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Villa Printemps, Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

villa celebre roc tavel

La villa Printemps is a large white house overlooking boulevard Gambetta. It was commissioned in 1980 by Frumence Dumoulin, an estate owner based in Lyon, certainly as a real estate investment since it was used as a furnished guest house. It was designed to be a high standing house, with master and servant bedrooms and all the equipment necessary to ensure proper comfort. In the 30s, it was rented out with laundry and silverware. In the beginning of the 20th century, it lodged prominent figures from the fields of arts and science.

French painter August Renoir, who suffered from articular rheumatism, retired to the Midi towards the end of his life. He first moved to Grasse, before settling with his wife and children in Le Cannet's Villa Printemps in February 1902. He spent little time there, as he did not enjoy the worldly lifestyle of Cannes and Le Cannet. He preferred Cagnes sur Mer, and settled down there in his house "Les Collettes", in which he spent the rest of his life.

In 1905 Henri Beaunis became the new owner of Villa Printemps and moved in with his wife. The doctor was a leading expert in the field of psychology and created at the Sorbonne, in 1889, the first French laboratory of experimental psychology. Although not a native of Le Cannet, he took an active part in the village's social life and was considered a public figure. As such, his wife was much involved in the town's charity work. He died in his house in 1921.

 

Villa Roc Tavel, Auguste Tavel (1854-1930)

Painter Auguste Tavel decided to move to Le Cannet after visiting his brother, then the Director of the Cannes "Cie du Gaz" (Gas Company). He was immediately captivated by the brilliant light and the view from the Colle hills.

He commissioned the building of his villa, which he named Roc Tavel, in wooded parkland covering 4,000 m2. The house plans were drawn by Henri Stoecklin. The ground floor holds a large 54 m2 art studio, on the first floor are four master bedrooms. Louis Pastour painted the dining-room ceiling in simulated wood, while painter Baraize created decorative motifs on 3 sides of the room.

Tavel, known as "the olive tree painter", distinguished himself by his landscape paintings "Sous les oliviers en hiver" (Under the olive trees in winter time), "Aux Brigguières", "Environs du Cannet" (Surroundings of Cannet)... He died in 1930, giving his name to the road leading up to his house.

 

Les Néfliers, Ferdinand Bac (1859-1952)

An illegitimate grand-son of King Jérôme, the brother of Napoleon the first, Ferdinand Bac was a painter, writer, illustrator and garden designer. He achieved fame mainly through his skill as a landscape gardener. After several inspiring journeys along the Mediterranean coast, he settled on the Côte Azur. He rapidly began to receive orders, from Grasse (1912), Villefranche (1915), St Jean Cap Ferrat (1917), and especially Menton (1919 to 1926) in which he designed the interior decoration and created the garden of the manor "Les Colombières", a project considered to be his masterpiece. In 1906, he spent the winter at the home of Maurice Maeterlinck in Grasse. He then rented a house, cottage Les Néfliers in Cannet's avenue Jean Mermoz, from 1909 to 1917. It was a rather simple white house, set back from the road.

Haunted by the secret of his origins, he wrote a book about "Prince Napoléon", in which he described his grand-father's liaison with Rachel, his mistress from 1851 to 1855. He told of his lightning visit to go to the tragedian's bedside. During his stay in our town, Ferdinand Bac was able to visit Villa Sardou and see the room in which she died. A prominent figure in Le Cannet known as a "writer and eminent garden designer", he was sometimes called on by "Le Cannet Journal" to write articles concerning Rachel and Prince Napoleon.

 

Le chalet rose, Georgette Leblanc (1875-1941)

A poet, writer, opera singer and movie actress, Georgette Leblanc was a woman of many talents. She was especially known as a singer in her favourite role of "Thaïs de Massenet" and her performance in "Carmen" in 1904 was a triumph. She acted in Marcel L'Herbier's film "L'inhumaine" (The inhuman woman).
The daughter of a ship-owner from Rouen, she was sister to Marcel Leblanc, the author of the "Arsène Lupin" series. For close to twenty years, she was the partner of great writer and Nobel Prize winner Maeterlinck.

While she was seriously ill, she decided to move closer to Cannes, in a small and modest house, Le chalet rose, which some friends found her. She settled there in February 1940 with her two long-time friends Mathilde Serrure and American writer Margaret Anderson, and died there on the following year, in October 1941. She is buried in the Notre-Dame des Anges cemetery. Her two companions are resting by her side. A plate on the house in avenue Victoria recalls her presence in Le Cannet.

 

L'Oliveraie, Maurice Thorez (1900-1964)

From November 1954 to 1955, Maurice Thorez, former minister and Secretary General of the Communist Party, lived in Le Cannet, at L'Oliveraie, a mas Provençal (traditional Provençal villa) of chemin des Bréguières. A denizen of the Côte d'Azur, he had already spent time in Mougins and Cannes. The house did not belong to him, but was lent to him by the Director of a Parisian real estate agency, a former communist deputy, who bought it in 1955 for 28 million francs. Although it was conducted with the greatest discretion, news of this "arrangement" leaked out to certain local and national newspapers and various articles revealed the presence in Le Cannet of this eminent visitor as well as the means by which he was bought.

To put an end to the controversy, the Communist Party sought to reassure its militants: "The communist party [...] wishes to reaffirm its complete confidence in its enlightened leader and to express its profound contempt for the slanderers appointed by our capitalist opponents. [...] and it was also in compliance with a party decision that comrade Maurice Thorez accepted to be accommodated in a villa in the South-East of France that was bought at the request of the central committee. "Villa L'Oliveraie" is the property of the communist workers who can be called upon to stay there in order to take the rest necessary to the pursuit of their activities. "... Extensive work and modifications were carried out on the building, transforming the old mas into a small manor house.

Located at the top of a hill and surrounded by two hectares of parkland, Villa L'Oliveraie thus became a spacious and comfortable house, containing eight bedrooms, a 40-m2 lounge, a garage large enough to accommodate ten cars, television, and additional services needed to house the staff. Hidden out of sight from prying eyes and bereft of part of the estate, L'Oliveraie, known today as Les Escarasses, has not yet fallen victim to the appetite of property developers.