ARCHIVE 1999-2014

The purpose of this archive is to document chronologically and serve as a permanent record events pertaining to the Désert de Retz and this website. The archive preserves all the posts that appeared on the News page of the Racine de Monville Home Page starting in June 1999. Evidently, many of the links on this page will have changed or become inactive, but at least I have documented their existence for posterity.

Ronald W. Kenyon
Webmaster and Curator

Return to Racine de Monville Home Page News Log


November 12, 2014. The Désert de Retz is on the list of 10 Places in France Every Woman Should Go, in an article published on the Vogue Daily weblog, edited by Samantha Adler. The list is an extract from the book by Marcia deSanctis entitled 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go, which hit the New York Times Travel Best Seller list for November, 2014.

September 20-21, 2014. On the occasion of the 2014 European Heritage Days, the Désert de Retz was open to the public. Press coverage included illustrated six-page articles by Sophie Giagoni in the September 2014 issue of Art et Décoration and by Véronique Dumas in the September-October number of Historia Spécial as well as a two-page item by Cecile Jaurès in the Paris daily La Croix of September 19, 2014.

August 22, 2014. The counter from FlagCounter.com was added to the Racine de Monville Home Page on April 6, 2011. In the 1,234 days up to August 22, 2014, this site had been visited 12,807 times by 9,094 internauts from 101 countries. The first visitor to be recorded was from Afghanistan, and the most recent from Albania!

August 14, 2014. The French daily newspaper, Le Parisien, published an article by Sébastien Birden entitled Les mystérieuses fabriques du Désert de Retz à Chambourcy. The article is accompanied by a photograph of Monsieur de Monville's Column House and practical information for visitors.

April 24, 2014. A book from Monsieur de Monville’s extensive library was sold at auction at Sotheby’s Paris. L’Isle de France, ou la nouvelle colonie de Vénus, by Abbé Marchadier (1709-1777), published in 1753, is bound with Les Filles femmes et les femmes filles, ou le Monde changé, conte qui n'en est pas un by Simien [pseudonym of Louis de Boissy], published in 1751. Octavo, red morocco leather, gold-tipped pages, supralibros “Racine Demonville” stamped in gold on the front cover. Sold for €450. Louis de Boissy (1694-1758) was a satirical poet, a playwright, a newspaper editor and a member of the Académie Française. The two libertine texts were bound together because, on the last page of L'Isle de France, the author states that it is, "...la second partie des Filles-femmes ou Femmes-filles."[Posted on December 27, 2016.]


December 14, 2013. Below is a table showing the total number of visitors to the Désert de Retz each year since its official reopening in 2009, as compiled by Le Désert de Retz-Jardin des Lumières.

Year Visitors
2013 5,029
2012 4,932
2011 5,089
2010 4,041
2009 2,778

December 2, 2013. French photographer Philippe Grunchec has published an album of photographs of the Désert de Retz taken with large-format view cameras producing 4x5-inch and 8x10-inch prints. Most of the original photographs were printed on baryta paper or as platinotypes, a process dating from 1873. The book can be purchased on Amazon.fr.


October 5, 2013. Ronald W. Kenyon, webmaster and curator of the Racine de Monville Home Page, delivered a lecture in French entitled "Nouvelles Découvertes Insolites sur Monsieur de Monville" in Chambourcy. View, print or download the lecture poster.

September 18, 2013. The Désert de Retz was open to the public on September 14 and 15 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM as part of the annual European Heritage Days [Journées européenes du patrimoine] and welcomed a total of 1,250 visitors. View, print or download the color poster.

June 6, 2013. Dr. Pierre Morange, Mayor of Chambourcy and Deputy of Yvelines, hosted the official inauguration of three restored structures at the Désert de Retz--Monsieur de Monville's Column House, the Temple of Pan and the Foret de Marly Emtrance--in the presence of Alain Schmitz, President of the General Council of Yvelines and Frédéric Mitterrand, former Minister of Culture and Communication. View a ten-minute video in French in which Dr. Morange is interviewed by journalist Patrice Carmouze.

March 29, 2013. The municipality of Chambourcy acquired a leather portfolio belonging to François Racine de Monville in an auction at Drouot. The rectanglar portfolio (24.5 cm by 33 cm) is in gilded red morocco and bears two coats of arms, neither of which is that of Monville. The front bears the inscription "M. Racine de Monville." This portfolio is one of the few personal items belonging to Monsieur de Monville that have survived over the years.

Monsieur de Monville's Portfolio
Morocco leather portfolio belonging to François Racine de Monville. Source: Binoche et Giquello


November 27, 2012. A blog, twicemodern~All Aspects of Design 1900-2000, reproduced an article by architect, decorator and horticulturist Jean-Charles Moreux French flag [1889-1956], entitled "Le Désert de M. de Monville," originally published in L'Amour de L'Art, Number 3, in April 1938, with monochrome illustrations of the Désert de Retz by photographer and historian Raymond Lécuyer French flag [1879-1950]. Lecuyer was the author of a 451-page volume on the history of photography published in 1945 that included three-dimensional photographs and was sold with a pair of bicolored glasses to view them.

The article in French describes the history of Monsieur de Monville and the Désert de Retz, and the photographs depict a number of the structures as they appeared in 1938. The article is accompanied by a text in English discussing Jean-Charles Moreux.

October 23, 2012. The City Council and former elected officials of the town of Chambourcy announced with regret the death of Jean-Louis Saury on Monday, October 15, 2012, at the age of 79 years.

After working for 33 years for a mulitnational corporation, Jean-Louis Saury served 10 years, first as Associate Mayor, then as Primary Associate Mayor of Chambourcy. After Chambourcy acquired full ownership of the Désert de Retz, Jean-Louis Saury founded and was elected president of a non-profit association, Le Désert de Retz Jardin des Lumières, dedicated to conducting guided tours of the park, organizing cultural events and marketing Désert de Retz merchandise.

Jean-Louis Saury was the author of an illustrated guide, Le Désert de Retz Jardin des Lumières, with a chapter on the history of the Desert de Retz, descriptions of the various follies, a discussion of Monsieur de Monville and future plans for the garden. Jean-Louis Saury's final project was a work describing the remarkable trees in the grounds of the Desert de Retz, scheduled for publication in 2013. Obituiary in French released by the town of Chambourcy.

October 20, 2012. Dominique Césari, author of Les Jardins des Lumières en Ile-de-France, deliverd a lecture in French on the subject "Les Jardins Anglo-chinois et le Désert de Retz" in the Salle Hubert Yencesse, 35, Rue de Gramont, in Chambourcy. The lecture was sponsored by Le Désert de Retz-Jardin des Lumières.

September 29, 2012. A two-page article entitled "La commune a sorti son désert de la solitude des Lumières" illustrated with four color photographs of the Désert de Retz [the Temple of Pan, the Pyramid Icehouse, the Tartar Tent and the Column House, appeared on pages 134-135 of the October 2012 issue of the French magazine Geo.

September 29, 2012. An 16-page spread of fall fashions entitled "Campagne Anglaise," by Mako Yamazaki, photographed on location at the Désert de Retz by Michael Woolley, appeared in the October 2012, issue of the French magazine Marie-Claire.

