Visit to Chateau de l’Aiguetta

We were recently invited to a BBQ in the grounds of a partly-restored historic property in Eze. Friends were keeping an eye on the property to avoid further dereliction while the owner was back home. As you all know, I love a spot of property porn and while this particular Chateau falls well short of my standards, it’s in a great location and was worthy of further investigation.

This huge baronial, faux-Scottish castle in Eze was built by the nephew of the famed Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson. He acquired the fourteen hectares of cultivated land on which stood a house, a shed and a bread oven from lawyer Etienne Bermondi. After Tennyson’s nephew sold it to pay off his gambling debts, the original building underwent a couple of transformations turning it into a fortified castle.

At the beginning of 20th century, a floor was added to the original house and the facade was transformed by the installation of molded cement slabs imitating freestone. But it was during its second expansion that the villa took on the appearance of a fortified castle when a rectangular two-storey wing was added plus round and square turrets.

The estate was sold successively in 1926, then in 1928 to the Monagesque Société des Bains de Mer, which planned to create a golf course there. The residence was however quickly abandoned and suffered much damage over time with its interiors being stripped by looters. In 1993, it was bought by the SCI du Château de l’Aiguetta. The company undertook work but the site remained under construction for several years.

In 2013, the owner of the estate, was the subject of bankruptcy proceedings, forcing it to sell this exceptional property. Initially listed at some US$ 59 milllion it was eventually sold at auction in March 2016 for just over US$10 million to a Russian oligarch who plans to turn it into a home for his family. Fortunately, he has deep enough pockets to turn this carbuncle into a fairytale castle.

It’s undeniably situated on 40 lush, prime acres, located in the village of Eze off the Grand Corniche, just five minutes drive from the Principality of Monaco. It boasts stunning views of the sea and the medieval village. The 15-bedroom castle has more than 4,000 sq m (40,000 sq ft) of interior space, making it the largest such property on the Cote d’Azur. The dramatic edifice is said to have been the inspiration for Walt Disney’s castle in his animated film Sleeping Beauty, following one of his stays in Eze.