I just received an email this morning from The Landmark Trust that's sent me into a swooning spiral of joy.
For those of you unfamiliar with The L.T., it's an English company that rents out gorgeous heritage buildings to enjoy as if they were your own. It's a genius way of preserving historic properties that would otherwise be torn down, as well as giving plebes like me the chance to play country squiress for a week. I've rented from them many times and each stay has been a magical experience.
Well, The Landmark Trust has now expanded their offerings to include houses in France, and they have obtained an incredibly fabled property (hence my heart palpitations).
As of today, they are accepting bookings at "Le Moulin de Tuilerie" which just happens to be the former country weekend residence of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
(Le Moulin de Tuileries, Gif-sur-Yvette, France)
The property features three separate buildings, of which the Moulin is the largest. It sleeps ten and was the Windsor's main residence (and the only house they ever owned).
The welcoming grey stone house is surrounded by grounds that open miraculously to views of the valley beyond. Of course, the house has been redecorated since the Windsors lived here, but apparently the Duchess's jeu d'esprit still presides from the wall of the large first floor living room, which states, "I'm not the miller's daughter, but I have been through the mill."
According to Diana Mosely (one of the legendary Mitford sisters), the sitting room "was a very cheerful room; I always thought it was the place to have fun and a good time." Here's a photo I found via the fabulous An Aesthete's Lament which shows The Duke and Duchess doing just that, circa 1965:
Some scoop from the Landmark website:
The Windsors entertained the glitterati of the 1950s and 1960's [at Le Moulin] -- Maria Callas, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Cecil Beaton and others.
Edward was especially captivated by the site and commissioned English garden designer Russell Page to design the gardens, which he tended himself and whose layout remains today.
Here's a photo of Edward working in the garden at Le Moulin, circa 1960...
(via An Aesthete's Lament)
...and the grounds as they look today.
(via The Landmark Trust)
There are also two other buildings on the site, and each can be rented separately. There's the ironically named "La Célibataire" ("bachelor's quarters"), where Cecil Beaton stayed whenever he visited the Windsors. This romantic little hideaway sleeps two and features an open plan ground floor, a large bedroom tucked underneath the roof timbers and a 1950's hip bath.
(La Célibataire, via here)
Lastly, there's "La Maison des Amis", which sleeps four and according to the website, has "a panelled interior more elegant than the honest external walls might suggest." I'm intrigued.
For photos on what the interior of the house looked like when the Windsors lived there, An Aesthete's Lament has done a lovely post HERE.
Prices are per house and vary wildly according to the season.
A few examples follow:
Le Moulin (sleeps 10):
(£990 for a week in January; £3,550 for a week in August)
Le Célibataire (sleeps 2):
(£784 for a week in October; £539 for a week in March)
La Maison des Amis (sleeps 4):
(£1,523 for a week in September; £1,069 for a week in December; £1,904 for a week in July)
This summer, Piero, Luca and I are returning to Gargunnock House in Scotland with an assortment of good friends and their children. It will be our fourth time renting this Landmark property...
(Front of Gargunnock House, via here)
...but I have to say the Moulin de Tuilerie is a pretty enticing possibility for 2011.
Who's going to book it first?