Taking a turn down a side street in Les Ormes, on the hunt for a different view of the chateau behind all its gates and gigantic outbuildings, we suddenly encountered this extravagantly romantic Belle Epoque villa.
|Villa Caroline as you encounter it by walking up rue Pierre d'Argenson.|
It was commissioned by Rodolphe Salis, the creator of the legendary Parisian cabaret Le Chat noir [link], for his mistress. Rodolphe Salis was the inventor of modern cabaret ie a nightclub where acts are introduced by a master of ceremonies (Salis himself) and the audience sits at small tables where they are served drinks. I think he must have been quite a character, and was famous for his disrespectful interactions with the audience. He was the son of a distiller who went to Paris to make his fortune. While he was waiting for the fortune to materialise through his various attempts at putting together artistic entertainments in establishments serving alcoholic beverages, he and his collaborators supported themselves by making religious artefacts.
|Street facade of the villa.|
Now Villa Caroline is owned by a pastry chef, whose family has owned it for 70 years. The name Villa Caroline is an hommage to the current owner's mother. It was originally called Villa Marie-Louise, after Rodolphe Salis' mistress. He came from Chatellerault and fell madly in love with one of his dancers, for whom he built this house in 1890. Inside, so I read, every surface is covered with images of the young woman -- even the ceiling. All the doors and windows have leaded lights, with one in the dining room depicting Rabelais, a character Salis identified with.
|Tile monogram on the side of the house, showing, I think, in black, an interwined L and R, and in blue, a reversed L on the left and an R on the right.|
The architect was Henri Deglane, who was the head of the architecture workshop at the Beaux Arts de Paris. He later designed the nave and avenue Winston Churchill facade of the Grand Palais, and the monument to Joan of Arc in Chinon.
|Presumably no one opens these shutters.|
In the garden, visible from the street, is a magnificent cedar tree.
|The rather splendid entry gates to the villa.|
It is privately owned and not opened to the public.
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