Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Scandal-Ridden Royalty Slept Here

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).
(Le Moulin de Tuileries, via here)

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."
(Le Moulin de Tuileries, via here)

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.

And this:
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...

...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.
(La Maison des Amis, via here)

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?


pve design said...

What, are you clairboyant? I was just saying that I need a scandal- ridden spot for a summer escape. Love to go there for a week or more....

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

PVE: You have to go there! Your kids would love it, and it's only a half hour from Paris. I seriously want to book it for next summer... xx

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Pain. I am in actual physical pain. What a marvelous place to escape to.

By the way, since you so often rent Gargunnock, have you ever read The Guynd, by Belinda Rathbone? I think you'd love it!

Anthony said...

As a LT veteran I spotted this a few weeks ago. It is high on my list.

Have you stayed at Naulakha, Kipling's house in Vermont?

24 Corners said...

I missed you...thanks for the thoroughly engrossing escape! I won't be able to visit anytime soon but your post allowed a few seconds of imagining that I could and the pure enjoyment of learning about a spectacular place.
xo J~

DM said...

Gracious!! I think I need to pull myself off the floor!

This is post is amazing on so many levels! Love the Cecil Beaton picture (never seen that one!), love the celebataire, love the picture of edward gardening, love the scottish house, and love you for posting all of these delights!

Now excuse me whilst I book an S-R holiday post haste!

Kerry said...

Whoa...can I make this work while adding the cost of the airfare from Australia! Now there's something to aim for. I would love to stay in that little bit of history...thanks for the heads up.

The Down East Dilettante said...

wow. I'll never post again. This is a scoop, and way cool collection of pictures. *bows*

Anonymous said...

we MUST book it. I'm so down for a getaway!!!! Pretty please

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa -

How about a "bloggers" week or two there?

i double dog dare

donna baker said...

Me, and can you suggest the best time of year for said vacation? Only please don't make it winter.

columnist said...

Gargunnock House is but a spit away from where I often spend summers - between Comrie and Dunblane. Hope you have better summer weather than we had last year.

jules @ The Diversion Project said...

what a fabulous idea, that would make a lovely destination.

perhaps perchance we should have a little blogging soiree, how fun would that be?!

willow said...

That pic of Edward working in the garden is amazing. Book it? I'm already there. (in my dreams)

(my word verification: daling)

Julie Anne Rhodes said...

LOVE IT! Now I want to get a gaggle of friends together and all go stay there, but not until I have acquired one of your fabulous embroideries. A girl has to get her priorities right!

PS. Marlene Dietrich was my neighbor in 18 Ave. Montaigne, Paris. This was before the intrusive paps of today... I would wake to my cup of coffee, and watch cranes lifting photographers desperate to snap a photo of the reclusive actress (the last 4 years of her life she never left the buiilding) outside my kitchen window.

Anonymous said...

I've only recently discovered your blog and your amazing embroideries and I have to say I love all of it!

A little off the subject, but someone else had commented (sorry, can't remember the name) that they thought you should use one of your embroideries for the heading of your blog and that started my head spinning. Perhaps you've already posted about this, but I was wondering if you have thought about doing a whole line of t-shirts, scarves, totes, notepapers, etc. using your art work? You are onto something HUGE here with this and I can see you and your work becoming as iconic as Andy Warhol and his Campbell soup cans.
Meanwhile, I will be saving my pennies for a lovely original ...

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Pamela Terry and Edward: I know. I am in pain too. :) And haven't read that book...will check it out...thank you, lovely one! xx

Anthony: Haven't stayed at Naulakha...have you?

24 Corners: So happy I could provide a little romanticism for you. Writing the post allowed me the same dreamy escape. :)

Daniel-Halifax: I think you have to stay there too.
It's SOOO up your alley, non? xx

Kerry: Save your pennies and go in the off-season. I'm sure it's still gorgeous.

Down East Dilettante: Thank you for the lovely comment. But the world needs get posting! xx

royalapothic: You need to do a line of candles about this, don't you think????

Susan's Snippets: Don't even tempt me!

donna baker: Honestly, I don't think there's a bad time to go there. I bet each season is lovely in its own way.

columnist: Seriously? You live near Gargunnock? You should come by when we're there!

jules@thediversionproject: Love this idea. How about 14 bloggers rent the entire place and then we throw a big party for our readers?!

willow: So funny about that word about serendipitous!

Julie Anne Rhodes: I would love to book it with you. And I can't believe that Marlene Dietrich story! You must tell me every detail next time I see you. xx

Anonymous: Thank you for your amazing comment. Wheels are spinning... xx

LiveLikeYou said...

What a great service, right up my alley. So glad to have read this post!!!

Anthony said...

No, Lisa, I've not stayed at Naulakha, yet.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I swear you just don't know how to have any fun ;)

I would seriously love to stay in either place. I just dragged my husband in here to have a look...he sat down and read your entire post!

Unknown said...

I say we all go!

A Super Dilettante said...

My dear Lisa, what a post! I love to see these pictures of the house where Duke and Duchess of Windsor once lived. Like you after reading Diana Mosely's biography of Duchess of Windsor, her arch intelligent descriptions of their houses left a deep imagination. Now when I see the pictures you took, I thought the house was just as I imagined it. Thank you my dear xxx

Anonymous said...

Ah, this brings back really wonderful, sort of lazy, hazy, memories. My parents lived in London 20 years ago and visits then and after often included a LT gem. I remember one trip drinking Pimms on the roof of The Prospect Tower in Kent and enjoying the end of the day. It was a tiny tower at the edge of old cricket pitch that had been reclaimed by sheep. Their baaas and bleats providing the soundtrack. Your blog is so wonderful at conjuring up all of those sights and sounds!

Now, on a separate note...I awoke to see YOU and your lovely home on the front page of the LAT home section. What a lovely piece. You should post it here so all of the out of towners can see!

Laurie Powers said...

Love the photos, especially of Liz and Dick. And congratulations on a great article this morning in the Times, from another L.A. Anglophile. Glad I found you!

Maxsmom said...

I just found your blog (thanks LA Times) and love it.
I also live in LF with my husband and son. I'll try to check out your show. Best of luck!

Display homes Melbourne said...

The place is beautiful!
It's all worth going there.
Awesome pictures!

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