Whether you’re lured by the South of France’s opulence or its proximity to the ocean, this palatial château gives you the best of both worlds. There are few more enchanting places along the Mediterranean that compare to the French Riviera, with its craggy coastlines, centuries-old mansions, medieval structures, pebbled beaches, sapphire sea, and, of course, that certain, sun-kissed je ne sais quoi.
From France’s oldest city of Marseille and the hedonistic haven of St. Tropez to the glamor of Monaco, the French Riviera offers many types of experiences. Tucked between Nice and Monaco, the colorful town of Villefranche-sur-Mer offers history, beachside elegance, and small-town charm. That’s not to say, however, that it isn’t filled with lavish historic homes and plush hotels. In fact, some of the French Riviera’s most historic properties can be found here. Notably, La Rêve d’Azur, a Belle Époque-style château that was built in 1911 and was recently listed by Côte d’Azur Sotheby’s International Realty for €47 million (or $51 million).
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Situated over more than four verdant acres, this century-old château presides over the largest private plot of land in all of Villefranche-sur-Mer. The grand estate is also notable for its former owners, brothers Gabriel and Charles Voison, pioneers in French aviation and luxury automobiles. The Voison brothers founded a French aircraft manufacturing company and produced military aircraft in World War I before pivoting to manufacturing cars.
While the château retains some of its original detailing, Italian architect Alberto Mariotti fully renovated the home in 2016. The 8,611-square-foot home has six bedrooms (four of which are primary suites) and four bathrooms spread across three exceptional floors, all with ocean views.
While most of the hilly town’s structures are built into the cliffsides, once you’re up the steep gated stone driveway, La Rêve Azur sits on a relatively flat parcel. You enter the home via a manicured stone walkway that leads to the marble-covered foyer. Off the entryway is a double living room—one that has likely hosted international dignitaries and jetsetter socialites over the years—and the kitchen, outfitted with state-of-the-art Miele appliances. There’s also a formal dining room with front-row ocean views and many elegant seating nooks, while terraces off the bedrooms provide views of the Cap Ferrat peninsula.
The home’s many balconies and outdoor spaces, along with the sprawling, terraced grounds, are among the property’s most alluring elements. For breezy summer days and balmy evenings, take to the rooftop terrace, complete with an outdoor dining table and summer kitchen, for spectacular views of the sea.
Underneath a 750-square-foot veranda is a gym and massage room, and set below the house, a long, pill-shaped swimming pool is emblazoned with three mosaics depicting roses on the bottom. The pool deck has ambient lighting for nighttime dips and plenty of room for rows of loungers.
The immaculate landscaping wouldn’t look out of place in a royal palace and includes curving stone staircases and swooping walkways that meander amid scuplted plantings and lush, emerald carpets of lawn. Thick woodlands around the perimeter add a sense of seclusion and privacy, and, though the property sits atop a towering stone rampart, there’s secured access to the waterfront.
There’s a sophisticated security system, of course, as well as an on-site security guard that patrols the property, and, as a bonus for a buyer who might not occupy the château as a full-time home, there is a house on site for a resident caretaker.
And, finally, when it’s time to get out of the house, it’s a quick jaunt to Nice or Monaco, both home to numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, designer boutiques, and elegant spas, along with a variety of entertainment options.
Click here for more photos of La Rêve d’Azur.
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