La Pausa is a large detached villa in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, in the Alpes-Maritimes department of France. The French fashion designer Coco Chanel designed and built it in the early 1930s. It remained Chanel’s property until she sold it to the Hungarian publisher Emery Reeves in 1953. In the period from 1956 to 1958, the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill spent about 1/3 of a year with Emery Reeves and his wife Wendy. The latter occupied La Pausa until her death in 2007. Replica of the principal rooms of La Pausa and its significant art collection was created at the In Dallas Museum of Art.
Rene Boulay [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
In February Coco Chanel bought a plot of 5 acres for 1.8 million (old) French francs. Formerly the plot had been part of the hunting grounds of the Grimaldis, a ruling family in Monaco. It contained wild olives and orange groves. On this plot Coco Chanel built villa “La Pausa” for 6 million F.Francs. It was finished less than a half year later with Robert Streitz as the architect. Robert Streitz dreamed about the “ideal Mediterranean villa” and had restored another local villa for Chanel’s friend Count Jean de Segonzac formerly. In that time Coco Chanel had a relationship with Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd duke of Westminster. It is not clear which part both played in the financing of the building and its furnishing.
6 million old French francs are 60,000 new French francs. In euro: € 1500.
Coco Chanel based the design of La Pausa on the orphanage in Aubazine where she spent her childhood. The repeating of the design of five windows throughout the house is a tribute to Chanel’s perfum, Chanel No 5. For the roof Chanel ordered more than 20,000 curved handmade tiles. The interior of the house was designed in shades of white and beige. Beige also is the piano the house included. Stéphane Bouding, president of the interior design firm “Maison Jansen” may have assisted her.
The central villa is 10,000 sq ft in size and has two smaller villas for the guests. The main house has seven bedrooms making it a mansion. Further three living rooms, a dining room, two kitchens and staff quarters. The three wings face a shaded countyard. The rooms contain large fireplaces. Chanel filled them with 16th century English furniture, a git from the Duke of Westminster. The floor and panelling were in English oak as well.
In 1953 Chanel sold La Pausa to the Hungarian émigré publisher Emery Reves. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill became a frequent guest of Reves and his wife Wendy Russell Reves at La Pausa. Churchill who loved the atmosphere at La Pausa attracked other guests including Noël Coward, Somerset Maugham, and Edward Molyneux. Churchill’s wife, Clementine, found La Pausa claustrophobic, and only stayed with Churchill for four of his eleven visits to the house. Churchill would spend a total of 54 weeks at La Pausa over the three and a half years from his first visit in 1956, spending roughly a third of a year at the house from 1956 to 1958. During his stay he wrote part of his History of the English Speaking Peoples. His visits to La Pausa were curtailed in 1960 after Emery Reves declined to host him. Other notable high society guests hosted by the Reves at La Pausa included the aristocrats Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and the actors Greta Garbo, Errol Flynn and Clark Gable.
Until her death in 2007 Wendy Reves occupied the house. La Pausa was shut after her death, and remained unaltered during several years. She bequeathed the Reves Foundation including the villa and its contains undivided to the Dallas Museum of Art for the largest part, some charities, and the College of Williams and Mary. In 2013 the house was described as requiring modernisation, and needing a new heating and electrical system, as well as plumbing, and a modern kitchen and bathrooms. Repairs were also required to the stone steps and road leading to the house.
Following Reves’s death La Pausa was put up for sale, with the sale of items from the house to benefit the Reves Foundation. In 2012 La Pausa was withdrawn from sale by Sotheby’s due to pending litigation. After the legal problems were resolved, Knight Frank put La Pausa up for sale in May 2013 for 40 million euros. In 2013 the French ambassador to Monaco, Hugues Moret, said of the sale that La Pausa was “… part of France’s heritage,” adding that “We have to find a way to keep it in the family.”
La Pausa has now been acquired by the House of Chanel again, with plans to restore it to its original decor and spirit.
Situated above the village of Roquebrune, the house enjoys views toward Menton and the French border with Italy on one side, and Monaco on the other. Its name refers to the legend that Mary Magdalene “paused” near here on her journey from Jerusalem following the crucifixion of Jesus.
April 18, 2013 – Let’s snoop around the former French Riviera home of Coco Chanel
October 1, 2015 – Coco Chanel’s villa “La Pausa” bought by Chanel/
October 14, 2015 – Chanel reacquires villa “La Pausa”