Charles’ mother, the Princess of Poix, offered him a piece of hill in Hyères as a wedding gift, located in one of the sunniest spots in the south of France, with a view of the Île de Port-Cros and the Île du Levant. They were a couple of collectors and patrons of the arts who notably financed projects by Dali, Buñuel, and Cocteau. In 1925, they constructed this villa over the town that represents one of the most modern-style constructions in France. It boasts an “infinitely practical and simple” concept, “where everything is brought together with nothing but utility in mind.” The architect applied the founding precepts of the rationalist movement: purification of decorative elements, roofs, terraces, light.
This is one of its singularities. “The way it’s built sheds doubt on all the certitudes of the modern movement. Unplanned extensions appeared and, even though the experiment was concluded, it still carried on.” Successively expanded up until 1933 to reach a grand total of 2,000 m2 and 60 rooms with a pool, squash court, and private gym. Decorated by the greatest including Francis Jorudain, Constantin Brancusi, Alberto Giacometti. The monument they would call Saint Bernard would be one of the first modernist buildings in Europe; they even had to use traditional masonry to build it since no one in Hyères knew how to work with reinforced concrete.
Surrounding the edifice is a Mediterranean garden planted by the Vicomte de Noailles, completed by a Cubist garden from Gabriel Guevrekian. Renamed the “jardin triangulaire”, it’s perfected by a bronze from Jacques Lipchitz. Respecting the wishes of Charles de Noailles, who sold the property in 1973 to the town of Hyères, the park was opened to the public while the building itself became a cultural center. It officially became a historical monument in 1987 after a long period of abandon, and was restored in different stages to become a center for art and architecture in 1996. Looks like the promise was kept, since each year the renowned International Fashion and Photography Festival is held here.