September 17, 2012. As part of the annual European Heritage Days, the Désert de Retz was open to the public on September 15 and 16, 2012. One thousand five hundred forty-four adults--and many children--took the occasion to visit Monsieur de Monville's garden. Members of a non-profit organization, Le Désert de Retz: Jardin des Lumières, were on hand throughout both days. Some served as docents to conduct visitors on guided tours of the garden. Others sold refreshemnts and Désert de Retz merchandise including post cards, books, a new, illustrated Désert de Retz calendar for 2013-14 and Le Miel de Retz, the product of beehives located on the grounds of the garden.

View photographs of ladies of Chambourcy in 18th-century costume at the Désert de Retz on September 16, 2012.

June 10, 2012. Kevin Risk, Assistant Professor of Landsdcape Architecture at Louisiana State University has written an interesting article entitled Garden in the Bayou or Bayou in the Garden: Design Provenance and Environmental Adaptation at Le Petit Versailles, about the picturesque garden built in St. James Paris, Louisiana, between 1842 and 1853 by a plantation owner named Valcour Aimé, né François-Gabriel Aimé. Valcour Aimé, who lived from 1798 to 1867, was known as the "Louis the XIV of Louisiana" and was reputedly the wealthiest man in the American South.

According to Professor Risk, the garden was a "retarataire adaptation" of French gardens such as Bagatelle, Parc Monceau and the Desert de Retz, "a rare, if not unique example of the style in the United States, and a unique example in the plantation South.

Plantation Home Information describes Le Petit Versailles as the most refined and sophisticated of all the Louisiana plantations. "[It was]distinguished by elaborate gardens that seemed as well suited to the king's court in France as to a plantation on the Mississippi River. The house was a typical double-galleried building with columns, but had wings on each end that enclosed a rear courtyard. Its gardens were extensive and its hothouses filled with plants, fruits, vegetables and flowers from around the world, all grown for consumption by Aime, his family and their guests. The grounds were managed by gardeners hired away from Versailles. An informal zoo included kangaroos. One passage from "Social Life in Old New Orleans" noted a hill covered entirely in violets. Research by historian Buddy Stall indicates that after future French king Louis Philippe was lavishly entertained by Aime, the two men tossed into the river the gold plates on which they had dined."

Unfortunately, Le Petit Versailles was destrohyed by fire in 1920, and and today the only vestige of Aimé's estate is a historical marker at the side of the road. Photograph of the ruins of Le Petit Versailes taken on April 26, 2008. Sic transit gloria mundi...

April 16, 2012. The Count and Countess Neil Collection, entitled "Une Passion Partagée," was auctioned at Christie's Paris, taking in €2,078,600, with 87% percent of lots finding a buyer. Among the items were two aquarelles from the French School of the 18th century representing views of the Désert de Retz.

The municipality of Chamboucy decided to acquire these works, and Dr. Pierre Morange, Mayor of Chambourcy, attended the auction in person to bid on each lot. The first lot was a circular view of the Chinese House and the Temple of Pan in aquarelle and pierre noire, 5.9 cm in diameter, acquired for €800. The second lot, a view of the Column House in pierre noire, pen and grey ink and aquarelle on paper, 6 cm in diameter, was acquired for €450.

The Chinese House and Temple of Pan The Column House

March 31, 2012. An article in Swedish about the Désert de Retz by Lena Höjenberg entitled "Här hittade Gustav III inspiration till Haga," accompanied by numerous color photographs by Ingalill Snitt, appeared in issue number 3.12 of the Swedish magazine Gods & Gårdar.

Koppartälten, Ekotemplet, Kinapaviljongen. Förebilderna för Hagaparkens juveler finns i Desert de Retz, utanför franska Chambourcy. Gustav III kom hit på besök 1784 och blev överförtjust. Numera kan man boka en tur bland de fascinerande och delvis raserade byggnaderna. Swedish flag


November 28, 2011. The Centre de Documentation de la Musique Contemporaine [CDMC] will host its third annual encounter on the theme of "Musical Creation and Gardens " on Saturday, December 10, 2011, at the Pavillon du Lac in the Parc de Bercy. The series of lectures will start at 9:30 AM and the last is scheduled for 5:15 PM. A highlight of the encounter will be a talk in French by Dominique Césari at 10:15 on the Anglo-Chinese gardens of the late 18th century. Dominique Césari is the author of Les jardins des Lumières en Ile-de-France. Full program and reservation information in English.

November 24, 2011. Jane Roberts Fine Arts in Paris is currently showing works by French photographer Philippe Grunchec, including monochrome views of the Désert de Retz. The gallery is located on the fourth floor at 65, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris, and is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 12:30 and from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The exposition runs through December 23, 2011.

October 14, 2011. A retrospective exposition of the works of surrealist artist Claude Chanot was held from September 22 through October 8, 2011, in the Town Hall of Levallois, a suburb of Paris. The exposition included 30 works inspired by the Désert de Retz and Monsieur de Monville. View twelve works by Claude Chanot. You'll have to click on "Decor" at the botton left to see the works.

Lire Le désert de Retz et Chanot par Olivier Choppin de Janvry. Flag_fr.gif

Visit Claude Chanot's bilingual website and blog to view photographs of the retrospective in Levallois along with texts by Chanot and reviews of the exposition from the French media.

September 25, 2011. Concert des Lumières at the Désert de Retz.

Concert des Lumieres
Back row, left to right: Patricia Samuel, Serge Louet, Huguette Géliot, Didier Magne. Foreground: Jean-Louis Saury, President, Le Désert de Retz-Jardin des Lumières

A concert of Baroque music was held at the Désert de Retz highlighting compositions that Monsieur de Monville might have played or heard. The music was interpreted by Hugette Géliot, harp; Patricia Samuel, soprano; Serge Louet, flautist and Didier Magne, guitarist and leader.

The program included compositions by Mozart; Christophe-Wilibald Gluck, Monville's friend and his favorite composer; Vicente Martin y Soler; Mauro Giulini; Fernando Sor; Francesco Molino and Didier Magne. A composition by Francois Racine de Monville himself, a chamber cantata entitled Le Retour de Chloé, arranged by Didier Magne and featuring the ensemble, concluded the concert.

This concert was most likely the first time baroque music had been performed at the Désert de Retz in over 220 years. Color poster.

September 21, 2011. As part of the annual European Heritage Days, the Désert de Retz was open to the public on September 17 and 18, 2011. An estimated 1,000 persons--including 839 adults purchasing entry tickets--took the occasion to visit Monsieur de Monville's garden. [Children were admitted free.] Members of the non-profit organization, Le Désert de Retz: Jardin des Lumières, were on hand throughout both days. Some served as docents to conduct visitors on hour-long guided tours of the garden. Others enrolled new members and sold refreshemnts and Désert de Retz merchandise including post cards, books and Le Miel de Retz, the product of four beehives located on the grounds of the garden.

