My Mazamet

Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho

Winter in Mazamet: Visiting the Molinié Villa

It’s been cold! The lawn has been regularly covered in a white dust of ice. There have been storms and flooding in various parts of France. Luckily, we’re not in a zone inondable (flooding zone). In fact the town sector of Mazamet is a safe zone not prone to be affected by natural risks. I have heard of serious hail storms, though. There was one so bad about fifteen years ago that destroyed a number of roofs in town and part of our greenhouse.

Recently I’ve been in contact with a couple who’s interested in taking on one of the old historical properties in town. I always find this fantastically exciting. A wave to the Guichets who bought the house across the street from us 👋. Projects like Les Pénates going on next door are fabulous, and a great way to give new meaning to old architecture; that being said, there’s also something fabulous about keeping a house going. Handing a home over from one generation to the next, each making its contributions. In its own way it’s a celebration of life. Continuity in a world full of turmoil and change.

In an entirely accidental encounter a couple of weeks ago we were driving back from walking the dogs and the enormous gates of Villa Molinié were open and a small group was talking outside. Mike stopped the car for a second and one thing led to the next and suddenly we were being shown the interiors. Fascinating place. The entrance is through a conservatory, which may seem an odd idea, but was in fact popular in the Belle Époque period as an early take on double glazing. The structure protects the rooms that face it from direct exposure to the elements, and even a little bit of sun creates warmth that you can then let into the house.  I once saw a superb house in Ville d’Avray where this was so magnificently done it looked like the scene from a film. Palm and citrus trees, a crystal chandelier, a bench where you could sit to take off your muddy boots. Sublime. Once you’re in house you see wood everywhere. Beautiful honey oak parquet, stunning panelling, and at the end a marble staircase with outstanding ironwork.

On the left there’s an anteroom with a corner fireplace. It opens both onto the conservatory and onto a magnificent white salon. The formal living room. This room isn’t panelled, instead it has glorious plasterwork. It also has an extraordinary window bay, I don’t say bay window because it’s so large; And there’s another Belle Époque quirk which is a functional fireplace with a window above it.

Going back into the hall and approaching the front door is the entrance to the dining room. It was designed with a strong arts and crafts feel. If someone told me it had been designed by William Morris, I wouldn’t blink. Currently it’s all dark wood Tudor panelling with attractive ceiling decorations and solid wood coving. This would be a real work of art either sanded down and waxed in a light colour or simply painted. I wish the owners had opened the windows and curtains so I could see the light in the room; although it is south facing so I imagine good. I’d personally go with painted as that’s easy and would transform the room.

New Home # Design: Modern English-Tudor Style

Painted Tudor panelling

Behind the dining room is the scullery. As was the custom at the time in France, servants and noise were kept at as much of a distance as possible. If you recall, number 42 had two kitchens. The upstairs kitchen was “fine” and adjoined the scullery where china and crystal were kept. The downstairs kitchen (semi-basement) has a massive fireplace where meat would have been roasted and things with stronger smells would’ve been tended to. Anyway, back to the other Villa. Behind the scullery is a large kitchen in a very unfortunate pale mental asylum blue. On the ground floor is also a small office and a wc.

Up the stairs and past a fairly monstrous stairlift there’s an elegant landing with mouldings and access to four bedrooms. All have original marble fireplaces. The master bedroom is fabulous. Not a little bit fabulous but very. The problem at the moment is seeing through the clutter. Sometimes one walks into a country house and it’s cluttered with beautiful things in wonderful colours. That is not the case here. This room has a balcony which overlooks the garden. The two best/biggest gardens in Mazamet are at the Reberga house facing the park and this one. Personally I think this one is much more charming. It needs some editing but it’s a truly spectacular starting point. Even now in winter it didn’t look sad.

Another interesting feature is the survitrage throughout. Depending where one is in town, one isn’t allowed to change the windows, that’s our case. To resolve this issue they added secondary glazing. The architecture is interesting. Very sober and straightforward. Clean lines but with some panache. You can barely tell from the pictures, but just like us there’s a full third floor with maid’s bedrooms and a bathroom.

And that’s the villa. I wonder if the people visiting it this weekend will like it? The property certainly deserves a new set of owners with the energy and style to make the house relevant again.

15 comments on “Winter in Mazamet: Visiting the Molinié Villa

  1. Steve Ruis
    February 2, 2022

    If a new owner shows up and wants to remodel, I hope we will get reports! (And maybe you could be hired to consult, no?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      February 2, 2022

      I’m hoping someone sees the potential. It’s definitely a great investment at the current price. The new owner just needs to have a good plan about how to get around a couple of complications. If they can do that, and find a way of doing it at a reasonable price, they’ve hit a jackpot.

      Like

  2. Fran Macilvey
    February 3, 2022

    So great to see your posts popping up again! Thank you! :-))

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Helen Devries
    February 3, 2022

    The last house but one in France had its original kitchens in an outhouse…a neighbour who remembered the house when in use said he saw the maids running across the courtyard with covered dishes.
    I do hope the house finds someone to bring it back to life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      February 4, 2022

      It’s truly shocking to think of the things people endured. Here at number 42 the staff loo is a world away from the unheated staff bedrooms. Unheated! I find it incredible that such basic things could be denied so unashamedly 😕

      Liked by 1 person

  4. acflory
    February 5, 2022

    I love these sneak peeks into the grand old houses of Mazamet! You and Mike are so fortunate to have bought when you did. Methinks good luck as well as good management. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      February 5, 2022

      I absolutely love going inside to see as well! In a way it’s like immersing one’s self in a book. You see the things that mattered to the people who built the place. You see the technology that was available at the time. You understand the social structure and what rights people did or didn’t have.
      I also agree we were very lucky when we bought. There were people who paid a fortune per square metre before the financial crisis. In the aftermath the market was dead as a doorknob. Things only really started to go up again the year after we arrived 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        February 5, 2022

        -grin- I owe my love of old buildings to my Dad. I still remember when we climbed in through the broken window [we didn’t break it!] of an old Federation Edwardian house that had stood empty for years. We fell in love with its battered grandeur and in time my parents bought it. During some renovations we found old bits of delivery dockets etc that identified the house as ‘Awaba’ house and eventually we found a book about the area that mentioned the house and its builder.
        And you’re right, poking through bricks and mortar history is just as immersive as reading a story. Just a bit dustier. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        February 7, 2022

        Was Edwardian Australia’s glory period? I noticed they used some amazing locations on Ms. Fisher.

        Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        February 8, 2022

        I don’t know enough about Australia architecture to answer that, but most of the ‘great houses’ seem to be Federation Edwardian or variations thereof. The house my parents bought had hugh, high pitched roofs that came down into massive verandahs that kept out the heat unless it was a week-long heat wave. Then the solid brick walls and massive foundations would soak up the heat and then radiate it back into the house for days. God I loved that house. I’m just so grateful that it was bought by people who not only restored it to its former glory but brought it into the modern age with care.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymole
    February 5, 2022

    “Let them eat cake.”?

    (Never mind me, I’m just jealous.)

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2022 by in art, design, gardens and tagged , , , , , .
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