Designated as a heritage site for culture (CCR) in 2016, the Domaine de Thiré in the Vendée, Pays de la Loire, presents an innovative project from the Fondation Les Arts Florissants, bringing together heritage, baroque music and the art of gardens.
THE HERITAGE SITE
The cultural centre is based at the home of William Christie in Thiré, and consists of the house – le Bâtiment – and its gardens (listed as a historical monument) as well as an Artists’ Quarter. Le Bâtiment, a former farm building of the chateau of Terre Neuve, dates from the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Around this building, William Christie has created a succession of gardens and spaces as remarkable as they are eclectic, referencing the art of the garden in France and Italy at its apogee in the 17th and 18th centuries. The gardens were awarded the accolade ‘Jardin remarquable’ in 2004 and added to the list of historic monuments in 2006. The nearby Artists’ Quarter, a veritable artistic and cultural campus, is comprised of houses built between the 17th and the start of the 20th centuries, around the Place de la Fontaine.
THE CULTURAL PROJECT
The cultural centre has developed around the theme of the ‘baroque spirit’, in the very location where Les Arts Florissants was founded nearly 40 years ago. The basis of the centre’s activity is the bringing together of an international artistic project around the baroque art with a unique heritage site, in a state of perpetual creation. Its vocation is the handing down of a cultural heritage and a passion to new generations.
The project is run by the Fondation Les Arts Florissants – William Christie, created in 2017 to perpetuate the work of Les Arts Florissants, especially at its home in Thiré. The cultural centre is home to the festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie and the academy Jardin des Voix, as well as hosting musicians and young landscape artists in residence, rehearsals, education projects and interactions with the public.
Creation and transmission are at the heart of the work of the Fondation Les Arts Florissants: productions and tours, concerts, performances and festivals such as the Festival du Printemps and Dans les Jardins. Les Arts Florissants also offer a rich discography of audio and video recordings. Alongside its rich musical programming and two large festivals, the Fondation Les Arts Florissants is also involved in education and training. Its work to promote the material heritage of the site and the area includes a competition for young landscape artists (Prix du Jardin Ephémère), residencies for young gardeners, landscape artists and artists, and public visits to the gardens.
The project is guided by the same spirit in which William Christie founded Les Arts Florissants and the gardens of Thiré over 35 years ago. This spirit has given birth to what can today be called the ‘Arts-Flo style’, transmitted by artists, musicologists and researchers with a shared and lasting commitment to young professionals and to sharing their art with as wide an audience as possible.