Ah-Château de Groussay- one of the highlights of my trip to Paris last fall.
The château is about an hour drive from Paris in the town of Montfort L'Amaury. It has an impressive history and is now owned by Jean-Louis Remilleux. Once owned by Carlos de Beistegui.
Built in 1815 for the Duchess of Charost, the daughter of Madame de Tourzel, the governess of the children of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. It was subsequently modified during the Second Empire by a Russian princess.
Carlos de Beistegui, who never married, purchased the 74-acre estate in 1939 and proceeded to enhance it by adding wings to the house and building follies (including my favorites of the tartar tent and Chinese pagoda). He died in 1970 at the age of 74 without a will. The château was then taken by Carlos's nephew Juan. It is said that Juan disliked his uncle and he never invited an of his uncle's friends to the château after he inherited it. Juan de Beistegui was married to a daughter of the Duc de Rohan and spent weekends with his six children.
A few of my favorites:
The two-story library with its twin spiral staircases and thousands of leather-bound books. This room so impressed Cecil Beaton that he used it as the model for Henry Higgins’ library in “My Fair Lady.”
The 150-seat theater was inspired by the Margravine Opera House in Bayreuth, Germany. Beistegui added the wing to the château. On opening night of the theater he presented a play in which the actors onstage portrayed guests in the audience.
The tartar tent, made of painted metal, emulates the 18th-century tent at Drottningholm Palace in Sweden and was designed in the 1950s by Emilio Terry. The interior has blue-and-white tiles, to cover walls, floors, and even ceilings.
The Chinese pagoda
Jean-Louis Remilleux (the current owner), who hosted us for wonderful treats and champagne.
Of course, I am so interested in design history that I think that no discussion of de Beistegui is complete without the mention of his 1951 ball at the Labia Palace in Venice (a remarkable frescoed ballroom painted between (1746-47) by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, with decorative works in trompe l'oeil by Gerolamo Mengozzi-Colonna). The palace was bought in 1948 and restored and refurbished with priceless antiques and tapestries. Sadly, after his stroke, he sold the palace and the contents. I can only dream and wonder what the ball in Venice was like. It is one of the most famous - if not the most famous - balls of the 20th century. Invitations were sent out six months before the event so that people had time to make arrangements and have their costumes made (This launched the career of the Venetian fashion designer Pierre Cardin, who designed about thirty of the costumes worn by members of the "dolce vita" who attended). In 1951, gas rationing was still in effect from the war. A boat and train to Venice took five days! I am sure glad that it won't take five days to get to Venice for me in May- but sometimes flying from San Francisco to Europe can seem like a really long time.
Elle Decor featured Groussay in the April issue with the Van Cleef & Arpels "Les Jardins" new collection.
Oh to have been there for the party to see Isabelle Huppert, Christian Louboutin and Catherine Deneuve (gasp...hold me!)...