Ermenonville

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Park/

A philosophical landscape garden

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Park

The Parc Jean-Jacques Rousseau has been a heritage site for culture (CCR) since 2012. Situated at Ermenonville in Picardy, it revives the heritage of the Enlightenment and showcases its art, landscape design and philosophy.

THE HERITAGE SITE

A vast and picturesque garden of 63 hectares, the Parc Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a reference point in the art of landscape art, by way of its characteristic Enlightenment style and its European influence. Its creator, the Marquis of Girardin, laid out his plans in an essay ‘on the creation of landscapes’ which revealed a wide-ranging approach linking art history, references to Antiquity, examples of Italian and English gardens – a world vision which advocated a new relationship with nature. The park offers a wide variety of landscapes, open meadows and wooded hillsides punctuated by architectural features such as a temples, grottos and cabins, creating picturesque tableaux reminiscent of the great painters. The site has become an important literary pilgrimage destination due to its link with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was buried there in 1778 on the Ile des Peupliers. The Département de l’Oise, which owns the site, restored the buildings, bridges and paths in 2012.

 

THE CULTURAL PROJECT

The multiple references to be found in the gardens have led the site to conduct its work on three themes – arts, landscape arts and philosophical study for the young. The programme is therefore an echo of the Enlightenment – visual arts, literature, living arts, botany, philosophy, astronomy etc, and engages leading specialists in each of these areas. The site is also developing an annual philosophy programme aimed at young audiences, editorial and research projects, artist residencies and numerous national and international partnerships.

 

ACTIVITIES

The cultural and artistic project returns to the essence of the garden, examining the site and its built, natural and intellectual heritage with a contemporary approach. The project brings together artists, thinkers, writers and philosophers to explore in depth one or more of these aspects. It offers support in artistic creation and diffusion as well as educational activities aimed at adults and young people alike, including classes, philosophy workshops in collaboration with UNESCO and involvement with local and regional education programmes. Furthermore, the site is developing a tourism strand which aims to highlight the region’s remarkable historic gardens.

 

A LOCAL AND REGIONAL PRESENCE

Since its creation, the project has been building links with numerous partners working in the fields of environment, heritage and the arts. Its programming has also initiated partnerships with the Fondation Royaumont, l’Echangeur CDC-Picardie, the Faïencerie Théatre in Creil, CR2L, ONDA, the Fondation Pro Helvetia, the Conservatoire and botanic gardens of Geneva, and Painshill Park. The site is also a member of the network Nos Lieux Communs.

Each year, it runs a unique education programme with local schools to introduce pupils to philosophy, the arts and environmental issues. Several thousand students have sharpened their critical skills while their teachers receive training in philosophical study for the young.