Versailles receives a new tourist office for 5 million euros

You can’t miss it. As soon as you exit the RER station of Versailles Château Rive-Gauche, you come face to face with the city’s new tourist office. A strategic position for “capture people. Encourage them to go visit the castle but also the city», explains the mayor of Versailles, François de Mazières, during the official inauguration of the 410 square meter building, this Monday, May 6.

However, the building is not very high, only 6.50 meters, a “microarchitecture», as described by the architect, Philippe Chiambaretta. It thus respects the alignment of the road. “We didn’t want to build an additional building, but a pavilion like in universal exhibitions, a softened architecture“, summarizes the council. Its burgundy stone pillars refer to the classicism of the castle and its glass facade with its zinc roof matches the metallic architecture of the station, like a mirror effect. “It is a perfect square, with double symmetry. A large stone arch in front of the station with a flat roof and a glass cube. A place of information and knowledge, recalling the words of Sacha Guitry: If Versailles were told to me»», underlines Philippe Chiambaretta. A real showcase erected on the site of the old bus station, “ugly and sinister. It was not Versailles here. Something had to be done in relation to the story“, scolds the mayor. The ground floor is intended for public reception and the upper floor for Office services.

A grove that imitates the woods of the Palace of Versailles

It is also about giving life to a pavilion that leads to a grove, it evokes the woods of the Palace of Versailles. In 1663, Molière made his plays for the first time in the woods of the Palace of Versailles, as François de Mazières likes to remember. The forest was created from the drawings of Nicolas Gilsoul, the landscape consultant of the city. And at the bottom of the forest, a surprise awaits us: a bronze statue representing the famous playwright Molière, made by the French artist Xavier Veilhan. “Passers-by sit next to the sculpture, touch it and take a photo with it. This dimension of the physical appropriation of forms is important to me. In a way, this honors his early closeness with his audience“, describes Xavier Veilhan.

An architect of the French buildings forbade 20 years ago to put a few oranges in pots in Versailles. He declared that Versailles was a mineral city, which could not put trees. Mineral Versailles gives its share to the plant. Making a place for the landscape alongside the architecture is essential“, says Valérie Pécresse, president of the Île-de-France region, during the inauguration. The region has injected no less than 1 million euros into the project which costs more than 5 million euros in total. “My vision of the Île-de-France is that of a rebalance between Paris and the suburbs, between Paris and its other capitals. Versailles is the capital of Île-de-France for the Olympic Games“, assures Valérie Pécresse. “The first good impression of Versailles from the world will be the tourist office“Lancia Yaël Braun-Pivet, the president of the National Assembly. A few months before the Olympic Games, this building will be the first visible to foreign tourists who come to watch the equestrian events. “The most beautiful thing in Paris is Versailles” joked the historian Pierre de Nolhac. The creators of the tourism office therefore have no room for error.

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