September 1, 2011. The Racine de Monville Home Page donates €100.00 to the Régie du Désert de Retz as its contibution to the preservation and restoration of the Désert de Retz. This donation represents the commissions recived on the sale of books sold through Monsieur de Monville's aStore, hosted by Amazon.com. All future commissions will also be donated to the Régie du Désert de Retz. You can help restore the Désert de Retz by purchasing Amazon.com merchandise on Monsieur de Monville's aStore.

July 30, 2011. A new entry on blog called Form is Void featured five Michael Kenna monochrome photos of the Desert de Retz and a short text containing hyperlinks to the Racine de Monville Home Page, the Wikipedia entry about the Desert de Retz and the essay about the Desert de Retz on Alexander Trevi's blog, Pruned.

July 23, 2011. The Paris daily Le Parisien published an article by Yves Fossey, Le désert de Retz livre ses secrets, illustrated with a photograph of a group of visitors accompanied by their guide and a sidebar with contact information and dates of forthcoming tours conducted by the tourist offices of Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Poissy. Flag_fr.gif

June 26, 2011. On June 24 and 25, 2011, a Sound and Light spectacle, L'Intemporel au Désert de Retz, sponsored by the town of Chambourcy and open to the public, took place on the grounds of the Desert de Retz. The program included 18th century music sung and performed on the harp, harpsichord and clarinet, dancing and an evocation of the Desert de Retz by Monsieur de Monville, portrayed by François Cottet. Additional details.

May 22, 2011. Residents of the town of Chambourcy were invited to visit the Desert de Retz during the annual Open Door event. Two hundred eighty Camboriciens and Camboriciennes took advantage of the beautiful spring weather to visit the garden.

May 6, 2011. Introducing Monsieur de Monville’s aStore. Today is the official launch date of the new Racine de Monville Home Page online store. It replaces Monsieur de Monville’s Boookstore.

Now you can shop for books about the Desert de Retz in English and French and browse and buy any of the hundreds of thousands of books, CD’s, DVD’s or other merchandise sold by Amazon.com.

As a member of Amazon Associates, the Racine de Monville Home Page will receive a small commission from each sale made through Monsieur de Monville’s aStore. All these commissions are deposited into a fund for the restoration and preservation of the Desert de Retz.

Don’t wait to order your next book from Monsieur de Monville’s aStore.

For anyone who’s nostalgic about Monsieur de Monville’s Bookstore, you can still access [and order Amazon.com merchandise from] the archived page.

April 19, 2011. French blogger Alexia Guggémos, Curator of the the virtual Musée du Sourire [Museum of Smiles], posted an amusing entry in her French-language blog, Deliredel'Art recounting her unsuccessful attempt to visit the Desert de Retz, followed by an equally unsuccessful attempt to visit the house formerly occupied by the painter André Derain, also located in Chambourcy. Désert de Retz : comment j'ai trouvé portes closes. Flag_fr.gif

February 20, 2011. Toronto blogger Yesha posted some monochrome photographs and Will Viney's November 16, 2009, article about the Desert de Retz [without any attribution to Mr. Viney as the author] as "Idea Log 20022011" on her blog GOVERNMENTGIRL1943LP.

I think the post should be renamed "Plagiarized Idea Log 20022011."

February 19, 2011. Excerpt from: The Villager, Volume 80, Number 39 | February 24 - March 2, 2011 "Galleries offer reasons to come in from cold," by Stephanie Buhmann. Maccarone Inc.: “Corey McCorkle” Exploring how landscape is articulated and ritualized, McCorkle works in installations, sculpture, photography and film. One focus will be the Desert de Retz, an immense 18th century garden devised by the French aristocrat Francois Racine de Monville. McCorkle’s featured work Zoetrope (2010) — a five-channel projection of still and tracking shots of these grounds — transforms the now-derelict structures into eerie protagonists. Feb. 19–Mar. 19 (630 Greenwich St. and Morton St.)

For info, 212-431-4977 or Maccarone.

February 9, 2011. "Photos Détournées: Collages de Jacques Prévert" is the title of a new exposition at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in the Marais district of Paris. Featured in the exposition is Prévert's famous collage of the Désert de Retz, combining fragments of illustrations and engravings set against a monochrome photograph by Izis. Article about the show by Sarah Muroz. Maison Européenne de la Photographie, 5/7, rue de Fourcy, 75004, Paris. The show runs until April 10, 2011.

January 5, 2011. Le Désert de Retz, locura romántica en Chambourcy, an article in Spanish about the Desert de Retz, ilustrated with my infrared color photograph of the Temple of Pan, was published on the Spanish blog, Sobre Francia.


December 31, 2010. According to statistics compiled by the Chambourcy municipal government and published in the December 2010 issue of Chambourcy Actualité,more than 7,000 persons visited the Desert de Retz in the twelve months following its official reopening in June 2009.

December 30, 2010. An entry was posted in Morfes,"A photo blog focused on the unique and bizarre things of the world" entitled The Broken Column House. The post includes photographs, text and a link to this website.

October 3, 2010. The non-profit associations Désert de Retz: Jardin des Lumières and A.R.B.R.E.S jointly sponsored a ceremony at the Désert de Retz to dedicate a plaque identifying the garden’s 450-year old layered linden tree [tilleul marcoté in French] as an “Arbre Remarquable de France.” Mayor Pierre Morange accepted the honor on behalf of the town of Chambourcy.

The Desert de Retz linden tree is a rare example of layering. Natural layering typically occurs when a branch touches the ground, whereupon it produces adventitious roots which, in turn, produce new trees.

September 18, 2010.
European Heritage Days Journées Européenes du Patrimoine As part of the annual European Heritage Days, the Désert de Retz was open to the public on Saturday, September 18, 2010. An estimated 1,200 persons took the occasion to visit Monsieur de Monville's garden. Members of the non-profit organization, Le Désert de Retz: Jardin des Lumières, were on hand throughout the day to answer visitors' questions and orient them to the points of interest in the garden.

Once a year, citizens in 50 countries celebrate Europe’s cultural heritage. This initiative of the European Heritage Days, launched by the Council of Europe in 1991, has been since 1999 a joint action of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, putting new cultural assets on view and opening up historical buildings normally closed to the public.

September 15, 2010.
>Les Tresors Cachés des Yvelines A photograph of Monsieur de Monville's Column House was featured on the front cover of the Yvelines edition of the French news magazine L'Express for the week of September 15-21, 2010. A full-page article about the Désert de Retz was included in the magazine's special European Heritage Days supplement.

July 19, 2010. Atlas Obscura, "A Compendium of the World's Wonders, Curiosities and Esoterica," recently added a page devoted to the Désert de Retz in its Eccentric Homes category, with text in English and several photographs.

June 5, 2010. "Déesses et Lumières au Désert de Retz" is the title of an outdoor spectacle held at the Désert de Retz in Chambourcy. The event featured the Compagnie Tour de Babel, and included dance, instrumental music and song. This is the first open-air, artistic performance held at the Desert de Retz since the days of Monsieur de Monville, more than 200 years ago.

