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Renovating the priory of Saint-Pierre-en-Chastres

A project for heritage, artistic education and creation

This important site of our local heritage deserves to be protected, restored and animated. Therefore, the Festival des Forêts has proposed to restore the building and to arrange the site in order to open it to the public, and for educational and artistic use.

ARC (Agglomération de Compiègne) and ONF (Office National des Forêts) supported the project and made urgent repairs in the main building in 2013, and then bought the whole site in 2019.

The main project is to create a Theatre de Verdure next to the ancient abbey church and host events in this open-air auditorium, mainly concerts and educational activities.  Arc is in charge of the works and budget, while the Festival des Forêts is responsible for the conception of the theater and  for raising funds to finance it.

This important site of our local heritage deserves to be protected, restored and animated. Therefore, the Festival des Forêts has proposed to restore the building and to arrange the site in order to open it to the public, and for educational and artistic use.

ARC (Agglomération de Compiègne) and ONF (Office National des Forêts) supported the project and made urgent repairs in the main building in 2013, and then bought the whole site in 2019.

The main project is to create a Theatre de Verdure next to the ancient abbey church and host events in this open-air auditorium, mainly concerts and educational activities.  Arc is in charge of the works and budget, while the Festival des Forêts is responsible for the conception of the theater and  for raising funds to finance it.

How to preserve heritage and give it an artistic dimension

The project is as follows :

  • arrangement of the ground floor and basement for the educational activities around music and nature;
  • creation in the upper floors of four flats and workshops to host artists during residences from a few days to several weeks. According to former artists like Nerval, Corot, Delibes, Martinu, the Impressionists, the forest is inspiring for creators and the festival would thus benefit from the in-depth work that they would do in this place;
  • enhancement of the site to attract hikers with the beautiful ruins, very old remarkable trees, mysterious underpass, water source, and nearby the Etangs de Saint-Pierre, the Eugénie Pavillion, the tree-climbing  park  and various discovery tracks;
  • creation of the Theatre de Verdure to host concerts in the heart of the forest, for the Festival or other organizers , this notwithstanding, the usual stop overs in the other villages of the area remaining included.

An economic and social project

Saint-Pierre-en-Chastres being an important piece of heritage of our region, its restoration  has  two other goals of general interest :

  • Economic development thanks to a touristic offer all year round ( Musical forest bathing  proposed by the Festival des Forêts)
  • Occupational integration of long-term unemployed or in difficulty persons

One of the priorities of ARC concerning the economic development of the region is to enhance its touristic assets.  The site is only a few kilometers away from Pierrefonds and its Castle, very close to the typical village of Vieux-Moulin with its restaurants, the Saint-Pierre lakes with Empress Eugénie’s Pavillion , an original witness of the 2nd Empire. Various activities are proposed, such as fishing, leasure family spaces, “Grimp à l’Arbre” park, many paths in the forest to observe the fauna and flora. The highlight of Saint-Pierre-en-Chastres will offer a new touristic spot where nature and heritage are tightly bound.

Within this general project, the creation of the “Theatre de Verdure” will be a new step toward the revival of this long-abandoned piece of heritage. The opening of the Theatre and the events which will take place there will turn it into a renowned place in the forest to go to and to speak about.

A quick background of the project

It was first elaborated by MM.Damée and Simon who drew the guideline of the layout around the restored buildings, and imagined the space devoted to the Theatre de Verdure.

A study of the Theatre itself was ordered to Arval Architects, it was done by Mrs Hafsa Devauvre in a very respectful approach.

The full implementation of the Theatre will spread over several years as follows :

  • security of the ruins achieved thanks to ARC in 2020;
  • archaeological diagnosis  stipulated by the regional prefect, ordered to INRAP in 2017;
  • regulatory authorizations to do the works according to a positive agreement from the Architect from “Bâtiments de France”.

The first step of the realization of the Theatre de Verdure are executed thanks to the funds of Conseil Départemental, ARC and an endowment fund from Crédit Agricole Brie-Picardie. 

The second step ordered by ARC thanks to the financing device INTERREG will allow to widen the possibilities to perform events all year round ( purchase of a stage and removable structures, chairs, lightning , artists lodges, as well as pedestrian access from the foot of the hill with  car parks for the public) .