Interview: Louis Albert de Broglie & his unique Comporta villa
Louis Albert de Broglie has dedicated his life to being an eco-activist entrepreneur and his venture with his Comporta villa was no different.
Le Prince Jardinier
"I do hope to live there forever, it is a very healing place."
Louis Albert de Broglie, is also known as Le Prince Jardinier. He is an eco-activist entrepreneur and has spent the last few decades of his life dedicating himself to encouraging a more environmentally friendly attitude through all aspects of his work. This way of life is especially evident in his incredible property, his unique Comporta beach villa - Villa Cacela in Portugal. We spoke to M.de Broglie about his sustainable background and how it has influenced his design and lifestyle at his unique Comporta villa. Our conversation was fascinating and an insight into having a sustainable outlook on life. He explains how this outlook can seep into all aspects of our daily lives.
Louis Albert is well-known for his cabinet of curiosities, otherwise known as Deyrolle. This magnificent boutique, gallery and museum is a Paris institution know mostly for its taxidermy. Louis Albert describes it as "a temple of observation, with all of the stuffed animals and butterflies, insects, the entomology room, the shell collection and mineral collection." It is an educational haven for learning about our planet, the ecosystem and how to sustain it.
The Villa Cacela itself is spectacular, with rustic charm and incredibly intricate features throughout the property. Inspired by his trips around Asia, Louis Albert has created a haven of tranquility and calm in the small Portugese village of Comporta. We discuss the design process and how Villa Cacela will always hold a special place in his heart.
Louis Albert was first introduced to Comporta by the Santos family, and he visited as a guest in the early nineties. The attraction was instant. He tells me, "I was told that the only place available to buy was the place I have now, and that I had three days to decide, and that was 2010 and that's it." He's owned the Comporta villa ever since and has spent the last few years designing, altering and decorating it in his own unique style. "I do hope to live there forever" he says, " it is a very healing place."
"The nature is much more impressive, especially living on rice hills and you are very close to the magnificent natural reserves"
The appeal of a place like Comporta is not only the joyful community spirit but the undeniable natural beauty and scenery. "You cannot replace the wilderness, even though nature can be quite present in the city.
Of course, you might listen to the cormorant in the morning in Paris but the beauty of the vibe of Comporta holidays is much more freeing. Nature is much more impressive, especially living on rice hills and you are very close to the magnificent natural reserves." The way in which Louis Albert speaks about Comporta would make anyone want to move there.
"Our idea is to keep things in our lives and preserve them for the next generation and to make less use of an object, so it can be one that you will keep for 200 years."
I ask Louis Albert about how he implement his sustainable life policy into design and decorating his houses. He begins to tell me about his eponymous company Le Prince Jardinier. The premise of this design company is that they create "all types of objects, furniture, clothes, food and books" with sustainability in mind. "Our idea is to keep things in our lives and preserve them for the next generation and to make less use of an object, so it can be one that you will keep for 200 years."
When it came to designing the Comporta Villa, Louis Albert likes to share ideas with other people and work alongside a team. For this project, he worked with Vera Espirito Santo and Rita Andringa. Rita is a Lisbon based interior designer and she helped Louis Albert to create the perfect home combining the vernacular style of Comporta with the traditional architecture of the Timor houses.
The Timor houses are very spiritual houses, although as Louis Albert rightly says, "the word spiritual is being taken very lightly now." These 19th century houses used to be the village chiefs' houses, where the families, animals and spirits all lived in harmony. Now, this idea of communal living aligns perfectly with Louis Albert's lifestyle, "the idea of simplicity and frugality" that he follows in his everyday life.
The Comporta Villa
The mixture of design elements in the house make it an extraordinary property to look at. Each room exudes a different personality and showcases Louis Albert's eccentricity as well as design prowess.
The Timor influences are easy to spot around the house, especially in the form of wall carvings. They are traditional spiritual carvings that represent many elements of the Indonesian culture, "from the water animals and the crocodiles from the sea and the phoenix, the mythological bird and to everything that the artists wanted to symbolise from their culture."
The kitchen blends white and green paint to create a light and airy feeling to the space, one which works perfectly with the glossy green tiles that line the wall behind the oven.
Each room is also filled with trinkets, shells and small ceramics that have been gathered over time. Each one with a story or tale to tell. Louis Albert "is a swimmer and a walker, so (he) collects things from the beach and makes objects and art pieces from them." This cyclical upcycling is completely inline with his philosophy of not taking more than we need in life.
Louis Albert's addresses in Comporta
Galápos Beach "The Bahamas of Comporta"
Carrasquiera - The little restaurants dotted around here are the best
Ilhado Arroz - owned by Isabellina Cavallio, one of Louis Albert's oldest friends
Sado Estuary - "The beauty of the far end is that no-one ever goes there, it is incredible"
For even more recommendations of what to do in Comporta, check out our advice for a timeless Comporta beach holiday.