Interview: Family heritage at Villa Monet in Normandy

With us, discover Villa Monet, an exceptional family home in Normandy, and its owner, Eléonore de La Grandière.
Interview: Family heritage at Villa Monet in Normandy
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Long before Deauville became the icon of the Normandy coast, Trouville was the favourite holiday spot of the aristocratic and Parisian intellectuals. It was during this golden age of Normandy, at the end of the 19th century, that two brothers built a tandem of neighbouring houses just a stone's throw away from the shore.


While the first brother imagined a large, practical family home, the second enjoyed entertaining and indulged in a few fantasies, including a magnificent ballroom. His vision was of a majestic neo-Gothic red-brick manor house, with superb half-timbering and an aura of mystery surrounding the seaside, an extraordinary house that would become the Villa Monet.

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Almost half a century later, in 1960, another colorful character was drawn to this house with its strong personality, Eléonore de La Grandière's grandfather, Louis Pauwels. A legendary journalist and talented writer, he was an emblematic figure of the French press, and notably founded the magazine Planète and Figaro Magazine. And it was precisely his immense talent with words that enabled him to acquire Villa Monet, which he bought thanks to the success of his bestseller, Le Matin des Magiciens, co-written with Jacques Bergier.



Louis Pauwels immediately made the house his own, with upstanding and solemn decor of solid wood with Flemish inspiration. From an early age, Eléonore spent summers with her family, staying with her grandfather in Normandy, until her mother inherited Villa Monet. Marie-Claire Pauwels, founder of Madame Figaro and writer, added her own personal touch, brightening up the atmosphere with floral wallpapers and English furniture, without abandoning the original furniture and paintings.

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Today, it's the third generation's turn to look after the family estate, with Eléonore, now a biographer, and her brother now co-owners of the villa. How do you take charge of a home of this stature, in which decades of brilliance and a multitude of vacations have left their mark? "Carefully," replies Eléonore with a smile. 

This house, where she spent long, sunny months with her grandfather, and every weekend in her mother's time, is inscribed in her DNA. Perhaps more than anywhere else, Éléonore is in her element at the Villa Monet, knowing every nook and cranny of it, scattered with books whose titles she could name by memory.



She inherited the property in 2011 and lived there full-time for over a year and a half. Although the trips to the train station of her teenage years are behind her, Éléonore never abandoned Villa Monet, so much so that she was still living there when she gave birth to her son

"Initially, we sorted through a lot of family photos," she says with a chuckle. Neither Eléonore nor her brother have any desire to transform their childhood home. On the contrary, they deeply appreciate its eclectic atmosphere, with its mix of inspirations and styles, where the smallest detail is like a 'madeleine de Proust' (something that brings back emotional memories).


Whether it's her grandfather's study with its incredible sea view and the smell of honeyed tobacco, the room affectionately nicknamed the "Bear Entrance", housing his vast collection of carved wooden bear statues, or her mother's pretty, colourful fabrics, Éléonore knows just how precious this clever mix of bric-a-brac is. Nevertheless, she took the liberty of adding a bookcase to the large living room, a natural innovation for a writer's home

For her and her brother, it's now time for the big jobs: renovating the roof, re-imagining the kitchen and fitting out the attic dormitory are their top priorities. Already boasting seven bedrooms, the Villa Monet can accommodate thirteen people and will soon be able to welcome 20 guests.


During the Easter holidays or the traditionalJuly 14th weekend, parents, children and grandchildren come to gather within its walls. "The future kitchen will be perfectly equipped and particularly spectacular," explains Éléonore, "thanks to the new through-holes overlooking the sea and the garden".

When we ask her about her ideal day at the villa, the suggestions are as abundant as the enthusiasm. The day always begins with a family breakfast of delicious pastries from Charlotte Corday, a local bakery. Then, depending on the season, her tribe divides its time between a roaring fire and a stroll by the sea, the yacht club just down the road or the nearby tennis court.

If you'd also like to relax on the beaches of Calvados, take a look at our selection of the most beautiful beaches in Normandy.


In the afternoon, everyone goes about their business, from lounging on the beach and playing foosball in the game room, to dinner on the garden terrace. Facing the sea, the adults dine with family and friends, while the cousins have fun with their feet in the sand, admiring the sunset.

Above all else, Villa Monet is a beautiful story of a family legacy. Eléonore hopes to be able to pass on the house and the childhood memories that accompany it to a fourth generation, a legacy more precious than any other, that of large families and shared rituals.


Eléonore de La Grandière's Trouville addresses:

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