Friday Fun: More French Houses to Covet

It doesn’t always have to be chateaux. I would be quite happy with these ‘little’ gems.

Quite tumble-down, but charming, from 1000pimousse.tumblr.com
A modern wing has been attached to the traditional older house, from amenagementdesign.fr
This one looks ready to decorate for Christmas, from indulgy.com
Classical French symmetry, from Muriel Dana-Normandie-2010
That garden, those lights, I can almost smell the scent of the flowers, from cottgwladys.canalblog.net
I just love well-proportioned, symmetrical architecture when it comes to houses I’d like to live in rather than just admire. From Instagram.
Not so much a house, as a street and an atmosphere in Saignon, France
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Friday Fun: Romanian Villas and Traditional Houses

Just back from a holiday in Romania, where I am always stunned by the diversity of traditional architecture (and the often disappointing standardisation of modern architecture). Here are a few of my favourites.

Traditional Romanian house for mountain area in Transylvania, from adevarul.ro
Modern villas seem to be painted in garish colours, from cleartrip.com
In the northernmost tip of Romania, Bucovina, you get the painted traditional houses (and wells). From PlatFerma.
This would be my dream traditional house, from the region my parents are from (for the well-to-do, of course). Conacul Bellu, from casoteca.ro
Late 19th century villa from the ski resort Predeal, from Romania Libera. 
Two different architectural styles, now part of the same hotel complex, in Sinaia, a mountain resort very close to Predeal. From Booking.com
Finally, something a little bit more adventurous in contemporary architecture, from arhipura.ro

Friday Fun: Villas to Get Away from It All

Sunny spells announced today after yesterday’s stormy weather, but more grey bleakness still to come. So of course I cannot help but wish I were far, far away from it all, in one of these luxurious villas. (Small aside: have you noticed how most celebrity homes and holiday villas featured in magazines are rather tacky and over-decorated? It wasn’t as easy as you might think to find something appealing… even when money is no object.)

It's the landscape which usually does it for me... Villa in Bali, from baliluxuryvillas.com
It’s the views which usually do it for me… Villa in Bali, from baliluxuryvillas.com

Fearless architecture also tempts me, villa in Camps Bay, South Africa. From paradizo.com.
Fearless architecture also tempts me, villa in Camps Bay, South Africa. From paradizo.com.

Another Balinese beauty, but this time the Zen qualities of the inner courtyard. From cuded.com
Another Balinese beauty, but this time the Zen qualities of the inner courtyard. From cuded.com

The swimming pool seems obligatory, even if you have the sea nearby, as in this villa in Seychelles, from cuded.com
Plenty of room to welcome your friends in a mass contemplation of the sea, as in this villa in Seychelles, from cuded.com

The swimming pool comes in handy if you want a quick dip without trekking all the way down to and up from the beach, as in this Mykonos villa. From 400 Holidays site.
The swimming pool comes in handy if you want a quick dip without trekking all the way down to and up from the beach, as in this Mykonos villa. From 400 Holidays site.

Villa in Chile integrated into the landscape, with a rooftop garden. From trendir.com
Villa in Chile integrated into the landscape, with a rooftop garden. From trendir.com

The final one is purely conceptual for the time being and might prove a little too much for my claustrophobic tendencies, but it’s the perfect desert island for someone.

Floating villa with underwater level, from Daily Express.
Floating villa with underwater level, from Daily Express.

Friday Fun: Abandoned, Pulled Down and Restored

Let me introduce you today to homes of famous writers or artists, which no longer function as homes. In most cases, they’ve been pulled down to make way for progress, but not before bankrupting their owners.

Bowens Court, Ireland, home of Elizabeth Bowen.
Bowens Court, Ireland, home of Elizabeth Bowen, visited by Virginia Woolf. Bowen couldn’t afford the bills and sold it; it was demolished in 1961.

Haddon Hall in Beckenham, where David Bowie lived in a commune-like environment in the early 1970s, one of his most productive and creative periods. It was demolished to make way for a road and a block of flats.
Haddon Hall in Beckenham, where David Bowie lived in a commune-like environment in the early 1970s, one of his most productive and creative periods. It was demolished to make way for a road and a block of flats.

Franco-Romanian writer Anne de Noailles spent a part of each year in Evian, where she ran a salon popular with all the great French writers of the period. Although a street and a secondary school in Evian now bear her name, the villa itself no longer exists.
Franco-Romanian writer Anne de Noailles spent a part of each year in Evian, where she ran a salon popular with all the great French writers of the period. Although a street and a secondary school in Evian now bear her name, the villa itself no longer exists.

George Simenon's house near Lausanne, known (NOT affectionately) as 'the Bunker' by the locals, has just been torn down to make way for a new luxury residential development. Simenon had designed the house himself and was extremely security-conscious.
George Simenon’s house near Lausanne, known (NOT affectionately) as ‘the Bunker’ by the locals, has just been torn down to make way for a new luxury residential development. Simenon had designed the house himself and was extremely security-conscious.

The house in which Ray Bradbury lived for 50 years in LA was bought by a star architect in 2015 and torn down to make way for a new building.
The house in which Ray Bradbury lived for 50 years in LA was bought by a star architect in 2015 and torn down to make way for a new building.

This masterpiece of 1970 architecture by Mark Bernstein in Charlotte, NC, aka 'the house that fell to earth' was also torn down to make way for a more modern and bland building.
This masterpiece of 1970 architecture by Mark Bernstein in Charlotte, NC, aka ‘the house that fell to earth’ was also torn down to make way for a more modern and bland building.

