It is not that easy to get to from Paris (50 mins), but La Vallée aux loups, Chateaubriand’s property in Chatenay Malabry, south of the capital, is a dream place well worth a day’s excursion. The house first, which was built in 1783, is the perfect size and has exquisite furniture. The park with its two hundred year old cedar tree and lovely tea house, the arboretum and its bonsai greenhouse and 500 species of trees, are ideal for a walk. On the south east side of the capital, the Caillebotte family house in Yerres is also a beautiful spot. The garden is smaller but the house entirely redecorated two years ago is a little jewel of 1824 where Gustave, the Impressionist painter lived with his family. They are 40 mins from each other.
François-René de Chateaubriand was exiled from Paris by Napoleon and bought La Vallée aux loups (the valley of wolves) in 1807 when it was only a modest place. This is where he started writing his major work, “Mémoires d’Outre tombe” (Memoirs from beyond the grave) published after his death in 1849. One room is dedicated to Juliette Récamier who used to visit often and the “Lit de repos” (meridian) designed by Jacob, on which she lies in the David painting, is there in the Salon bleu. Chateaubriand had met her at Mme de Staël’s in 1801, and besides being his lover, she was very supportive of both his literary and political careers.
There is a very special atmosphere in this house and garden, where Chateaubriand planted a few cedars, a catalpa, a tulip tree and cypresses. One feels one could move into the house today and be very happy! On the other side of the road, an excellent arboretum provides for a long walk among sequoias, alnus, and a greenhouse dedicated to bonsaïs. Check for opening hours and booking first. La Vallée aux loups, Chatenay Malabry.
Another adventure but South East of Paris this time, is to visit Gustave Caillebotte‘s (1848-1894) house in Yerres. It is also approximately an hour’s drive and just as charming in style. The house built in 1824 is furbished with impeccable taste and his bedroom’s empire style furniture was bought a few years ago from Robert de Balkany’s estate. The renovation was conducted by Valérie Dupont Aignan.
The atmosphere of this house is very different, there is a more bourgeois and impeccable style to the Louis Philippe furniture and decoration. Located in the middle of the city or Yerres, it projects the vibes of a happy family, where everyone was talented, one of the brothers, Martial was a music composer and a photographer while the older half brother was Alfred, the famous priest of Notre-Dame-de-Lorrette. The painter lived at 31 bd Haussmann and dedicated much of his paintings to the 9 ht arrondissement near Saint Lazare and the opera.
The industrial opulence of the family is visible and one can discover on the second floor a whole world of sailing and music, photography and gardening. There are small exhibition organized regularly in a modern adjacent building and the vegetable garden can be visited. To see Caillebotte’s works, you will have to wait until June 2021 when Daniel Marchesseau’s large exhibition devoted to the painter opens in Martigny at Fondation Gianadda. Domaine Caillebotte in Yerres.
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