There is an elegant Normandy villa so perfectly designed, set so well above a green meadow garden edged with trees, that every photograph of it is a success.
It’s image regularly appears in blogs, tweets and across Tumblr representing the Norman ideal. It is the Villa Strassburger, located just a short, pleasant walk from the Deauville racetrack.
Not Villa Strassburger
Our postcard is not of this romantic Belle Epoque masterpiece, is of the Villa Rottenberg. A building that does not appear to have the same advantages. Curiously the two share something significant in their history.
Villa Rottenberg in Dives-sur-Mer was built for a jeweller, M. Rottenberg. We can only imagine the jewellery he created.
So that is what ‘eclectic’ means
The design of his home has (we are assured) references to Baroque, Gothic, Renaissance , Louis XIV and Louis XV architecture. There are certainly roofs at very angle, decoration on every surface and twiddly bits inserted at every opportunity.
Our Villa cannot claim a position of splendid isolation overlooking Boudin’s coast of sunsets. It is tucked away on a dusty side street, competing with homes of every shape and size.
Previous owners cheerfully sold off it’s green acres but like Villa Strassburger it does stand out, fearless in the face of the quiet good taste demanded by so much architecture today.
We notice that a small turret at the front near the steps has disappeared since our postcard photo was taken. An attempt to simplify? Or simply dry rot?
Unlike Villa Strassburger Villa Rottenberg rarely appears in blogs, tweet or tumblr. We may try to change that.
The mysterious link
The mysterious link? Well if you look at a back view of the Villa Strassburger it may become clear.
Gone are the smooth green timbers and graceful lines. In their place are stone flourishes and rather a lot of irregular shaped windows. Recognise those many angled roofs? It is still lovely but also oddly familiar.
For the Villa Strassburger is the sister of Villa Rottenburg. They share an architect, Georges Pichereau from Caen.
Two very different fortunes
Georges created our villa in Dives-sur-Mer with the help of René – Jacques Baumier (son of Jacques Baumier, an architect with his own wiki page!) so he shares responsibility for Villa Rottenburg’s distinctive charms. Glorious Villa Strassburger is all his own.
The Villas have experienced very different fortunes. Villa Strassburger, after a century of hosting excellent parties for it’s owners the Rothschilds and Strassburgers (American horse racing fanatics), was gifted to the town of Deauville.
When Deauville hosted the G8 in 2011 Carla Bruni-Sarkozy hosted a lunch for the wives in it’s stately rooms.
Down along the coast in Pierre-sur-Dives the Villa Rottenberg has been divided up into apartments that can be rented weekly by anyone at all.
A vote for Villa Rottenberg!
We applaud both villa’s their complex designs and celebrate that microcosm of time when a summer home on the north Normandy coast was an aspiration for the newly wealthy and an essential for the already rich. Those fortunate ancestors’ only requirement for their homes was that they clearly displayed success. How well they succeeded.
Do we love Villa Rottenberg (now sometimes called ‘Les Bossettes’) a little more for it’s effervescent flamboyance?
Creativity crossed with money can produce some truly extraordinary moments.
We love them both.