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Louis XIV used to come to the chateau to hunt game on the grounds.

December 27, 2016

One of the best-known chateaux in France is about to get a costly and much-needed renovation, thanks to a wealthy American donor.

U.S. billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of private equity Blackstone, has pledged 3.5 million euros, or approximately $3.6 million, to rebuild the 18th century gardens at Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley.

Schwarzman is an admirer of French culture and a long-time donor to other artistic and institutions in the country, including the Decorative Arts museum and the Louvre, Agence-France Presse reported.

“[Schwarzman] loves France, loves our heritage,” Chambord's director Jean d'Haussonville told AFP, adding that the U.S. benefactor was spurred to action “at a time when we see that heritage is an issue for civilization.”

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The chateau is known for its distinctive French renaissance architecture, complete with soft white stone, towering spires, and spiraling staircases. Built by King Francois I in the 16th century. King Louis XIV later occupied the estate in order to hunt on its spacious grounds.

The 18th century gardens, built in 1734, have long been one of the best-loved aspects of the 400-room castle.

“The image of this garden is inseparable from that of Chambord’s long, globally famous façade, since it extends from the foot of the chateau as part of landscaping designed for Louis XIV,” according to leadership from the chateau.

A combination of usual wear and tear, as well as heavy flooding that took place during the summer of 2016, heavily damaged the grounds and the chateau. Chambord publicly solicited 200,000 euros (approximately $209,000) in public donations to help repair the landmark.

Chateau de Chambord has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1981, and it welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

With Schwarzman’s donation, the chateau expects to reopen the gardens by March 2017, according to the same AFP report.

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