April 15, 2010. The eight members of the Board of Directors of Le Désert de Retz Jardin des Lumières met in the Column House at the Desert de Retz to discuss the objectives of the association for the coming year. Topics included expositions, visits and communications. Ronald Kenyon, Webmaster of the Racine de Monville Home Page, is honored to be the only non-Camboricien member of the Board. The goals of the association are to schedule and conduct visits to the Desert, participate in restoration efforts and commercialize products related to the Desert de Retz.

March 11, 2010. Prisoners of the Sun is the second in the “Erudition Concrète” series of exhibitions proposed by Guillaume Desanges at the Le Plateau, exploring the links between art and knowledge in contemporary practice. Through a special production by the American artist, Corey McCorkle, Prisoners of the Sun explores the sensory, utopian, and political reach of architecture.

Having trained as an architect, McCorkle develops his work by linking modernism, functionalism and ornamentation with a particular interest for deserted structures, evoking traces of a failed utopia and the temporal interference that certain monuments suggest.

The focus of Corey McCorkle’s project is the Désert de Retz in the town of Chambourcy. This unique and unlikely place has provided inspiration for a number of artistic creations (by Colette, Jacques Prévert, Abel Gance, the Surrealists). Here the artist has developed a totally new work integrating film and sculpture, to show for the first time at the Plateau.

Dates of the exposition: March 11-May 9, 2010

More information in English and French from ArtSlant. Review in English, An Enlightened Gothic Mix-Up at Le Plateau.

February 25, 2010. Les Péripéties judiciaires du Désert de Retz continuent : les anciens propriétaires privés demandent la nullité de la vente This extensive article in French, published by Vieilles Maisons Françaises, describes in detail the complicated and contentious history of the transfer of the Désert de Retz from its co-owners, Jean-Marc Heftler-Louiche and Olivier Choppin de Janvry, to the town of Chambourcy. Flag_fr.gif

February 25, 2010. An article by Alain Guyot in the French daily Ouest France, Le Desert de Retz est un jardin extraordinaire, discusses the history and reopening of the Desert de Retz. The article repeats the error that originally appeared in the Libération Magazine article of January 23, 2010, implying that the Desert de Retz was "rescued" deux ex machina in a surprise visit by then-President François Mitterrand. President Mitterrand's visit, in fact, lent support to the two co-owners in thier litigation against the adjacent golf course. Flag_fr.gif

February 22, 2010. In a long article in French entitled Le golf, le maire et le Désert de Retz, and published in La Tribune de l'Art, Didier Rykner details the convoluted recent history of the Desert de Retz. Rykner places particular emphasis on the legal wrangling that has extended over the last several decades, culminating with a new court case brought by the two previous co-owners. Illustrated with numerous photographs and footnotes. Flag_fr.gif

February 22, 2010. Dans un article paru le 22 fevrier au Monde, Imbroglio sans fin pour un site magique, le Désert de Retz, Michel Guerrin ecrit, "Au Tribunal de Grande Instance de Versailles, les anciens propriétaires demandent la nullité de la vente de leur bien à un golf." Voir un autre article paru le même jour, La belle opération de communication du maire. Flag_fr.gif

February 22, 2010. Photographer Emmanuelle Gabory published a series of color and monochrome photographs of the Desert de Retz on her blog, Lieu(x), Temps et Interstice(s).

January 23, 2010. Vincent Noce has written a two-page article in French about the Desert de Retz entitled Le Réveil du Bois Dormant in Libération Magazine for the weekend of January 23-24, 2010. The article,accompanied by two photographs by Philippe Grunchec, reviews the history and reopening of the garden and discusses the life of Monsieur de Monville. The author mentions Monville's project to install a system of voice tubes--the acoustic telegraph--to communicate with his employees in nearby St.-Nom-la-Bretèche [See the entry for the year 1783 in the Chronology.]

The article incorrectly implies that the Desert de Retz was "rescued" by then-President François Mitterrand who "landed in a helicopter at the Desert de Retz in 1990 on the spur of the moment." In fact, President Mitterrand visited the Desert de Retz on July 20, 1990, upon the personal invitation of the two co-owners, Olivier Choppin de Janvry and Jean-Marc Heftler-Louiche, who had undertaken an extensive and costly restoration of the Desert de Retz starting in 1986. Flag_fr.gif

January 1, 2010. Read a thoughtful essay by Will Viney, The Romantic Ruin, from the Winter 2009 issue of Precipitate. The first part discusses the interest in ruins from a historical perspective, and the second part focuses specifically on the Desert de Retz. This is the longer version of the article referenced below.


November 16, 2009. Will Viney published an article in English about the Desert de Retz on his blog, Waste Effects. A longer version of this text was presented in June to the Romantic Realignments series, Oxford.

October 24, 2009. Elizabeth Legros Chapuis published an article about the Desert de Retz entitled "Folie au Désert," accompanied by photographs and a link to the Racine de Monville Home Page in her blog, Sédiments. Flag_fr.gif

October 17, 2009. A sumptuous four-volume folio edition of Fables choisies mies en vers by Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695) from Monsieur de Monville's library was sold at auction for €8,500. The work, bound in red morocco leather, is illustrated with 275 engraved plates after designs by Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755) and 209 wood-engraved head-and tailpieces by Le Sueur and Papillon. Supralibros "Racine Demonville" in gold letters on each cover. This edition is considered "one of the most ambitious and successful of all illustrated books." [Posted on December 26, 2016.]

September 25, 2009. French Minister of Culture and Communications Frédéric Mitterrand officially reopened the Desert de Retz to the public in an inauguration ceremony held at the garden on September 24, 2009, before over 1,500 guests. Mitterrand, whose uncle, the late president François Mitterrand had visited the Desert de Retz and encouraged its preservation, delivered the dedicatory speech, following remarks by author Julien Cendres, Dr. Pierre Morange and Alain Schmitz, President of the Conseil General des Yvelines.

Cendres is a native of Chambourcy and co-author with Chloé Ridiguet of Le Désert de Retz, paysage choisi. Dr. Morange is the Mayor of Chambourcy and a Deputy in the French National Assembly. During the ceremony, he was awarded the coveted “Marianne d’Or” for 2009, granted each year to recognize a mayor’s efforts to promote economic development, cultural activities and municipal services.

Other well-known personalities who attended the ceremonies included fashion designers Chantal Thomass and Sonia Rykiel and novelist and publisher Régine Déforges. At the close of the event, guests enjoyed a champagne buffet hosted by the Golf de Retz.

Article in French, "Le Desert de Retz, rendez-vous des people," from the September 25, 2009, issue of the Paris daily, Le Parisien. Flag_fr.gif

September 19, 2009. According to sources, between 800 and 900 persons--including 589 paying adult visitors--discovered the Desert de Retz in the context of the the 26th annual European Heritage Days.

Throughout Europe, during the European Heritage Days, sites and monuments, some normally closed, are opened to the public. It is estimated that more than 30,000 sites and monuments throughout Europe, including more than 15,000 in France alone, participated in the event and attracted some 20 million visitors.

