Europa Nostra visits heritage sites in Bougival, near Paris

On 9 September 2015, top-level representatives from Europa Nostra paid a visit to Bougival, a small town located 15 km from the centre of Paris famous for being an important lieux de mémoire related to European 19th century painting, music and literature, and was presented with an ambitious project which aims to revitalise its unique artistic heritage through the creation of a European Centre for Music. Europa Nostra welcomed the project promoted by the renowned opera singer Jorge Chaminé and praised the firm commitment of private individuals and local authorities to preserving and promoting this exceptional site of European heritage.

Europa Nostra’s visit to Bougival near Paris
The delegation from Europa Nostra – comprised of Executive President Denis de Kergolay, Vice-president Piet Jaspaert, Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović and Council Member Laurent Lévi-Strauss – participated in a guided tour conducted by Jorge Chaminé to the most iconic places in Bougival, namely the Impressionists’ Hill, which inspired the great French masters, the Villa Viardot, Bizet’s house and Turgenev’s seasonal home. Marianne Poncelet, Executive Vice-President of the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation, and Louisa Anastopoulos, Vice-President of the Friends of the Y. Menuhin Foundation, also took part in the visit.

“Our visit to Bougival was a moving experience. Thanks to a series of passionate and formidable personalities, the unique heritage sites located in this small town by the river Seine have been saved from demolition and oblivion. We were delighted to see that the local authorities of Bougival and its Mayor Luc Wattelle and the nearby city of La Celle Saint-Cloud are jointly dedicated to further supporting those efforts,” said Denis de Kergorlay.

“Europa Nostra recognises the European character of Bougival’s heritage and gives its support to the ambitious plan which aims to enable a true renaissance of Bougival through the revitalisation of its artistic heritage – both tangible and intangible – and through the use of this heritage to stimulate creativity and innovation by present and future generations of European artists,” highlighted the Executive President of Europa Nostra.

For his part, Jorge Chaminé stated: “The support of Europa Nostra is a keystone in the construction of this project and whose partnership we are in advance mostly grateful for. Of course music is the link throughout this project. Nevertheless it also embraces all those eminent and memorable people who lived or visited Bougival, around whom this unique and original project is built. Arts, humanities, theatre, literature, linguistics, science, social responsibility, mathematics, medicine, new communication fields, all within the Golden Triangle – represented by the house of Georges Bizet, the dacha of Turgenev and the Villa Viardot – will resurrect the spirit of Europe, from the Urals to the Atlantic. A spirit of dialogue, of interbreeding, of creativity that will bring us back to the European fundamentals, on which a better future can be shaped.”

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović affirmed: “We wish to pay special tribute to four inspiring individuals for their unreserved dedication to the preservation of Bougival’s heritage. Firstly, the charismatic opera singer Jorge Chaminé, who kindly organised our visit to Bougival, and who is firmly dedicated to reviving the memory and legacy of Pauline García-Viardot, the famous Franco-Spanish mezzo-soprano who lived in Bougival in the 19th century and whose Villa Viardot served as an inspiring meeting place for numerous European musicians, painters, writers and intellectuals. Jorge Chaminé is also an enthusiastic promoter of the idea of a future European Centre for Music to be created in Bougival.”

“We were also impressed by the determination of Benita Carteron, who has mobilised museums around the world to support a public campaign to save the Impressionists’ Hill, the integrity of which was threatened by a real-estate development project. She continues to fight for the protection of the unique cultural landscape of Bougival, which has been immortalised by numerous painters from Turner to Monet, from Sisley to Renoir,” added the Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

“We are also grateful to Anne-Gaëlle Pellistrandi and her family for keeping alive the memory of Georges Bizet by conserving the house in which the great French composer finalised the orchestration of his famous opera Carmen and in which he sadly died at the age of 36 during the night of 2-3 June 1875; and to Alexander Zviguilsky and his family for preserving the legacy of the great Russian writer Ivan Turgenev, by gathering and displaying an impressive collection of artifacts, documents and memorabilia in the dacha, located near the Villa Viardot, in which Turgenev lived and died,” she concluded.

For many years, Jorge Chaminé has given and organised concerts and Master Classes in the Villa Viardot. In 2008, the Spanish mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza inaugurated the 1st Festival of Bougival with a Master Class dedicated to Carmen. More than 100 music events have taken place in the Villa Viardot since 2001. Local authorities from Bougival and La Celle Saint-Cloud are now committed to restoring the Villa Viardot and its surrounding park.

The proposed European Centre for Music plan foresees the creation of a high-level school focusing on music from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. It will be aimed at young professionals of very advanced ability and the courses will be given by prestigious personalities, under the supervision of Teresa Berganza and Jorge Chaminé. Concerts, exhibitions, performances, poetry recitals, conferences, symposia and seminars will complement the education and training programme.

The European Centre for Music project under the direction of Jorge Chaminé has received encouragement and support from the municipality of La Celle Saint-Cloud, the foundation ‘City and Heritage’ and the Association of Friends of Georges Bizet. Many famous artists have shown interest and given their approval to this project, such as Alfred Brendel, Aldo Ciccolini, Léon Fleischer, Natalie Dessay and Claudio Abbado, among others.

Media Coverage

Latest articles about Partnerships

Winners of the Ode to Joy Challenge announced

German photographer Thomas Struth wins Helena Vaz da Silva European Award 2024

Geneva: Europa Nostra visits ALIPH headquarters

More Articles +