“We hope to finish the renovation work by early 2022, so that we have two years to organise various historical presentations and seminars related to Pierre de Coubertin and the birth of ideas that eventually led to the founding of the modern Games,” said Coubertin’s great grand-nephew Jacques de Navacelle, who currently lives in and manages the property.
It was on the grounds of the Château de Mirville that lawn tennis was played for the very first time in France, and on its lake that Coubertin developed a lifelong love for rowing. Built in the 16th century, the château itself is steeped in history and is an officially classified historical monument.
“An extension was built in the 19th century by Pierre himself,” added Navacelle. “The property has been in the family since 1669 and it was in the 19th century, that the grand-daughter of the Marquis de Mirville married Charles de Coubertin, father of Pierre. Their family then settled in Mirville and thus, Pierre spent his entire youth here.”
The Château de Mirville is also showcased at The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, part of the presentation that traces the story and life of Pierre de Coubertin through documents, photographs, sound and video.
“In 1961, when my father took ownership of the château from his Coubertin ancestors, he was fascinated by his uncle whom he had met when he was young. He wanted to revive his memory, once again associating Mirville with Pierre and the Olympic Movement,” explained Navacelle. “In fact, Mirville was very important to Pierre. His brother wanted to sell it, but Pierre – who had meanwhile moved to Lausanne – opposed this.”
The family want to revive this spirit and with Paris 2024 approaching, hope that Mirville will be a point of interest around the Games. The Olympic flame had passed through Mirville in 1992 for the Olympic Winter Games in Albertville.
The renovation is being carried out under strict restoration norms of a heritage property, with the financial support of the French Ministry of Culture, the Département Seine-Maritime of Normandy and the International Olympic Committee.
“I’m working to secure the remaining 25 per cent of the funding through tax-deductible donations and crowdfunding,” concluded Navacelle, even as the renovation work is about to get underway with an architectural firm that specialises in historical restoration.
“We want this place to be perfect for Paris 2024.”