September 18, 2009. A second, revised edition of Le Désert de Retz, paysage choisi by Julien Cendres and Chloé Radiguet was published today. Preface by the late President François Mitterrand and postface by Dr. Pierre Morange, Mayor of Chambourcy. This book contains a detailed chronology of the Désert de Retz up to the present, along with numerous black-and-white and color illustrations and an extensive bibliography. For purchase details, contact Amazon.fr or FNAC.com.

August 3, 2009. Portugal-based landscape architect Gerald Luckhurst posted a reproduction of plans and elevation of Monsieur de Monville's Column House on his blog, Jardim Formoso.

June 20, 2009. Dr. Pierre Morange, the Mayor of Chambourcy, was quoted in the June 10, 2009, issue of a local weekly publication Le Courrier des Yvelines, as stating that the Desert de Retz was officially reopened to the public on June 13, 2009.

According to the article, visits to the Desert de Retz will be scheduled on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month from June to October and will be by appointment only. Call +33(0)1 39 22 31 37 for information and reservations.

An article by Claire Bommelaer entitled entitled, "Le Désert de Retz sort de son sommeil" was published in the June 16, 2009, issue of the French daily Le Figaro. Flag_fr.gif

May 23, 2009. The French government's Journal Officiel announced the creation on May 15, 2009, of an association known as "Le Desert de Retz Jardin des Lumieres." The purpose of the organization is to promote the Desert de Retz by organizing visits, conferendes and meetings as well as contributing to the restoration of the garden and commercialization of products. The association is headquartered in the Chamboury Town Hall.

Déclaration à la sous-préfecture de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. LE DESERT DE RETZ, JARDIN DES LUMIERES. Objet : le développement et la mise en oeuvre toute action et animation ayant pour but la promotion du Désert de Retz, site classé monument historique (MH). Elle travaille notamment à organiser des visites et conférences, ainsi que des rencontres fréquentes avec ses partenaires dans les domaines associatifs et culturels. Elle participe à l’évolution des programmes de réhabilitation, elle commercialise des produits dérivés pour le compte de la commune de Chambourcy. Les relations avec la commune sont définies dans le cadre d’une convention. Siège social : Hôtel de Ville, place Charles de Gaulle, 78240 Chambourcy. Annonce. Flag_fr.gif

March 27, 2009. Dr. Pierre Morange, Mayor of Chambourcy and Deputy in the French National Assembly, posted updated information about the Desert de Retz in French on his official blog.

The mayor plans to open the Désert de Retz to the public by reservation only during the course of 2009 and hopes that the restored garden can serve as the venue for cultural activities and professional gatherings in the future.

January 22, 2009. A blogger whose weblog is called Daniel Has Potential has uploaded a series of photographs of folly gardens in Europe, includng two of the Desert de Retz, the Pyramid Icehouse and the Column House.


September 25, 2008. In a telephone conversation, a representative of the Chambourcy Town Hall confirmed the acquisition of the Desert de Retz and the approval of the transaction by the Conseil d'Etat.

September 28, 2008. A four-volume set of La Paysanne parvenue, ou les Memoires de Madame la Marquise de L.V., by Charles de Fieux de Mouhy (1701-1784), belonging to the library of Monsieur de Monville, was auctioned at Drouot. The work was inspired by Mariveaux's Paysan parvenu. In-duodecimo, bound in red morocco leather, front covers stamped with the name "Racine Demonville" in gold. This work corresponds to item #210 on page 20 of a catalogue entitled Notice des Livres, après le décès de Racine Montville [sic], in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. [Posted on December 25, 2016.]

September 11, 2008. A French website, SainGer.com reported today that the Ambassador of the United States to France, the Honorable Craig Stapleton, accompanied by the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, the Honorable Cho Il-Hwan, recently paid an unofficial visit to the Desert de Retz. The town of Chambourcy has posted pictures of the visit on its website. The town is currently seeking philantrophic support for the restauration of the various structures in the garden in view of its eventual reopening to the public.

August 8, 2008. The Russian economics journal Vedomosti published an article about British and European folly gardens with a description of the Desert de Retz and links to the Racine de Monville Home Page and other folly websites. flags_of_Russia.gif

July 26, 2008. Gwenda Brophy has written an excellent overview of British and Continental folly gardens in the Financial Times entitled Extreme Living, with specific reference to the Desert de Retz.

July 16, 2008. The Racine de Monville Home Page was added to the "Architecture Buildng Types" category of the Airnyc--All About Arts online arts directory.

May 30, 2008. The Centre Franco-Chinois of the University of Tongji in Shanghai, China, organized an important exposition entitled Cathay aux Jardins des Lumières: «L’image de la Chine dans les jardins en France au XVIIIe siècle» . The exposition ran from May 30 through July 15, 2008.

Correspondence and books, most notably an important work by the Englishman William Chambers after a visit to China, aroused a wave of enthusiasm in Europe for Chinese gardens in the latter half of the 18th century that led to the construction of numerous "Chinese" follies and pavilions, including Monsiur de Monville's Chinese House.

The exposition chronicles and documents these structures with numerous reproductions of 18th century engravings and recent color photographs as well as explanatory texts in Chinese and French.

View all all twenty-nine panels of the exposition.

May 2, 2008. The Aqueduc de Retz was built during the reign of Louis XIV--from around 1680 to 1690. Its purpose was to provide water for the fountains in the gardens of the Chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. A French-language website called Rue des Lumières has posted a map and descriptive texts, along with 31 color photographs of the six-kilometer long underground aquaduct.

L’aqueduc de Retz, construit sous Louis XIV (vers 1680-1690), avait pour vocation d’alimenter en eau les fontaines du château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Carte et textes. Trente-et-une photographies couleur. Flag_fr.gif

April 3, 2008. In a subsequent post on the blog referenced below, Nathalie Bieleu cites an article appearing in the April 3, 2008, issue of Courier des Yvelines stating that the Desert de Retz had, in fact, been purchased by the Société Foncière de Joyenval, which owns the golf course adjacent to the garden.

Additionally, a new entry, undated, Nouvelles du Désert, on the website of the Association Histoire de Chambourcy, de Retz et d'Aigremont (HISCREA), states that the Société Foncière de Joyenval had in fact purchased the Desert de Retz and immediately retroceded it to the town of Chambourcy for a symbolic payment of 1 euro--pending approval of the transaction by the Conseil d'Etat, the legal advisory authority of the French government.

February 1, 2008. In an entry entitled "Le Désert de Retz va sortir de l'oubli", Nathalie Joëlle Bieleu, the author of a French-language blog called moi telle que je suis blogueuse globetrotteuse quoted a parliamentarian representing the town of Chambourcy as saying that the Desert de Retz would be "acquired for the symbolic price of one euro and opened to the public during 2009."


November 20, 2007. Pierre Berloquin added a comment about the Desert de Retz and a link to the Racine de Monville Home Page in his French-language blog, Circonstances atténuantes.

November 12, 2007. Monsieur de Monville's Column House is included in a list of the Top Seven Weirdest Houses in the world.

November 6, 2007. A French weblog called Forêt de l'Arc-en-Ciel, which describes itself as a "forum ésotérique," published a post by "Hurlelune" entitled Jardins à Fabriques ou Folies : l’exemple du Désert de Retz, consisting of text in Frencha photographs of the Desert de Retz, as well as a link to the Racine de Monville Home Page.

