres long and made up of three structures separated by moats: Fort Saint Georges to the east, Fort Coudray to the west and the Château du Milieu containing the royal living quarters in the centre.
The region’s goal is to protect and highlight this exceptional piece of heritage and also to increase the number of visitors to 200,000 per year.

Six years of digs and six years of restauration work

Fort Coudray
- 150 metres of ramparts restored,
- the Coudray keep restored, with its original entry stairway,
- the royal lodgings restored, giving them back the appearance of a 15th-century Touraine lodge,
- construction of a new building to house the reception area, shop, ticket office and exhibition room,
- an ephemeral garden,
- a new scenographic project focusing on the great names that have marked the fortress’s history, from the Plantagenets to Joan of Arc,
- commitment to 21st-century museography and scenography.


Before restoration


After restoration

The restructuring programme and major restoration stages in brief

 
Workings
  Restauration

Works schedule

- 2003: start-up of archaeological digs over almost 4000 m2. The whole of Fort Saint-Georges was excavated, bringing to light a palace built circa 1160 by King Henry II Plantagenet, along with a number of towers and a chapel.
- 2005 - 2007: restoration of Fort Saint-Georges’ southern ramparts
- 2006 - 2008: restoration of the Château du Milieu’s eastern ramparts
- 2007 - 2008: restoration of the Coudray keep
With a view to understanding the castle and its defensive system as a whole, the aim was to highlight the Coudray keep’s slender lines and defensive system.
- 2007-2009: restoration of the royal lodgings
The underlying principle of the restoration work was to refashion the lodgings’ appearance in order to give them the air of a 15th-century Touraine lodge without, however, striving to produce an exact replica of the original. The gables were completed on the two main parts of the building, the “grands combles” and the “petits combles”, in order to reconstitute the original pitches of the slate roofing and restore the medieval lines of the royal lodgings’ roofs, with their recesses and variety of form – gabled, hipped and pepperpot – further enlivened by dormer windows, chimney stacks and finials.
- 2009 - 2010: museography and scenography for the exterior and the royal lodgings
- 2009 - 2010: construction of the new building at the Saint-Georges fort

Programme participants

Contracting owner
Indre-et-Loire General Council, Tours
Delegated contractor for the new building and scenography
SET (Société d’Equipement de la Touraine), Tours
Fort Coudray project manager (Château du Milieu and Fort Saint-Georges southern ramparts)
Arnaud de Saint-Jouan, Chief Architect of Historical Monuments, Tours
Project manager (Fort Saint-Georges and ticket office)
Hervé Beaudouin and Benoît Engel, architects, Niort
Team representative: Hervé Beaudouin
Project management, museography/scenography
Frédéric Casanova and Michel Koukia / UBISCENE

Overall budget: 17 million euros

Indre-et-Loire General Council
ERDF [European Regional Development Fund]
Centre Region
DRAC [Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs] Centre for listed parts

Région Centre Union Européenne
 



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