“Flying over it in a hot air balloon a few months ago, the Olympic Games teams were amazed by the beauty of the site”jubilant Catherine Pgard, director of the Palace of Versailles, which will be the scene of many sporting events during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, from July to September 2024. The sports calendar can disrupt the life of French cultural establishments, a myriad of events, programmed within the framework of the Cultural Olympiad (sponsorship banner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), work, prior to the Games, to the cohabitation between sport and culture.
While some cultural institutions fear that the sporting event will overshadow them, the Palace of Versailles is not worried: “Our challenge is to demonstrate that we are not suffering from the Games. It is, on the contrary, a chance for the castle », assures Raphaël Gastebois, in charge of the architectural conservation of the estate. Twenty-one sporting events have been planned in the gardens of the castle and in the city. Four disciplines will be represented: equestrian sports, modern pentathlon, marathon and road cycling.
The Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Cojop) chose this “box” for its historical dimension. Seat of the royal stables, the Palace of Versailles is known for its equestrian tradition, and will be honored during the riding events. The route of the marathon was modeled on the route of the women’s march on Versailles on October 5, 1789, which preceded the return of King Louis XVI to Paris.
Discretion of work
To ensure the continuity of its cultural activities, the castle has concocted a program in tune with the sporting events. An exhibition on the horse will be held between July and October 2024. To spin the sporting metaphor, a “art pentathlon” will be organized until February 2024. The gardens of the castle will be animated by these events stamped Cultural Olympiad.
In order to prepare for the sporting deadlines, work, piloted and financed by the Cojop, has begun around the castle. The site, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, must not be damaged by the Games. The facilities will therefore all be temporary. The structural work will begin in September 2023. A career for horses and a 15,000-seat grandstand surrounding the Royal Star will be set up in the park. The estate’s riding center will be renovated.
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