June 5, 2007. A work from Monsieur de Monville's library, Oeuvres de Rabelais avec des remarques historiques et critiques de Mr. le Duchat, in three quarto volumes bound in red morocco leather, gilt edges, published in Amsterdam in 1741, was sold at auction at Sotheby's Paris for €16,000. The cover of each volume is stamped in gold with the superlibros "Racine Demonville." Jacob Le Duchat (1658-1735) was a French scholar and philologist who authored the first annotated edition of Rabelais' works. A Calvenist, he fled to Berlin after Louis XIV suppressed Protestantism in France in 1685. [Posted on December 26, 2016.]

May 1, 2007. Swedish historians Lars & Nanna Cnattingius included a description of the Desert de Retz and a full-page color photograph of Monsieur de Monville's Column House by the webmaster in their book, Ruiner. Historia, öden och vård.

April 27, 2007 Ronald W. Kenyon delivered a two-hour lecture in French about the Désert de Retz in the Salle de la Chaussée in the town of L'Etang-la-Ville. The lecture was sponsored by the L'Etang-la-Ville chapter of Accueil des Villes Françaises. Photo of the lecture, courtesy Pierre Isselin.


October 3, 2006. Two of Michael Kenna's photographs of Monsieur de Monville's Column House along with a text in Spanish about the Desert de Retz appeared in El Blog de Irene Gracia, an apparently-defunct weblog by the novelist Irene Gracia, author of the novel El coleccionista de almas perdidas, a section of which, entitled Los Sustanciales, takes place at the Desert de Retz.

La Colonne Détruite podría ser la casa de mis sueños y de mis pesadillas. Aquí ubiqué el cuento Los Sustanciales, de mi novela El Coleccionista de Almas Perdidas. En él se narra la historia de una cofradía de seres creados por la mano del hombre que cada año se reúnen en un jardín diferente: desde el jardín del edén hasta el del fin de los tiempos. El último encuentro de Los Sustanciales tuvo lugar en este espacio mágico de Chamburcy[sic], sin duda porque allí encontraron el cobijo que sólo el arte de la arquitectura puede ofrecer. Este espacio simbólico es un sueño de piedra, la escenografía real y perfecta para que estos seres virtuales vivan su propio paraíso o su propio infierno. --Irene Gracia Spanish flag


October 19, 2005. Opening of a new exposition at the Château de Fontainebleau, "Court Theatre: Shows at Fontainebleau in the 18th Century." In the eighteenth century, the Château de Fontainebleau was a particularly creative environment,producing many new shows that enjoyed lasting success. Costumes and props, drawings, engravings, and manuscripts complete this glimpse of the way shows were organised at the chateau: 150 works in all, from private and public collections in France and abroad.

The 43-page press release contains descriptions in French of all the works along with a chronology and practical information. The exposition continues until January 23, 2006.

September 15, 2005. Issue number 36 of the Racine de Monville Home Page News was circulated today. The first issue appeared on July 4, 2002. If you would like to add your name to the mailing list and receive the newsletter regularly, send an email to the Webmaster.

June 13, 2005. Jean-Marc Heftler-Louiche, co-owner of the Desert de Retz, along with Dominique Césari, author of Jardins des Lumières en Ile-de-France, recently published by Parigrammes, and the webmaster of the Racine de Monville Home Page, Ronald Kenyon, met for lunch at Les Editeurs in the Latin Quarter of Paris. During the lunch, each of these Three Musketeers defended his personal interpretation of the significance of the Desert de Retz and responded to questions from the other guests. Photo: from left to right, Heftler-Louiche, Kenyon, Césari.

Jean-Marc Heftler-Louiche, co-propriétaire du Désert de Retz, ainsi que Dominique Césari, auteur de l’ouvrage Jardins des Lumières en Ile-de-France, récemment paru chez Parigramme, et Ronald Kenyon, webmestre de la Racine de Monville Home Page, se sont réunis au déjeuner aux Editeurs au Quartier Latin. Pendant le repas, chacun des Trois Mousquetaires a défendu sa thèse concernant le symbolique du Désert de Retz et a répondu aux interrogations des autres convives. Photo: de gauche a droit, Heftler-Louiche, Kenyon, Césari. flag_fr.gif

April 29, 2005. View a watercolor of Monsieur de Monville's Column House by acclaimed Latin American surrealist painter Alfredo Castañeda. This piece is an early work from the artist, signed and dated 1967. From Artspawn.

January 30, 2005. The Racine de Monville Home Page was referenced on a post to a weblog called fastacting: "[Situationalist author] Guy Debord considered it one of the esoteric, psychogeographical centers of Paris." Well, of course, the Desert de Retz isn't in Paris, but this is what the blogger was referring to.

January 2, 2005. In a post about follies and monuments, the pseudonymous "Thomas J. Wise" posted a link to the Racine de Monville Home Page on Metafilter, the community weblog. This is the second mention of the Racine de Monville Home Page on Metafilter.


November 5, 2004. The decorative hardware created by an eccentric Bostonian locksmith named Enoch Robinson (1801-1888), became famous throughout the United States, and examples of his originality remain today in Boston and in Washington, where some of Robinson's fixtures still operate doors in the U.S. Treasury Building next to the White House.

But Enoch Robinson's most famous creation may have been his own home, a round house that he built in Somerville, Massachusetts. The shape of the house has been traced by architectural historians to Monsieur de Monville's Column House at the Desert de Retz.

Enoch Robinson's Round House is located at 36 Atherton Street in Somerville, Massachusetts. It is privately owned and can not be visited. Badly needed restorations were undertaken in the 1970's but never completed. In 2009 the Round House was acquired by a new owner who was working on its restoration.

October 14, 2004. Again this year, the Association Histoire de Chambourcy, de Retz et d'Aigremont ( HISCREA), sponsored a series of “Lundis du Désert” walks in the Forêt de Marly from October 2004 through March 2005. The walks were be led by Pierre Emile Renard, a historian with extensive knowledge of the Désert de Retz. During the walks, visitors were able to view most of the follies at the Desert de Retz from vantage points outside the garden. Additional informaton: telephone 01 34 74 47 51 or contact .

September 27, 2004 The Municipal Council of Chambourcy, in its monthly deliberations, decided to undertake negotiations with the co-owners of the Desert de Retz in view of acquiring the property, restoring the garden and opening it to the public once again. Target date: September 2005. For more information (in French) consult the minutes of the meeting pdf.gif on the Chambourcy website.


October 21, 2003. The Association Histoire de Chambourcy, de Retz et d'Aigremont (HISCREA), sponsored a series of “Lundis du Désert” walks in the Forêt de Marly from November 2003 through March 2004.

October 12, 2003. The Age of Watteau, Chardin and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting opens at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The exhibition will include Antoine Watteau's fêtes galantes; Boucher's lyrical pastorals; Jean Siméon Chardin's dignified representations of bourgeois life; Jean-Honoré Fragonard's dangerous liaisons; and Louis-Léopold Boilly's polished interiors and Paris street scenes. The show will run through January 11, 2004, then move to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, from February 8 through May 9, 2004.

