The very old Brégançon stone fort overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, known as the french presidential retreat, is now open to the public. From now on, the gates will be opened from 14th May to 30th September without interruption.
Flashback over the past.
This massive stone built fort used to be the summer residence of the 5th Republic presidents. This is the current president Francois Hollande who decided the ancient military fortress would be opened to visitors. The fort was previously managed and maintained by the Government but is now administrated by the National Monuments Centre since October 2013.
Since the past few years, the fortress was no longer the centre of interest of the politics who would prefer spending their holiday’s time in other residences much more fashionable such as the Cap Nègre villa or the residence La Lanterne in Versailles. However, this imposing monument went on attracting a strong interest amongst inhabitants and tourists wishing they could visit this prime holiday destination.
The tour has been organized as a discovery of the private life of the presidents. Starting from the contemporary style conference room created by George Pompidou and wife, both passionate with design, to finish surrounded by the beautiful white and gold carved wainscoting of the chapel living room, everything gives the visitor the feeling he is a president himself.
The antechamber, the green salon decorated by Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the dining room or the study are as many authentic rooms where visitors can wander through to admire the precious gifts offered by emissaries in charge of preserving good and strong relationships between France and their own country.
Thanks to its strategic position, the island was the ideal spot to control movements in Hyeres and Toulon bays. The fort started to be occupied in 128 before JC by Charles d’Anjou and Jeanne de Naples before becoming a public property belonging to the state during the French revolution. Rented for several years as a hotel for private individuals, the French leader Charles de Gaulle stayed for a night and fell so deeply in love with the place that he decided to convert it as a presidential residence. Four years later, Pierre-Jean Guth who was architect for the French navy, accepted to be responsible for converting the fort as a cosy holiday destination.
That is when will begin the tradition leading the presidents such as George Pompidou, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and François Mitterrand to spend their holidays in this exceptional site.
The place has been slowly abandoned as Jacques Chirac admitted feeling terribly bored within its walls and Nicolas Sarkozy just as well as Francois Hollande only spent one summer there. But the fortress has kept its traditional charm and original features and is now accessible to anyone who wants to see its treasures.
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