Book Review: Private Houses of France

Book Review: Private Houses of France

In fleeting moments of fancy, there are French houses that we can imagine ourselves happily living in. Who hasn’t pictured themselves, with gravel crunching underfoot, strolling up to the front door of a maison de maître in the Dordogne or a (swoon!) restored Renaissance petit château somewhere in the lush depths of the Loire Valley? Now, those lucky enough to own and enjoy some of France’s most spectacular private properties have opened their doors – some for the first time – to esteemed homes writer Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery and photographer Francis Hammond.

The stunningly appointed homes we’re privileged to snoop around herein are certainly an eclectic bunch – all haut de gamme, of course. They include Hubert de Givenchy’s Parisian hôtel particulier; the intricately decorated Château de Condé; a romantic Renaissance masterpiece in Normandy built for Diane de Poitiers, the Château d’Anet, and we also spend a day with France’s oldest hunt, at Château de Champchevrier.

What makes the book work so well – apart from the beautifully clean design and well-selected images – is that it manages to place each special home in its historical context as well as revealing the challenges and triumphs of those who now reside there.

Private Houses of France: Living with History, by Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery, photographed by Francis Hammond, published by Flammarion, €65

From France Today magazine

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