Saturday, March 10, 2012

A French Country Weekend

Chateau de Groussay
Not far from us is the fantastic Chateau de Groussay. I choose the word "fantastic" because I venture to say it is unlike any chateau anywhere in the world. Its gardens are sprinkled with follies, its interiors once an eclectic mix of the gorgeous and the garish.

We first visited the chateau in 1999 when it was for sale by Sotheby's. In tents on the grounds the contents of the interior were on offer. Those alone reportedly sold for $26.5 million. Yesterday I was told Groussay is back on the market.

The chateau was built in 1815 by the duchesse de Charest, a daugher of Louise Elisabeth de Croy-Havré, marquise de Tourzel, the governess for the children of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

The 250 seat theater.

In 1939 Groussay was purchased by one of the stars of Cafe Society at the time, the aesthete Carlos de Beistegui who enlarged the main structure and with the professional assistance of Emilio Terry built the follies in which we've been told over the years great folly was had by many a guest and visitor to chez Beistegui.

Dominique Dunne wrote a profile of Beistegui for Vanity Fair in 1998 entitled All That Glittered.

Cecil Beaton's inspiration for the Henry Higgins' library in My Fair Lady was the Groussay library above.

The Chinese pagoda.

Tente Tartare
Beistegui re-landscaped the grounds and created gardens inspired by the Anglo-Chinese gardens of the 18th century and by the 18th century Cooper tents at Hagaparken in Sweden. It is here that he strategically placed his follies: a Chinese pagoda, a labyrinth, a theater of verdure, a Tartar tent and an observation tower.

Imagine living in what was reportedly one of the great playgrounds for the rich and famous in the mid 20th century.

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