Le Castelet - Known History

In a region like Cote d’Azur, that has expanded enormously the last hundred years; the really original buildings are becoming more and more scarce. Especially those old houses with some kind of grandeur and grace – like Le Castelet.

Le Castelet was originally a castel overlooking the surrounding mountains. One part of the stone wall originates from the roman period, but most parts of the bastide was constructed during the medieval period.

It is easy to see that the owners over the centuries have enlarged and expanded the building. One can guess that after some years with good harvest they built a terrace. Next project maybe was to enlarge the stables. In 1841 – the year is engraved on the iron flag on top of the circular roof - the owner adjoined the tower. The windows have all different size; Le Castelet has obviously been built in an ad hoc way without thought-out plans. There are carvings in present day windows with the year 1863 on it – maybe that’s the last time they were renovated.

It is said that a British widow 1919 bought the house from en elderly French couple that had had Le Castelet in the family for centuries. The new owner installed running water with tubes of copper and led, and also central heating. The water tank storing some 800 litres is still to be found in the attic, although disconnected. All led and copper plumbing is also removed today. In 1946 the garage was built. 1957 the owner deceased and Le Castelet went for sale.

Cinema connected History

One of the neighbours up the road was between 1956 and 1958 the well-known French writer and film director Marcel Pagnol. Known for novels like Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources . These two novels of Pagnols affectionate reminiscences of childhood were adapted to international acclaim in the 1980s by film-maker Claude Berri,  The two novels La Gloire de mon père and Le château de ma mère were also filmed successfully by Yves Robert in 1990. They were both written when Pagnol lived in the house you can see just behind Le Castelet.

Some 200 meters further up the road lived well-known French actor Jean Marais in the 1950s. He told his at the time extremely popular actress friend Brigitte Bardot about a house being for sale in the spring of 1958 – Le Castelet. Just recently divorced from director Roger Vadim, the 24 year old Bardot came to stay at Le Castelet in the spring of 1958 to the enjoyment of many young boys in the village, many of them still today connecting Le Castelet with Brigitte Bardot. One neighbour has told that many a young man climbed the trees and walls along the alley to get a glimpse of the film star by the pool.
It is said that she was on the verge of buying the bastide, but that her mother, on a visit to St Tropez, found a less expensive property with “foot in the the sea” which Bardot later bought.

Recent development

Instead a Swedish family took over Le Castelet. They renovated somewhat, but were eager to keep the Bastide in its original provencal style. When the mother suddenly died in a car accident, it was left to the children and grandchildren in 1965. Since then Le Castelet “was in the hands of no one and everyone”, being used by friends and relatives to the extended family. Wine was still produced every year, as was oil from all olive trees. But as the year passed the family members bought their own houses and in 1997, the present Swedish owners were offered to buy Le Castelet.

Since then the new owners have entered a difficult and delicate task; that of renovating and update a living history built of stone, bricks and mortar. The phrase “no stone has been left unturned” is maybe somewhat exaggerated, but the fact is that most parts of the house – in most cases those parts that are not direct visible to the eye – has been carefully restored. The ground is nowadays well drainaged and insulated, as are walls and ceilings. AC has been installed where possible, plumbing and heating, electricity, Ethernet and a sophisticated sound system now run in tubes behind newly decorated walls. Plaster has been renovated and renewed by skilled craftsmen who have been working several years on the project. Kitchen is entirely new even if the idea is that this should not be visible. With the help of the respected carpenters and painters from the company De Tonge, kitchen furniture as well as doors and cabinets are newly done. An elevator has been installed for easier access to the three different levels of le Castelet. If in a wheelchair you can reach the main swimming pool, the barbecue area and spa directly from the parking lot. All rooms have been decorated individually with the idea of being culturally linked to different parts of the world – the African room, the Istanbul inspired “thousand and one night”, the Marrakech room, the Thebe room and so on.


The original swimming pool of 3 by 7 metres (where Brigitte Bardot used to swim and bask) has been accompanied by two new heated overflow pools of 22 and 20 metres length respectively. The first one intended in first hand for diving and playing – the second mainly for exercise and playing. The different pools are also intended to being used respectively by those occupying the main building or those occupying the converted stables - the annex.


On the same level as the 22 m pool, there is a 3 x 3 meter heated spa with seating for up to 16 persons. Suitable even for the board of a company or an extended family.

Keeping up style and History

The old vineyard has been restored entirely. Some 650 plants have been planted over the last years. A winemaking room has been constructed as well as a 30 square metre wine cave on the level under the main swimming pool. A 18 x 4,5 meter long petanque – a boule playing area has been established. If you need to shelter in the afternoon sun you can go to the Cabanon – the little garden hut among the vines. In the building permit it is stated that the cabanon should look as it always has stood there. The old tiles from Grimaud, the ancient floor from Avignon really looks like they’ve been there since hundreds of years.

Le Castelet is an ongoing project for its present owners/caretakers. It will never be finished. Please enjoy if you choose to stay, and try to inhale the very special blend of real and imagined scents; real odours from rosemary, lavender, cypress and imaginative ones that associate to pictures of van Gogh and Cezanne, the taste of a fresh Rosé wine and eons of free time alone and with family and close friends.

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