September 29, 2003. A discription of the Desert de Retz and four photographs copied from the Racine de Monville Home Page were posted to a French weblog called M'Zelle Jenny's. In 2005 this weblog was defunct.

September 20-21, 2003. Launched twenty years ago by Jack Lang, then the French Minister of Culture, this year's Journées Européennes du Patrimoine are scheduled for the weekend of September 20-21. Thousands of historic sites, including many that are normally closed to the public, will be open during the weekend. Consult the full schedule for France.

May 23-25, 2003. Le ministère de la culture crée une manifestation nationale : "Rendez-vous aux jardins" qui a l'ambition d'être pour le végétal ce que les Journées du patrimoine sont à la pierre, au métal ou au béton. Pour l'occasion, quelque 900 jardins, publics ou privés, seront ouverts aux visiteurs. Lire l'article au Monde du 21 mai 2003. flag_fr.gif

May 13, 2003. As part of its week-long study tour, An American in Paris: The Legacy of Jefferson, the National Trust for Historic Preservation sponsored a guided tour of the Desert de Retz.

May 4, 2003. Jean-Antoine Houdin - Sculptor of the Englightenment, an exposition of 66 works by the greatest European portrait sculptor of the last half of the 18th century, opens at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The show will run through September 7, 2003 in Washington, then will move to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles from November 4, 2003 to January 25, 2004; and the Chateau de Versailles from March 1 to May 30, 2004.

May 1, 2003. Jean-Marc Heftler-Louiche delivered a presentation on the Desert de Retz to 250 members of the Harvard Club and escorted the guests to a picnic and garden party at the Desert de Retz.

April 24, 2003. For the third year in a row, the Racine de Monville Home Page has been selected by the International Association of Web Masters & Designers(IAWMD) to receive its Golden Web Award for 2003-2004.

April 12, 2003. Anne Vallayer-Coster: peintre à la cour de Marie-Antoinette L'oeuvre d'Anne Vallayer-Coster, artiste virtuose souvent comparée à Chardin mais oubliée au rayon femmes par la "grande" histoire de l'art, revient en pleine lumière au musée de la Vieille Charité à Marseille, seule escale européenne d'une exposition créée aux Etats-Unis.

L'exposition, conçue par le Dallas Museum of Art, a déjà tourné à Washington et New York (Frick Collection). Elle est présentée à Marseille jusqu'au 23 juin. flag_fr.gif

March 20, 2003. In a thread about country gardens and nature diaries, a reference to the Racine de Monville Home Page was posted on Metafilter, a collaborative weblog that is open to contributions by the public. Metafilter was rated "best media blog" by Forbes magazine on March 17, 2003.

January 22, 2003. Discover Monsieur de Monville's contemporary and one of France's best still-life painters, the long-neglected Anne Vallayer-Coster: Painter to the Court of Marie-Antoinette, at a new exposition at the Frick Collection in New York. Runs until March 23, 2003.

Buy the Anne Vallayer-Coster catalogue illustrated with 175 color and 50 black-and-white reproductions from Amazon.com and save 30%!

  • January 14, 2003. The Racine de Monville Home Page was listed on the Ile-de-France page of French-at-a-Touch, an English-language portal providing information, history, maps and other resources about French-speaking countries.

    January 13, 2003. The Racine de Monville Home Page and Monsieur de Monville's Garden were listed on the SAPLING Landscape Gateway. SAPLING - the Architecture, Planning & Landscape INformation Gateway - contains over 700 annotated links to websites, books and news stories worldwide.

    January 11, 2003. The Desert de Retz is located at a latitude of approximately 48.9 degrees North and a longitude of approximately 2.0 degrees East. As of today, these coordinates appear on the GeoURL Address Server.

    GeoURL is a location-to-URL reverse directory that allows you to find URLs by their proximity to a given location. The site is currently offline.


    December 12, 2002. Mathematical oddity: on 12/12/2002 this site received its 12012th visitor.

    December 1, 2002. A description of the Racine de Monville Home Page was added to the John “Mad Jack” Fuller website. Fuller, a younger contemporary of Francois Racine de Monville, was an eccentric with a penchant for constructing follies, including a pyramid, an obelisk and a classical temple.

    September 9, 2002. The Racine de Monville Home Page recorded the eleven thousandth visit since the site was launched in 1996.

    August 31, 2002. In today’s entry, the British weblog Plep featured a description of the Racine de Monville Home Page and a link to this site. Plep is an outstanding weblog with much excellent content.

    Read these articles to learn more about weblogs and the history of blogging. Rebecca's Pocket, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The History of (We)blogging. [Posted on July 13, 2017.]

    August 25, 2002. Wayne Lorentz, Chief Editor of Glass Steel and Stone, the Art of Arcitecture, added the Racine de Monville Home Page banner to his website.

    June 22, 2002. The Racine de Monville Home Page was referenced in a message posted on Yaronet.com.

  • June 15, 2002. The Tourist Offices of Etampes and Méréville sponsored an exceptional day-long visit to the gardens of Méréville and Jeurre. Méréville, along with the Désert de Retz, was one of the greatest eighteenth-century French folly gardens. After the decline of Méréville, a number of its follies were salvaged and transported to the park at Jeurre.

    June 1, 2002. Faculty, staff and students of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure in Paris enjoyed a déjeuner sur l'herbe at the Désert de Retz that was followed by a tour of the garden escorted by Olivier Choppin de Janvry.

    May 15, 2002. The Racine de Monville Home Page registered its ten thousandth visitor.

    April 26, 2002. Following a message about the Francophilia Page of this site posted on the rec.travel.europe newsgroup on the Usenet, Peter Hornby added a link to the Racine de Monville Home Page on his site, The Languedoc Pages.

    April 14, 2002. Sean K. MacPherson writes in today's New York Times Magazine about Lotusland, the garden of Madame Ganna Walska, whose credo was "Enemy of the average." Created in Montecito, California, Lotusland is a labyrinthine collection of many gardens, "The living incarnation of Walska's irrational exuberance." Included is a Lotusland slide show.

    Another article has short descriptions and illustrations of five more of MacPherson's fantasy lands: Carlos de Beistegui's Paris penthouse; Edward James's Las Pozas in Xilitla, Mexico; Dawnridge, the Beverly Hills home and garden of Tony Duquette; the Old Deaf School Park's topiary Garden in Columbus, Ohio; and Alfonso Ossorio's the Creeks at Georgica Pond on Long Island.

    April 2002. Paris and the South of France: In the Footsteps of Jefferson
    The 2002 Study Trip abroad of the Decorative Arts Trust focused on the thoughts, passions and reality of Thomas Jefferson in France from 1784-1789. Included in the program was a visit to the Desert de Retz, accompanied by Oliver Choppin de Janvry.

    The Decorative Arts Trust is a non-profit organization of collectors, museum professionals, and others who share an interest in the study and preservation of the decorative arts.

