Belle Epoque Estate Lists in France’s Fragrant Perfume Capital
Kanebridge News
Share Button

Belle Epoque Estate Lists in France’s Fragrant Perfume Capital

The eight-bedroom villa asking €3.4 million occupies a hillside site above the old town of Grasse, filled with olive groves and citrus trees, and offering dramatic views of the Bay of Cannes

By CHAVA GOURARIE
Fri, Jun 21, 2024 8:27amGrey Clock 4 min

A historic Belle Epoque villa in the Provencal town of Grasse, known as the perfume capital of the world, listed for €3.4 million (US$3.64 million) earlier this month.

Known as La Rivolte, the eight-bedroom villa occupies a 1.8-acre hillside site above the old town of Grasse, filled with olive groves and citrus trees, and offering dramatic views of the Mediterranean Sea. The city is still filled with perfumeries, and surrounded by flower fields growing jasmine, iris, geraniums, orange blossom and roses, that supply some of the world’s most well-known perfumes, including Chanel No. 5.

The villa was built in the 1880s at the height of Grasse’s renown as the centre of the perfume industry, and had a string of prominent owners and residents, including wealthy Grasse perfumer and the first Russian to win a Nobel Prize for Literature.

 

Most recently, it was owned by the Usborne family, who purchased it in the 1990s. The London-based family spent many summers in the South of France, but are looking to sell now that patriarch Peter Usborne has passed, according to his son, Martin Usborne.

“It has a very romantic and a very unique character that when we looked for houses to buy, this one jumped out as being incredibly authentic and with incredible views extending over the whole Bay of Cannes,” Usborne said. “We fell in love with it.”

The home, which spans 3,267 square feet over several floors, maintains its original charm with tiled floors, Juliet balconies, and large windows to take in the views, along with ample terraces, gardens and a pool deck.

Peter Usborne, the owner of children’s book publisher Usborne Books, bought the property from a perfumer and renovated it in keeping with the traditional provencal style. Like the owners before them, they rented out the home and used it themselves, which meant it was kept up to date.

“The property is really beautiful with a magical view to the seas, but not a ten minutes walk from the old city of Grasse,” said Tamara Bourdin of Côte d’Azur Sotheby’s International Realty, who is marketing the property with Tarik Bouchenak.

The villa’s unique yellow-ochre facade holds a clue to its history. It matches the nearby Grand Hotel Grasse, a neoclassical masterpiece built around the same time, when the city was gaining some acclaim as a winter destination to rival more popular resort towns like Cannes and Nice.

In fact, the man who built the house, a jeweller named Gustav Roquier, purchased the site from the Cresp family, a prestigious local perfuming dynasty in 1882, likely as an investment—with the intention of renting it out to wealthy vacationers, according to Ruth Midgley, a local historian hired by the Usborne family. (It was described as an “alluring and comfortable villa aimed at winter visitors,” in a local newspaper in 1903.)

There is some reason to believe that Roquier might have commissioned the same Cannes architects who built the Grand Hotel to design his own villa, given some of their similarities, but there’s no direct evidence, per Midgely.

Roquier had good reason to believe in the value of his property. Soon after La Rivolte was completed, Baroness Alice de Rothschild built her own—much more extravagant—home on an adjacent lot, called Villa Victoria in honour of her friend, the British Queen, according to the historian and the Rothschild Archives. And in 1891, the Grand Hotel hosted Queen Victoria herself when she came to visit her friend Alice.

The property stayed in the Roquier family for four generations, until 1949, and it was alternately rented out or utilized by the family. Among its notable tenants was Ivan Bunin, the first Russian writer to win a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1933, for an autobiography written while he lived at the villa. “We often get stray Russian tourists coming up the drive because it was the home of the first Nobel-prize winning Russian author,” said Usborne. “He is a household name in Russia.”

Grasse never did become the tourist destination Roquier had hoped for, but it draws plenty of visitors both for its Mediterranean climate and old-world charm, as well as its continuing legacy as the perfume capital of the world.

While the Usbornes have many happy memories there, it’s become too much for Martin and his sister, both of whom are also in publishing, to keep up with the maintenance, he said.

“It needs a refresh inside, but the actual owners used to rent it for like 10 or 15 years, so the property is fully equipped,” said Bourdin. “All the bedrooms are ensuite so it’s well equipped for modern living, but it needs a bit of makeup inside.”



MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Property
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Officially List Their Massive Beverly Hills Mansion for $68 Million
By BECKIE STRUM 12/07/2024
Property
The faster pathway to building wealth is no longer how much you earn, investors believe
By Bronwyn Allen 11/07/2024
Local
Property of the Week: 8 Robertson Street, Toorak
By Josh Bozin 10/07/2024
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Officially List Their Massive Beverly Hills Mansion for $68 Million

The celebrity power couple are selling the 12-bedroom, 24-bathroom home barely a year after buying it

By BECKIE STRUM
Fri, Jul 12, 2024 2 min

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have officially put their massive Los Angeles mansion on the market for $68 million.

The lavish Beverly Hills property hit listing sites on Thursday, months after rumours began that the couple, who are reportedly estranged , were shopping the home around only a year after buying it for nearly $61 million.

The roughly 5-acre property—which is in a gated community and spans a massive 38,000 square feet—includes an indoor sports court with an adjacent gym and games room, according to the listing with Santiago Arana of the Agency. The firm declined to comment.

Lopez and Affleck paid $60.8 million for the compound in 2023.
Google Maps

Built in 2000, the house has 12 bedrooms and a whopping 24 bathrooms. The resort-sized property has the amenities to match, including a V-shaped pool with views over the surrounding hills, a detached two-bedroom guardhouse and a 5,000-square-foot guest penthouse, according to the listing.

Listing images of the house show that Lopez and Affleck have spent the past year warming up what were fairly white-washed interiors when they purchased the home. There’s now a rich, green-painted dining room, hardwood floors and carpeted over cold, polished-stone flooring.

The couple, who got married in 2022 after reuniting some 20 years after they called off their engagement in the early 2000s, purchased the megamansion following a house hunt that went on for several months, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

Representatives for Lopez, 54, and Affleck, 51, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Property
China’s Housing Market Woes Deepen Despite Stimulus
By REBECCA FENG 18/06/2024
Property
Property of the Week: 5903/1A Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo
By Josh Bozin 19/06/2024
Money
Global Charities Say Using Companies’ Carbon Offsets to Lower Emissions Undermines Climate Targets
By YUSUF KHAN 04/07/2024
0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop