Monday, 23 July 2012

The White House is in the Dordogne – Périgord – honestly!

A famous American monument known by all: the White House in Washington, DC.

Surprisingly, the Dordogne is proud to boast its own White House, for those travelling to our region: the Château of Rastignac in the “Bachellerie” village.  This building is renowned for its façade which is similar to the American White House’s South façade.  The architectural type is neoclassic.

Opinions and discussions are varied, numerous and divided in regards to which one the two is the original one and which is the copycat.   The construction of the Chateau of Rastignac, named after the aristocrat Marquis de Chapt de Rastignac, was only a project in 1780, and the actual work began in 1812 to end in 1817.  The architect’s name is not so clear.

The story is the following: Thomas Jefferson (American president from 1801 to 1809) was visiting France and went to the Bordeaux Architecture Academy in 1789.  It is likely he came across the Château of Rastignac architect’s sketches- which construction work hadn’t started yet.
The White House building work began in Washington in 1792.

Despite the historians’ divided opinions, the Périgourdin claims with great pride that the Château of Rastignac is indeed the real McCoy and the American White House is only a mere copy of it.  One thing is certain: the two are very similar in their architectural features.

American tourists visiting our Dordogne region don’t miss the opportunity to drive to the « Bachellerie » to admire the famous facade, along with many other visitors who are just as curious. 

Today and since 2004, the Château of Rastignac has been restored in five spacious residential apartments.

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