Invite yourself into celebrities' houses!
Explore the houses in Atlantic Loire Valley that were once home to famous people. Some of them, designated "Maisons des Illustres", have even been kept unchanged and offer an amazing insight into the world of these legendary figures.
Georges Clemenceau's house, Saint-Vincent-sur-Jard (Vendée)
It feels as though he has just popped out for a stroll among the cypresses and maritime pines. The modest fisherman's house, to which statesman Georges Clemenceau retired in 1919 at the age of 78, has remained intact ever since his death. Behind its white walls, visitors can see the personal effect of "The Tiger", including his duelling pistols, souvenirs from Japan – a country he particularly admired – the 1,500 books in the library corridor, his hunting trophies, and his bed, raised up so he could see the sea. Positioned facing the immense ocean is the desk on which the ex-President of the Council wrote several books. Outside, along with his friend Claude Monet he created a gardenwith various impressive features, on the dune.
Cambronne's apartments, Nantes (Loire-Atlantique)
Although the very chic cours Cambronne bears his name and is home to his statue, it was at 3 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau that the famous general lived for 22 years after he retired, alternating between his country estate of la Baugerie in Saint-Sébastien-sur-Loire. Originally from Nantes, this most loyal of Napoleon's men, who was actually nicknamed the Count of the Empire, was particularly attached to his city apartment, set over 200 m2 of a succession of Haussmann-era salons. Today, these are used for receptions and various events, and the entire place has been renamed the Cercle Cambronne. It can be visited by appointment or during the Heritage Days, when you can admire its sumptuous chandeliers, mouldings and gilt decoration...
Robert Tatin's house, Cossé-le-Vivien (Mayenne)
An astonishing property to say the least! In 1962, the artist Robert Tatin and his wife Lise moved into this old farmhouse in the lieu-dit of La Frénouse. This was the beginning of an incredible work, a monumental sculpture build in the fields near the residence. It took a total of 21 years to create this piece, which is reminiscent of the Palais Idéal by the Ferdinand Cheval. It is now a museum that houses the Mayenne artist's paintings, in particular. You can also explore the building he lived in, and in one corner you'll spot the owner's horse shoes and brushes, his tiny TV, a Gaudi-style lampshade, a table made from tree trunks, and more. Outside, the garden is home to the grave of the whimsical creator.
Julien Gracq's house, Saint-Florent-le-Vieil (Anjou)
The illustrious writer Julien Gracq had barely any taste for society events and the atmosphere of the Paris salons. Having declined the Prix Goncourt in 1951 for The Opposing Shore, he chose instead to spend his older years by the Loire in his childhood home. Upon his death, he decided to bequeath the building, located half way between Nantes and Angers, on the condition that it would become a kind of writers' retreat. Nearby, the second building on the property (the old salt store, no less) houses the Room of maps, a space open to the public that pays tribute to the writer's interest in geography. The remarkable library on the first floor can be opened upon request. It brings together the works of the local boy, as well as a selection of books put together by contemporary authors and artists.