    January 6, 2002. Fictionalized Column House centerpiece of new novel.
    An exact replica of Monsieur de Monville’s Column House at the Desert de Retz figures as the focal point of I’ll Let You Go, a new novel by Bruce Wagner. In the novel, a fabulously rich industrialist erects the replica of the Column House on his estate in the exclusive Los Angeles suburb of Bel Air and his nephew disappears after spending his wedding night in the structure… Read the review by Jay McInerney in the New York Times.
    Buy the book.
    at Amazon.com and save 30%!


    October 29, 2001. The Wayback Machine is a new digital library tool that locates archived versions of over 10 billion Web pages dating to 1996. These snapshots reveal the origins of the Internet and how it has evolved over the years. Find archived versions of The Racine de Monville Home page dating as far back as January 16, 1999. Read more about the Wayback Machine in Wired, Salon, and in these interviews with its inventor, Brewster Kahle.

    August 19, 2001. The International Association of Web Masters & Designers selected the Racine de Monville Home Page as a winner of its Golden Web Award 2001-2002.

    July 6, 2001. "Charlottesville: The Other Utopia Jefferson Founded" is the title of an article by Paula Dietz in today's New York Times that discusses how Thomas Jefferson's visit to the Desert de Retz influenced his design for the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. Sign-in required.

    June 3, 2001. During a visit to France, the webmaster and two friends from St.-Germain-en-Laye went to the site of the Desert de Retz. Some storm damage is still evident on the wall protecting the property, but the Column House and the Theatre Decouvert were visible and in good condition as was the Petit Autel Presque Ruiné.

    April 1, 2001. The Racine de Monville Home Page was referenced in the Web Watch column of the Spring, 2001, issue of Follies: The International Magazine for Follies, Grottoes and Garden Buildings. This magazine is published quarterly by the Folly Fellowship.

    March 15, 2001. While the webmaster was in Paris, he received an email from Jessica Williams, informing him that none of the photographs on the site were visible. After confirmation that this was indeed the case, the problem was quickly corrected. Jessica Williams is a gifted and creative jazz pianist with a long and distinguished career as a leader. She is also an entrepreneur, having designed her own web site where you can listen to samples of her work and order CD's directly from her.

    March 5, 2001. The Racine de Monville Home Page is featured in Ric Erickson's "Au Bistro" column in today's issue of Metropole Paris.

    January 4, 2001. The Racine de Monville Home Page receives the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) content label. Content Labels generated by ICRA conform to an internet industry standard known as PICS - the Platform for Internet Content Selection. The ICRA content labeling system makes the internet safer for children and helps parents select sites with content that is appropriate for their children. Read more about ICRA.


    • December 19, 2000. CNN.com published an excellent article about "Earth from Above," the outdoor exposition of 200 sensational aerial photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand that attracted more than 2.5 million visitors to the Jardin du Luxembourg this summer. Includes a gallery of photographs and links.

    • November 18, 2000. This site's Francophilia page is featured on Vues du Ciel, which billed itself as the Internet's first French-English weblog. The blog is now offline. What are blogs? They are unquestionably the best way to explore the Web!

    • November 16, 2000. Tom Dowd of the University of Virginia reports that over 300 trees were destroyed at the Desert de Retz during last year's storms and that "the damage was very much in evidence" during his visit on October 26, 2000. The University of Virginia bought several American trees to help with the reforresting of the Desert de Retz.

    • October 22-27, 2000. Thomas Jefferson in Paris was the theme of a six-day program of discussions, tours, and other events sponsored by the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundationm and led by Professor Tom Dowd. The program included a visit to the Desert de Retz.

    • October 12, 2000. "Surf the Palace at Versailles. Donations Accepted" is the title of an article by Michael Pollack in today's New York Times about the Versailles web site. Sign-in required.

    • June 14, 2000. The Racine de Monville Home Page is added to the listing on About.com's page of Famous Gardens and their Designers. About.com is a network of over 700 sites led by expert guides.

    • May 4, 2000. The Washington Post publishes an article by Adrian Higgins about Chanticleer, a 30-acre garden in Wayne PA, containing an artificial ruin inspired by the Desert de Retz.

    • April 27, 2000. The city of St.-Germain-en-Laye presented a conference about the Desert de Retz by Pierre-Emile Renard in the Office Municipal de Tourisme.

    • April 6, 2000. The New Orleans chapter of Friends of Vieilles Maisons Françaises, now renamed French Heritage Society sponsored a lecture by Olivier Choppin de Janvry entitled "Le Desert de Retz: An 18th century French Folly Garden."

    • March 2-May 28, 2000. The Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University in New Orleans presented an exposition in the Woldenberg Art Center Gallery entitled: Pondering the Folly: The Désert de Retz and its Legacy.

    • February 23, 2000. An international subscription program has been set up by the Château de Versailles to replant the 10,000 trees uprooted by the storm on December 25-26, 1999. A total of $23 million is needed. For only $154 anyone can adopt a tree to be planted in the park at Versailles. Read the article in the Christian Science Monitor.

    • January 31, 2000. Amazon.com forwards the first payment of referral fees for purchases made from the Racine de Monville Home Page. The amount, $30.19, will be contributed to the World Monuments Fund or another organization working to preserve the Désert de Retz and other endangered sites.


    • December 25-26 and December 27-28, 1999. With hurricane-force winds, the worst storms in recorded history destroy over 300 million trees in western Europe. In the Forêt de Marly, an estimated 130,000 trees are uprooted. According to preliminary reports, the buildings of the Désert de Retz suffer no damage.

    • November 30, 1999. The Racine de Monville Home Page is added to the data base of the World Wide Arts Resources. WWAR was created in 1994 and is now the Web's largest collection of arts-related links.

    • November 20, 1999. The Racine de Monville Home Page is accepted into the architectural history section of the Open Directory Project. The Open Directory Project's goal is to produce the most comprehensive directory of the web, by relying on a vast army of volunteer editors.

    • October 29, 1999. Dominique Césari, who has created an informative site about eighteenth century gardens, and Ronald Kenyon visit and photograph the park at Jeurre, 45 kilometers south of Paris. Jeurre is the location of four fabriques that once graced the fabulous garden at Méréville, designed in 1784 by Hubert Robert for the Marquis de Laborde. The four fabriques, the Laiterie, the Temple of Filial Piety, the Rostral Column and the Cenotaph of Captain Cook, were relocated to Jeurre at the turn of the century.

    • September 30, 1999. The Racine de Monville Home Page hosts its 1,000th visitor.

    • September 6, 1999. The Racine de Monville Home page is now listed by Yahoo! on its search engine.

    • August 20, 1999. The Racine de Monville Home Page becomes an associate of Amazon.com with all commissions allocated to a fund for the restoration of the Desert de Retz.

    • August 17, 1999. The Racine de Monville Home Page is added to the French Revolution Home Page (currently offline).

    • June 4-6, 1999. The Architectural Association in London hosted an international symposium,French Gardens and Their Conservation, featuring lectures by specialists from France and England. Olivier Choppin de Janvry delivered a lecture entitled "The Désert de Retz: The Rescue of a Late-Eighteenth-Century Landscape Garden."


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