Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
Description
Chateau Bonrepos-Riquet
Chateau Bonrepos-Riquet

Volunteering at Chateau Bonrepos-Riquet

Chateau Bonrepos Riquet in the Haute Garonne in South West France has an illustriouspast and a remarkable present. In the 17 century its owner, Pierre-PaulRiquet, used the grounds of the chateau as a testing bed to prove the viabilityof one of France’s most incredible constructions, the Canal du Midi. This 360km network of navigable waterways links the Mediterranean with the Atlantic asit passes over a high point at Seuil de Naurouze, 48 metres above the level ofthe River Garonne. Begun in 1666, it was finished just a few months after itsinventor’s death in 1681. Described by the UNESCO world heritage body as “oneof the greatest engineering achievements of the modern age”, the Canal du Midiwas second only to Versailles in scale as a construction project in France atthe time.

Today it isowned by the commune of Bonrepos-Riquet who stepped in to buy the listedchateau in 2007 determined to restore it to its former glory. For the small communeof 260 people, the way to bring the chateau back to life was to enlist the helpof some volunteers. Since 2008 , a dedicated group of around 100 have beenworking one Saturday every month. One of the most remarkable is Dudley Collard,81, and a theoretical aerodynamicist who has lived and worked in France since 1962and was an important member of the Concorde team from 1962 -1978. Dudleyvisited the chateau in 2010 during a Journeedu Patrimoine , one of the open days held in France at many listedbuildings. He had an interest in canals having grown up near the Grand UnionCanal. Fascinated by the remains of thehydraulic works setting out the principles of the civil engineering project, hehas become an enthusiastic member of the ‘ Benevoles ’,helping to clear the bassin and builddrainage ditches around “ La MachineHydraulique ”. Dudley and his wife, Ann, even dressed up in period costumefor one of the fund raising days at the chateau. Dudley also donated some ofhis drawings of the chateau to help money raising efforts for maintenance andimprovement.

“What is amazing is that the group is made upof people from all walks of life, and they all work so hard” comments Dudley.He also mentions that one of the delights after a morning’s hard labour, is tosit down to an al fresco communal lunch, in full sunshine on the cool days, orin the shadow of the chateau on the hot days.

“It is fantastic that such a small commune has been so ambitious and devoted andunderstanding of the uniqueness of their heritage.” concludes Dudley.







/image/2/1/1/5/1/2115109/00732786.png/image/2/1/1/5/1/2115109/00732792.png/image/2/1/1/5/1/2115109/00732789.png



$SIGNUP$
$VALIDATION$
Working... Please wait