In this 18th-century glacière, ice, a culinary luxury, was once stocked during the winter months for use later in the year in a semi-subterranean, masoned excavation. This exceptional example of a fabrique de jardin is one among the remaining architectural folies at the Désert de Retz, a landscaped garden created in 1774 by the aristocrat François Racine de Monville. The site, one of the most famous of its time, was a product of the Siècle des Lumières or Age of Enlightenment. At that time the word "désert" was often the term used for a place where one could withdraw from the everyday world to think and to reflect. Illustrious guests to this garden retreat included Madame du Barry, King Gustave III of Sweden, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Marie-Antoinette visited the Désert de Retz several times, taking inspiration for the construction of her own follies--a hamlet and dairy: the Hameau de la Reine in the park of the Château de Versailles and the Laiterie de la Reine in the park of the Château de Rambouillet.
la folie: folly, madness
une fabrique de jardin: an ornamental construction designed to decorate a landscaped garden, and which generally has an exotic or extravagant form inspired by architectural elements of antiquity, history or nature
une glacière: an icehouse