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Bonrepos Domain

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Pierre-Paul Riquet (1609-1680) is the maker of the “Canal du Midi”, the artificial river built in the 17th century as a water highway between the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Realized between 1667 and 1681, the Canal du Midi is the largest engineering project of the 17th century and, today, the oldest canal in Europe still in operation.
In 1652 Pierre-Paul Riquet bought the Bonrepos domain - at the time just a fortified tower in the middle of a wooded area - and established here his country residence, building an imposing 3 levels, turret topped mansion surrounded by a dried moat, in the middle of a 30 hectares wooded park (one can still see, bordering the park’s walking paths, 3 huge cedars planted in 1860!).
The estate had also the benefit of having an important hydrographical potential and it is here that Riquet set up his “hydraulic machine” that he experimented with during 15 years before setting off to build the “Canal du Midi”.
Just a little wall – a former floodgate - of what Riquet himself called “hydraulic machine” and the beds of two of the tree water pools - now vegetation covered - are what remains from the older construction – a miniature mock-up of the real canal.
It is probable that the artificial lakes that Riquet built on his estate were also pleasant walking, picnic sites, adequate recreational places for any aristocratic domain at the time.
The path from the main residence to the “hydraulic machine” passes by a little hill that hides inside the “glacier” - a 7 meters deep and 5 meters large cave – that was used in Riquet times to store ice, a rare and valuable commodity in the 17th century. The ice brought here mainly from the Pyrenean Mountains glaciers, was used not only on the family’s table – ice creams, sorbets, cooling the wine – but was a valuable merchandise, the Riquets having the “monopoly” of transporting it on the canal and selling it in the canal’s ports.
Another sign of the prestige of the Riquet family was the presence of an orangery - built in the 18th century by Jean Gabriel Amable, grandson of Pierre-Paul - that was used to house potted plants during the winter. Unfortunately only a part of it survives to our days.
The orangerie is now used as a theatre and concert hall.
Next events for 2015: July 25 (Génération Pink Floyd), October 11 (Chorale groupe Octambule), November 7,8 Journées de plantes
For more photos and some videos from the Riquet Festival 2013 click here

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Address:Bonrepos-Riquet, Haute-Garonne
Latitude:43.6775
Longitude:1.6244
Visiting Hours:Commented visits:
May, September: Sunday and national holidays: 3:00pm
June: Saturday, Sunday and national holidays: 3:00pm
July and August: From Monday to Saturday: 3:00 pm
Sunday and national holidays: 2:00pm and 4:00pm

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