It is indeed a strange feeling to set up camp in 200 square meters of museum-like grounds. The apartment where I’m spending the week in Provence with my family is not the usual ‘location de vacance’. Built in 1883 by the architect Pierre Aublé, the Villa Notre-Dame, dominating the old harbour of St Raphael, first belonged to the Russian prince Bariatinsky. It then passed into the hands of Leopold II, king of Belgium, who gave it to his daughter, princess Clementine, wife of Napoléon Victor Bonaparte, pretender to the throne of France. in 1905, the villa changed hands again, becoming the successive property of two Frenchmen, an artist and a businessman.
The current gérant is making every effort to preserve the building in its original makeup and restore everything to a high standard. The music room has become the salon, two smaller rooms have been converted into stylish bedrooms with mural paintings and antique furniture. One might say that the great Gatsby once stayed here before his West Egg palace ready to welcome him.
There might also be a ghost under the bed and a funerary urn posing as a charming vase.
Enough for words, let the photos speak for themselves. More will be uploaded au fur et à mesure.
Guidé par ton odeur vers de charmants climats,
Je vois un port rempli de voiles et de mâts
Encor tout fatigués par la vague marine,
Pendant que le parfum des verts tamariniers,
Qui circule dans l’air et m’enfle la narine,
Se mêle dans mon âme au chant des mariniers. (Ch. Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal, Parfum Exotique)