A French Chateau

Earlier this week I wrote a blog post about a renowned architect and his departure from the historical house rooted in local vernacular and into modern territory. Funny enough, today’s post is about a story that in many ways does the opposite. Celebrated American conductor and harpsichordist William Christie made France his home soon after graduating from college and has (successfully) devoted his entire career to the revival of  17th and 18th -century French baroque music. After discovering the Vendee region and renting several homes over the years, he came across Le Batiment, a beautiful yet unlivable ruin.

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Exterior

Built in the 1500s for a Protestant aristocratic family, the house had become over time a tenant farm with cows and chickens inhabiting its palatial rooms. When Christie purchased the building in 1985, it was in a total state of neglect, but filled with fabulous fireplaces and remarkable architectural details. The house was also on the national list of historical monuments and hence his labor of gently restoring it to glory began. He worked closely with local artisans and craftsmen, as well as a state architect to supervise the restoration project.

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Living

For the interiors, Christie collaborated with Nantes-based artist Francois Roux. Using vegetable pigments in the original 16th-century painting technique, Roux created colorful trompe l’oeil wall art throughout the home. The colors on the walls are beautifully complemented with antique fabrics, velvet and linen in vibrant hues,  and plush upholsteries.

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Living Room

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Dining Room

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Entryway

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Kitchen

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Armoire

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Stairs

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Red Gallery

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Hallway

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Upstairs

In the home’s bedrooms, all canopy beds have been custom-made following original 17th-century furniture from the neighboring Chateau Chenonceau.

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Bedroom

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Bedroom Chair

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Guest Bedroom

It took time and dedication, not to mention patience to achieve something this great. Over a period of 25 years, Christie created not only a fabulous home filled with 17th and 18th century details but he has created remarkable gardens as well. In fact, his gardens have earned him the highest recognition gardeners can hope to achieve in a lifetime. Listed as a Jardin Remarquable, the grounds started from scratch. For years,  Christie had studied and sketched famous gardens and when the opportunity to create one of his own appeared his research gained life.

“The garden is very personal and breaks all the rules,” Christie says, “but I am immensely happy and proud of it. I spend as much time as I can here. I don’t need to take vacations anywhere else.”

“Much to Christie’s astonishment, his green masterpiece was recognized as such by the French government in 2006, when it was declared a Jardin Remarquable, the botanical equivalent of a national monument, and the first time a creator has been so honored during his lifetime since Monet and his Giverny.” –  via House Beautiful

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Window

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Cloister Garden

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Red Garden

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Shed

Cafe Design | French Chateau | Topiaries

{photography by Simon Watson}

Cafe Design William Christie

{photography by Michel Szabo}

Visiting this home if only virtually, creates a state of atemporality. Outside of time and place, the passion of one man to revive the beauty of days past is truly inspiring.  The gardens are now available to the public so if you’d like to plan a visit, you can find the details here.

Have a great day!



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  1. September 7, 2017 / 10:33 am

    What a huge undertaking! Beautiful!

    • Eva Contreras
      September 7, 2017 / 6:14 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth! The work of a lifetime…