Friday Fun: Writers’ Residences in Rhône-Alpes

I am fortunate enough to be living (for the time being) in an extremely beautiful part of France. Although the region Rhône-Alpes is a relatively recent administrative invention, the diversity and beauty of its landscapes and its historically autonomous status (parts of it belonged to Savoie rather than France) have been attracting writers for centuries. This Friday I would like to introduce you to some of those and their favourite homes.

Voltaire's chateau in Ferney-Voltaire. From culture.fr
Voltaire’s chateau in Ferney-Voltaire. From culture.fr
Rousseau's country retreat at Les Charmettes near Chambery became a pilgrimage site.  From culture.fr
Rousseau’s country retreat at Les Charmettes near Chambery became a pilgrimage site. From culture.fr
Antoine de Saint-Exupery's childhood home in Saint Maurice near Lyon. From Terre des Ecrivains website.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s childhood home in Saint Maurice near Lyon. From Terre des Ecrivains website.
Paul Claudel's Chateau de Brangues, in a village that Stendhal wrote about in 'The Red and the Black'.
Paul Claudel’s Chateau de Brangues, in a village that Stendhal wrote about in ‘The Red and the Black’.
Gertrude Stein's refuge from Paris during WW2, Bilignan near Belley. From Tourisme Belley-Bas-Bugey website.
Gertrude Stein’s refuge from Paris during WW2, Bilignin near Belley. From Tourisme Belley-Bas-Bugey website.

Finally, two villas for which I couldn’t find current pictures. The first, the ivy-covered manor house Boringe on the shores of Lake Annecy, completely captivated Hippolyte Taine. For twenty years he spent March to November there and wrote every morning in his study.

BoringeTaine

The second is on the shores of Lake Geneva, near Evian, where Anna de Noailles spent her childhood summers. It was here that she met Marcel Proust in 1899 and this is the place she returned to time and time again in her writing.

Villa Bassaraba, from Comtesse de Noailles fan blog site.
Villa Bassaraba, from Comtesse de Noailles fan blog site.

The information for this post comes from the beautifully illustrated book ‘Dans le pas des écrivains en Rhône-Alpes’ by Anne Buttin and Nelly Gabriel, published by Glénat. They mention so many other writers who lived, studied or passed through the region (Baudelaire, Camus, Huysmans, Stendhal, Simone Weil and many more).

 

 

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29 thoughts on “Friday Fun: Writers’ Residences in Rhône-Alpes”

    1. Funnily enough, that’s what I was thinking: what writer today can afford to live in such places? I suspect many of them were well-heeled to start with… which perhaps helped them to decide to turn to writing.

  1. Having lived in France for just over seven years now, I haven’t been anywhere I didn’t find to be both beautiful and inspirational. If I’m not busy writing or exploring the paints come out…

      1. Ah, painting. I’m not any good at it and don’t know the first thing about it but do it for myself and have fun. My little gravatar (I’ve never told anyone this) is a crop from an old painting attempt… 😉

      1. I loved that – thanks for pointing it out! Chateau de Coppet in Switzerland is also close by and belonged to Madame de Staël. She had to flee over the border from France on foot, apparently.

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