Le Pin national stud farm

Built between 1715 and 1730 by Pierre Le Mousseux based on the plans by Robert de Cotte, first architect of the King and the architect of the Main Stables at Versailles, the Le Pin stud farm covers over 1,000 hectares and has long been the hallmark of the French national stud farms heritage.

Following the creation of the administration of the royal stud farms in 1665, the first stud farm was at Saint-Léger-en-Yvelines, but the breeding conditions there were not deemed favourable. Moreover, the grounds of this royal stud farm belonged to the Duke of Chevreuse and so the king had to pay him compensation of 3,000 pounds per year. In 1714 the mission to find a new location was entrusted to François Gideon Garsault, the captain of the royal stud farms. Recognising Normandy as a land from horse breeding since the Middle Ages, Garsault chose the "Buisson Hiesmes" property owned by the royal advisor, Sieur Béchamel de Nointel. In 1715, the official transfer to Normandy of the royal stud farm led to the creation of the Le Pin stud farm. In 1717, 200 horses arrived to new stables at the new Le Pin stud farm.

A veritable innovation in equestrian architecture, the Le Pin stud farm remains a unique royal building but is first and foremost a functional space for horses with the sober decor referring to the kinds of large aristocratic mansions. Designed with a horseshoe-based blueprint, the building ensemble is arranged around the cour d'honneur. The Le Pin national stud farm persisted despite the request for its closure by the departmental assembly from 1789.

With the development of horse races, the Le Pin national stud farm became an imperial institution in 1806 and underwent intense activity by participating in the breeding of two races, the English Thoroughbred and French Trotter. This expansion continued into the Second Empire, marked by the 1863 visit of Napoleon III, who had come to watch the races on the pen's racecourse. This 19th-century phase of expansion brought new buildings to the Le Pin's grounds, such as the buildings of the racecourse or the Pontavice complex for stud farm staff.

More recently, in the 1990s, the broodmare station and the stables near the wood were converted into a training centre. In 2006, the stud farm opened a heritage interpretation centre and reception space for visitors. In 2014, the Le Pin national stud farm will host two events in the three-day event of World Equestrian Games: dressage and the most spectacular competition event, cross-country.

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