À Bientôt, France!

À bientôt, France!

July is a month marked by celebrations and reflections on historical moments, whether it be through the sparkles of fireworks on the 4th in America or a jolly Christmas-in-July party. There are multiple festivities scattered throughout the 31 days, occasions to help us through the mid-year slump, and over the hill, towards ushering in a new year.


Of these, Bastille Day is on the 14th of July - a day of celebration considering the historical context and the revolutionary changes that occurred because of it. Perusing France and its cities on this day, you are surrounded by beauty and elegance, so much so that you may forget the revolution that filled almost the entirety of the streets. In a tribute to French history and Bastille Day, join us on a virtual trip to the country of fine wine and buttery breakfast pastries. Explore the villas, architecture and adventures that encapsulate the beauty of France...



GARGOYLES & GOTHIC 

The architecture of this great country has a rich and beautiful history. Most notably of course is the widely recognizable Gothic style. Originally known as FrenchWork, the style of sharp pointed spires, and towering height, is a significant period of classic architecture. While not as animated and characterized as Disney’s, leering sculptures of vicious Gargoyles are also significant elements of this style. The most infamous example being the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres

The architecture of this great country has a rich and beautiful history. Most notably of course is the widely recognizable Gothic style. Originally known as FrenchWork, the style of sharp pointed spires, and towering height, is a significant period of classic architecture. While not as animated and characterized as Disney’s, leering sculptures of vicious Gargoyles are also significant elements of this style. The most infamous example being the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de  Chartres.

Image from culture trip


OH SO ORNATE AND OPULENT 

Other notable French architecture is the French adoption of Italian Baroque. This particular style of building is seen in the Palais du Luxemburg, and is easily distinguishable by the prominence of the central wing, and the significantly smaller side wings. The grandeur of the Roccoco era, in its ornate designs, is the descendant of Baroque. While as detailed and decorative as the Baroque era, the Roccoco style focused more heavily on asymmetry in its design. As one of the last truly ornate eras of French history, it is no surprise that this was an era of design that coincided with the reign of King Louis XIV, a monarch known for his love of opulence.

Image from Shutterstock


A CASTLE OF YOUR VERY OWN

And speaking of the architecture of the revolution, the dream of owning your own chateau, fitted with a spiral tower, is now within reach. There is a mere 700,000 square-meter property for sale that could be exactly what you’re looking for. Having stood uninhabited for almost a century, this minor palace is a feast for lovers of history, French opulence and wallpaper. 

Image from Messy Nessy Chic

The house as you see it today was only built in the 18th century, to appease King Louis XVI who at the time complained that his friend's humble abode was just not suited for a King's stay. And as we know, King Louis XVI was but a humble man, who didn’t ask for all that much… And so construction began, resulting in the grand crescent shaped building you can call your own today. Having been a museum from the 1940’s until 2014, you can be assured that the ghouls and ghosts are very accustomed to foot traffic by now, and will hardly pay attention to your moving company or dinner guests.

Image from Messy Nessy Chic


However if modernity is more your taste, and you aren’t quite ready to commit to being a homeowner of a small palace just yet, then take a tour of the beautiful chateaus and villas that France has on offer.

The French Riviera is known for its picturesque coastline and luxury shopping. And Alang Alang, a villa in the city of Cannes, is nothing short of a palatial. Overlooking the blue expanse of the ocean, this villa is the epitome of pristine relaxation. With 8 bedrooms, a fully equipped gym, as well as a private chef, personal butler and concierge services, Alang Alang is an escape so luxurious you may find yourself not wanting to leave. If a wine cellar, state of the art cinema, or expansive gardens is not quite enough to convince you to run away to Cannes, the selection of on-site spa treatments may tempt you - yes, you can be pampered to your heart's content without having to leave the property.

Images from Icon Private Collection

Images from Icon Private Collection


Image from Icon Private Collection

If escaping to the countryside is more suited to your taste, look no further than the incredible La Bergerie Terre Blanche. With the sophistication of a classic countryside villa merging with the elegance of contemporary, state of the art internal finishings, La Bergerie is widely regarded as one of the finest privately-owned villas in Europe. Perfect all year round, this piece of heaven is tucked away, waiting for you to fall in love with everything it has to offer. Despite La Bergerie’s stunning rural location, with uninterrupted Provencal views, it is close to quaint local towns, villages and world-renowned restaurants. The buzz of the Cote d’Azur is also within easy reach for a beach-club luncheon, a day on a yacht, or a trip to the Riviera’s designer boutiques. 



Image from CDUC Estates

Nestled into the Loire Valley landscape, the exquisite Château du Coudreceau boasts solace and respite. Generations of discerning guests have retreated to this Château since it was first built in 1775 during the reign of Louis XVI, the last King of France. The Château and its grounds were developed by Francois Seurrat du Colombier, a wealthy merchant from the City of Orléans, to undertake bee-keeping and silkworm cultivation. The heritage remains firmly embedded within the estate with many of the trees still standing from their original plantation, having seen many fortunes, generations and grand occasions. Surrounded by these forests of intricate history, the property exudes true French architecture and design.  

Image from CDUC Estates

The property offers a spa, a private gym, as well as a meticulously crafted world-class golf course that intertwines through the vast woods, where you can perfect your swing. While away the day on any of the fourteen holes, without the concern of tee times or club rules. A nearby private executive airport and round-the-clock staff service are just some of the features of the luxurious Château du Coudreceau, steeped in a rich culture of French joie de vivre. 

But the beauty of France extends past it’s aesthetic architecture and luxurious Chateaus. The country boasts a wide array of intriguing, and beautiful, spots steeped in history. 


THE PENTHOUSE OF PARIS

Everyone is familiar with the iconic Eiffel Tower. The tall iron structure draws tourists to the streets of Paris year after year. But, while you stand below staring up at the twinkling lights, or sit on the lawn with a flute of bubbles, you might not realize that the very tip of the tower was once a home, to none other than Gustave Eiffel himself. Right at the very top of the city’s treasured token sits a cozy apartment, decorated as any Parisian apartment would be. With paisley wallpaper and wooden furniture, this cozy space holds a prized position with panoramic views of the city below. While it’s now a museum, Monsieur Eiffel once used the apartment to entertain his finest guests - including Thomas Edison.

Images from History.com & CN Traveler

Image from History.com

Everyone is familiar with the iconic Eiffel Tower. The tall iron structure draws tourists to the streets of Paris year after year. But, while you stand below staring up at the twinkling lights, or sit on the lawn with a flute of bubbles, you might not realize that the very tip of the tower was once a home, to none other than Gustave Eiffel himself. Right at the very top of the city’s treasured token sits a cozy apartment, decorated as any Parisian apartment would be. With paisley wallpaper and wooden furniture, this cozy space holds a prized position with panoramic views of the city below. While it’s now a museum, Monsieur Eiffel once used the apartment to entertain his finest guests - including Thomas Edison.

Image from CN Traveler

If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, there’s a spot that will keep your eyes glued to the sky.


Nothing can truly describe the feeling you get when you first set foot in Sainte-Chapelle, a small royal chapel just a short walk from Notre Dame. It is arguably the finest example of High-Gothic or Rayonnant architecture in the world. Indeed, Sainte-Chappelle is hard to beat if you’re looking for a spot that will inundate you with color, beauty, and pure artistry. 

Image from Paris Perfect

Beyond a narrow staircase that leads you into the upper room, you will find yourself standing in rays of light and color. Immersed almost entirely within a kaleidoscope of stained glass. With 1,113 biblical scenes standing at 15 meters high, you’ll be short of breath just taking in the incredible beauty around you. Built in the 13th century over a shockingly short period of only 7 years, Sainte-Chapelle was constructed to house some of the most precious Christian relics. This is said to include the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus Christ as he was crucified. Commissioned by Louis IX as part of his royal palace, a building like this containing such revered objects, demonstrated the immense power and wealth of France to the rest of Europe. 

Image from Paris Perfect

It highlighted Paris as a major destination for Christian pilgrims and underscored its already-dominant role in the dissemination of the Gothic style throughout Europe. Art History textbooks today still cite France as being the originator of the style. It’s hard to believe that this beautiful structure is still standing, yet through it, the embodiment of the work of professional restorations, constant attention, continued care and highly skilled craftsmanship is apparent. The structure is well looked after, known as one of the most heavily restored monuments in modern-day France.

There is no doubt that France is a country brimming with culture and history - whether as the home of the iconic Coco Chanel, or the origin of your beloved merlot from a Bordeux vineyard. Any exploration within the vast and varied land contained within its borders, to the countryside or cityscape, will be an experience like none before. Surrounded by beauty at every turn, you won’t be able to stop yourself from humming “La Vie En Rose” while strolling down the streets or cobbled lanes.



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