Fortunately, some houses escaped this fate, even though the owner had to sell them to pay off debts. Alexandre Dumas, for instance, overreached himself when he built a magnificent chateau (known as the Chateau de Monte-Cristo) just outside Paris, including a little island with the most ambitious ‘writing shed’ in history.

Surrounded by its own little moat, the Chateau d'If writing studio was another typical Dumas extravaganza. in 1969 the house was scheduled for demolition and a large housing development was going to take its place. However, the local villages and an 'Alexandre Dumas Friends Association' managed to band together and save it.
Surrounded by its own little moat, the Chateau d’If writing studio was another typical Dumas extravaganza. in 1969 the house was scheduled for demolition and a large housing development was going to take its place. However, the local villages and an ‘Alexandre Dumas Friends Association’ managed to band together and save it.

 

Friday Fun: More Memories of the Local Area

More higgledy-piggledy pictures of the beautiful area I have had the pleasure of calling home for the last five years…

'Beware of dogs' says the sign - but all I can see are porcelain cows
‘Beware of dogs’ says the sign – but all I can see are porcelain cows

A reading nook I've often dreamt about...
A reading nook I’ve often dreamt about…

Another charming farm conversion...
Another charming farm conversion…

Hours of chromatic and olfactory delight in the Botanical Gardens.
Hours of chromatic and olfactory delight in the Botanical Gardens.

Voltaire's chateau grounds overrun with people and colour and music - just the way he would have liked it.
Voltaire’s chateau grounds overrun with people and colour and music – just the way he would have liked it.

The Swiss flag flying in the oddest of places.
The Swiss flag flying in the oddest of places.

And, above us all, the Mont Blanc floating in its haze like a ghostly apparition.
And, above us all, the Mont Blanc floating in its haze like a ghostly apparition.

 

Friday Fun: Chateaux near Lausanne

You could do worse than live in a chateau near Lausanne, like David Bowie did in the 1980s. Apparently, Switzerland was too quiet for his taste after his marriage to Iman, but if you like winter sports and vineyards, and you don’t get invited to celebrity parties anyway, you should be fine.

Chateau de Rochefort, from lausanne-tourisme.ch
Chateau de Rochefort – no, not that Rochefort, from lausanne-tourisme.ch

Chateau Bethusy, from lausanne.ch
Chateau Bethusy, from lausanne.ch

Chateau Beaulieu, now a public building in Lausanne. From lausanne.ch
Chateau Beaulieu, now a public building in Lausanne. From lausanne.ch

This one, however, is for sale: Chateau de Bavois, from knight-frank.com
This one, however, is for sale: Chateau de Bavois, from knight-frank.com

Don't fancy a tower? Don't worry, this one is for sale too. Chateau de Crans, from ch-agency.ch
Don’t fancy a tower? Don’t worry, this one is for sale too. Chateau de Crans, from ch-agency.ch

Chateau de Bursinel was uninhabited for years, but has now found a buyer who wants to resurrect it as a wine producer. From 24heures.com
Chateau de Bursinel was uninhabited for years, but has now found a buyer who wants to resurrect it as a wine producer. From 24heures.com

 

Friday Fun: Maisons, Maisons, Mansions

In other words, still more inspirational houses that once belonged to writers and artists in France. Most of them have been turned into museums, although the last one has had an interesting fate.

Alexandra David Neel, who introduced Tibetan Buddhism to France, lived and practised here. From dignes-les-bains.fr
Alexandra David Neel, who introduced Tibetan Buddhism to France, lived and practised here. From dignes-les-bains.fr

Anatole France is not widely read nowadays, but was a Nobel prize winner back in the 1920s. From stcyr-hommes-et-patrimoine.fr
Anatole France is not widely read nowadays, but was a Nobel prize winner back in the 1920s. From stcyr-hommes-et-patrimoine.fr

Picasso's last house on the Cote d'Azure. From nicematin.com
Picasso’s last house on the Cote d’Azure. From nicematin.com

Renoir's home in the south of France. From cagnes-tourisme.com
Renoir’s home in the south of France. From cagnes-tourisme.com

And how can one ever forget Monet's house and garden? From cape-tourisme.fr
And how can one ever forget Monet’s house and garden? From cape-tourisme.fr

Just in case you are thinking that these are all too good to be true (certainly without a talented gardener or two), below is a sad story of aspirations and loss.

The house that Francoise Sagan won and lost. From demain-ma-maison.com
The house that Franoise Sagan won and lost. From demain-ma-maison.com

The Manoir du Breuil near Calvados in Normandy belonged to Lucien Guitry, actor and father of the slightly more famous Sascha Guitry. Whenever Françoise Sagan spent the summer at Deauville in Normandy, she would look covetously at this house perched on a hill and occasionally be able to rent it for a few weeks. Then, one night in August 1958, she won a huge sum at roulette and the very next day she purchased this property.

Unfortunately, there was no happy ending. The house required major renovation works, particularly after it was damaged by fire, but Sagan was a compulsive gambler, buyer of fancy sports cars, drinker and drug addict, so there was never enough money left over. A huge backdated tax bill was the final nail in the coffin. She was forced to sell the house, although the generous friend who bought it allowed her to continue living in part of it until her death. The house has now been completely remodelled by the current owner, the CEO of Eurotunnel.