x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Your chance to live like Coco Chanel

The Life: Villa La Pausa, the fabulous former French Riviera home of the fashion icon and designer Gabrielle 'Coco' Bonheur Chanel, the founder of the Chanel brand, is for sale.

If you are the sort of person who spends your weekends browsing the Chanel Boutique in the Dubai Mall, then this could be the house of your dreams.

Villa La Pausa is the fabulous former French Riviera home of the fashion icon and designer Gabrielle "Coco" Bonheur Chanel, the founder of the Chanel brand. It is at this home that she entertained rich and famous guests when away from her Paris studio.

The seven-bedroom house and grounds close to the Italian border and the principality of Monaco in the south of France, was built by Mademoiselle Chanel in 1927 after one of her long-term lovers, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, gifted her the land.

When asked why she had not married the Duke, Chanel famously replied: "There have been several duchesses of Westminster. There is only one Chanel."

The villa, complete with panelled library, grand salon, sweeping staircases and a courtyard garden, has been partially replicated in the Dallas Museum of Art.

Designed by the architect Robert Streitz, the concept for the staircase and the patio is said to have been inspired by the orphanage in which Mademoiselle Chanel spent her youth. Credited with liberating women from the constraints of the corseted silhouette, Mademoiselle Chanel enjoyed the natural floral aromas from the beds of lavender and olive groves surrounding the villa so much that she even created the fragrance, Chanel No 28 - La Pausa - in its honour.

And the list of glamorous guests doesn't end there.

In 1953, a few years after the Second World War in which she was accused of being a Nazi spy, the designer sold La Pausa to publisher and literary agent Emery Reeves.

Reeves entertained the Riviera glitterati in his time at the house, including the likes of Greta Garbo, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, the Duke of Windsor, Aristotle Onassis and Sir Winston Churchill.

Churchill apparently spent a significant amount of time at the property and commandeered an entire wing of the first floor for his use. He is understood to have written and edited parts of his A History of the English-speaking People at La Pausa.

Now back on the market for an undisclosed price, property agent Knight Frank is marketing the property through its offices in Monaco, London and Paris.

Q&A

Is now a good time to buy in France?

As always it depends on what you buy and where. However, over the past year the number of overseas buyers in the country has rocketed as mortgage rates have hit a historic low.

Anyone looking to buy a French holiday home can secure cheaper mortgages today than they could last year, as lenders to non-residents have been cutting their interest rates.

Since the start of the year, three of the biggest French mortgage lenders – BNP Paribas, Crédit Foncier and BPI – have reduced their rates.

What’s happening to house prices?

French house prices, like those in many European countries, have been hit hard by the global financial crisis with prices in some areas down 40 to 50 per cent lower than the peak. However, the most recent reports from the National Federation of Estate Agents shows they are starting to rise again in some regions.

What about tax?

This could indeed be a problem for overseas buyers. Overseas owners of French homes now face higher capital gains taxes of 19 per cent when they sell due to the addition of a 15.5 per cent social charge. President François Hollande announced he would bring in the social charge for overseas owners as well last summer.

 

lbarnard@thenational.ae