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Château De Villette Is The Ultimate French Vacation Experience

Château de Villette

Photo Credit: Bruno Ehrs

In 1999, Haute Living’s writer, Olivia Hsu Decker, turned the owner of the legendary Château de Villette, a shocking property outdoors the middle of Paris. Located Northwest of the town about 35 minutes from The Champs Elysées and 15 minutes from Versailles, Château de Villette was constructed within the 17th-century between 1660 to 1696.

The workforce who constructed Versailles, architect Francois Mansart (1598-1666) and his nephew, Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1646-1708), additionally designed Villette, a French historical monument. The splendid gardens have been designed by Andre Le Notre, who created the gardens at Versailles. Its basic and stylish design, which mimicked Versailles, earned Château de Villette the nickname of “Le Petit Versailles.”

A guest bed room

Photo Credit: Bruno Ehrs

Château de Villette was initially constructed for the Count of Aufflay, Jean Dyell II, who served as ambassador to Italy for King Louis XIV. In the 19th-century, the house owners Sophie de Grouchy and Marquess de Condorcet hosted many outstanding visitors at Villette. These included Thomas Jefferson, who was the American ambassador to France at the time, the Marquis de Lafayette, who helped George Washington battle the British in the course of the American Revolution, the poet and writer, Voltaire, and the physician and thinker, Pierre-Jean-Georges Cabanis.

When Hsu Decker purchased the grand estate, she turned part of a small group of individuals to call the illustrious château house. For 12 years, Hsu Decker loved the magnificent residence. With an octagonal grand salon, an imposing dining room with a carved stone buffet and wine cooling fountains, a chic music room with magnificent boiseries, a stately library, a stone lobby with grand staircase, and 200 acres of gardens, Villette is among the most vital and luxurious châteaux in France.

Olivia Hsu Decker

Photo Credit: Bruno Ehrs

Currently, Château de Villette has seven luxurious suites in the primary wing and seven further bedrooms in the left wing. Amenities embrace a heated outside swimming pool, absolutely outfitted fitness center, web, integrated audio and visual methods in every bedroom, absolutely outfitted skilled kitchen, safety system, ample parking, a chapel, helipad, and a full employees that takes care of meals, cleansing, and other providers.

During her tenure as proprietor, Hsu Decker renovated and adorned the area turning it into a star vacation rental where stars like Lenny Kravitz and John Travolta would loosen up on extended stays. She hosted prestigious visitors and occasions like retreats and cooking courses. In 2006, Sony Pictures and director Ron Howard rented Château de Villette to movie the film model of the best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. Howard needed to stay trustworthy to the ebook and film it at the actual locations referred to within the novel—one among these places was Villette. Over the years, dozens of flicks have been filmed at the château including the 1967 film Two For the Road starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney and French classics Le Comte de Monte Cristo and Casanova.

The eating room includes a pair of carved stone wine cooling fountains, one is pictured above to the left

Photo Credit: Bruno Ehrs

In 2011, Hsu Decker bought the château to its present proprietor who determined to revive the château to its unique glory. The owner worked with world-renowned French designer, Jacques Garcia, to comprehend the château’s €41 million transformation. Set in a French woodland park of roughly 200 acres, your complete property together with its in depth gardens, two lakes, 16th-century wine press, cascade fountain, glass house, and orangery has been renovated to the very best standards of high quality. Now the incredible vacation spot is rentable for vacations, weddings, photograph shoots, filming, seminars, and anything your heart wishes.

Last September, French historian Guillaume Picon wrote the guide Château de Villette: The Splendor of French Decor, revealed by Flammarion, that chronicles the historical past of the château. Swedish photographer, Bruno Ehrs, who focuses on structure and way of life imagery, showcases Jacques Garcia’s transformation. After the renovation was completed, Hsu Decker was the primary visitor invited to experience the brand new Château de Villette. Here she shares a glimpse of what it was wish to personal such a historic and opulent property.

The property has a lake

Photo Credit: Bruno Ehrs

Haute Living: You are a luxury property specialist within the  San Francisco Bay Area. What made you purchase a château in France?

Olivia Hsu Decker: I purchased Château de Grimaldi in Aix-en-Provence in 1995 once I visited a shopper in Provence. I had fun restoring it. I added a pool and tennis courtroom and adorned it. I operated it as a culinary retreat with vacation packages, cooking courses, and weddings. Three years later, I made a decision to buy a château within the Paris space because I really like the architectural great thing about Paris.

HL: How did you discover a château that was so near the town?

OHD: I visited a number of châteaux, but most of them have been removed from Paris within the Normandy space. Almost all of the 15th- and 16th-century châteaux have dark rooms with small home windows. I needed a 17th-century château with tall, majestic home windows and rooms with plenty of natural mild. I finally discovered photographs of Villette in my agent’s drawer and pursued it until I used to be capable of buy it. Friends and family thought I used to be crazy as a result of the renovation and upkeep of 1 château is enough to make you go bankrupt, so the considered proudly owning two châteaux appeared ridiculous. However, by Fall 1998, I used to be beneath contract to purchase Château de Villette.

A guest bedroom

Photo Credit: Bruno Ehrs

HL: You didn’t know any craftsmen or development staff in Paris and didn’t converse French. How did you deal with such a big venture?

OHD: I didn’t know anybody in Paris on the time! I had to cope with the French Historic Monument and the Chief Architect of France whose office is in Versailles. When they heard I bought Villette, they despatched a licensed letter demanding an official assembly to debate precisely what I was going to do to the property. Before me, Michael Jackson needed to buy the château and the French have been terrified that he would turn the château into Never Never Land. Since I’m Chinese, they feared I might give it an Asian makeover. I needed to get a reference letter from the seller of my Provence château. This letter assured the Chief Architect that I might protect Château Villette in 17th-century type as I did at Château Grimaldi. At the meeting, I promised a correct restoration with all the required repairs and upgrades, with traditional French design. Although I didn’t converse a lot French, I wrote loads of French checks throughout my possession!

HL: How long did the restoration course of take?

OHD: We started in October 1999. I gave my contractor a deadline with a grand opening celebration planned for April 1, 2000. In case the renovation was not accomplished in time, I might inform the friends that the social gathering was an April Fool’s Day joke. Luckily, the contractor specialized in historic château restoration and was excited once I hired him for Villette. He obtained all the things achieved on the important château within six months. The sensational opening night time social gathering was held as planned! The remainder of the château’s buildings took one other 18 months to restore.

The main bedroom

Photo Credit: Bruno Ehrs

HL: What modifications did you make through the renovation?

OHD: All the general public rooms needed to keep the same because of the Historic Monument designation. I reconfigured the bedrooms to make spaces to construct 20 new loos so that each of the 20 bedrooms would have an adjoining rest room. I created two service kitchens and reworked the grand kitchen. I restored the chapel, constructed a new tennis courtroom, and cleaned the 2 lakes. I installed a brand new heating system, WiFi, new electrical energy and plumbing. I repaired the mile-long stone walls that run across the château and up to date some outbuildings.

HL: What did you do with the château once you owned it?

OHD: It was rented for holidays, filming, weddings, birthday parties, trend shoots for Vogue and different magazines, advertising occasions for luxurious automotive manufacturers, and business retreats for Merrill Lynch and different corporations. I additionally taught cooking courses. Some renters have been long run—John Travolta and his household rented for three months. I additionally donated using the château to many charity events that supported nonprofit organizations.

The music salon

Photo Credit: Bruno Ehrs

HL: What was your most sudden expertise?

OHD: One day in 2003, I used to be contacted by a lady named Blythe. She advised me her husband, Dan Brown, liked Villette when he visited, so he used it as the situation for his new novel The Da Vinci Code. She asked if they might lease the château for the e-book launch social gathering. I used to be not conversant in Dan Brown and didn’t anticipate a lot out of the event. I informed her to remain in touch and ensure the rental dates. A couple of months later, The Da Vinci Code came out and instantly turned a sensational greatest seller, so Blythe cancelled the get together as the ebook didn’t want the promotion.

HL: How did the ebook change your life at the château?

OHD: A large portion of the story—from chapter 52 to 92—happened on the château. In 2004, Sony Pictures contacted me asking if they might movie the movie at Villette. Between the ebook and the film, Villette turned world famous. I had vacationers outdoors of my gate daily and dozens of journalists requesting interviews. For a couple of years, there have been Da Vinci Code excursions at the Louvre, the church Saint-Sulpice and Château de Villette. I met director Ron Howard a couple of occasions. I stayed through the filming and acquired to know the forged. Ian McKellen requested me to offer him a tour, and Tom Hanks informed me he grew up in Oakland before he moved to LA to pursue his appearing career. Sony Pictures invited me to the film’s premiere on the Cannes Film Festival. I walked the pink carpet with the director, the producers, the forged, and Dan Brown.

Another bed room

Photo Credit: Bruno Ehrs

HL: Did you have got another fascinating visitors?

OHD: I had some very fascinating renters and visitors. The Prime Minister of Russia underneath President Boris Yeltsin rented the home for his birthday celebration. In 2000, I had an sudden go to from Bernard Arnault and his wife, Helene. Arnault is the wealthiest man in France and proprietor of LVMH and lots of other luxury brands. He was fascinated about buying the château. I gave them a tour however advised them I was not ready to promote as I needed to finish my renovation. Another shock was Michael Jackson! He got here and sang in the grand salon to check the acoustics.

HL: Why did you promote the château? Do you remorse it?

OHD: When my associate Bill and I acquired the Sotheby’s International Realty franchise in 2007, my actual property firm in San Francisco expanded exponentially. I turned too busy to function the châteaux in France whereas I labored full time in the Bay Area. Also, one evening, I began feeling a sense of guilt while I hosted an event with visitors in Marie Antoinette-style costumes, opera singers and fireworks. I assumed to myself, ‘Wow, no wonder there was a French Revolution.’ There was additionally the strain of maintaining such a historic monument. I decided to go back to my simple life in the San Francisco Bay Area with no regret.

A newly put in formal French garden in entrance of the Andre Le Notre designed cascade fountain

Photo Credit: Bruno Ehrs

HL: What points of interest near Villette do you advocate to guests?

OHD: In Paris, you’ll find countless lovely sights and museums, not to mention fabulous designer purchasing and scrumptious restaurants. I beloved visiting the home and gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny and Vincent Van Gogh’s room on the Auberge Ravoux within the village of Auvers-sur-Oise. This is the place Van Gogh lived and died; it’s now a small museum, and you may go to the little cemetery where he was buried. Auberge Ravoux can also be an exquisite place for lunch. Normandy, considered one of France’s most recognizable regions, is about 80 minutes away. The seashores, the ocean, and Mont Saint-Michel are visited by greater than three million individuals annually.

HL: What do you think of Jacques Garcia’s updates?

OHD: I just like the extremely top quality and opulent particulars he added. Although some furnishings are too ornate for my style, they fit the château’s historic fashion. He installed the French garden and built the pool which I didn’t do, and these are unbelievable additions. He also mixed the 11 bedrooms in the primary château to create seven grand rooms and suites. I was advised every of those seven loos in the primary château value about €1 millon. Everything is incredibly refined and stylish.

Learn more about Villette by studying Picon’s ebook, “Château de Villette: The Splendor of French Decor,” which is obtainable on Amazon. Interested in renting the château? Visit: