The social diversity which works well
The community engagement of the Town Hall
The eco-responsible fruit n veg service "100 bornes à la ronde" (100k max)
The eco-swimming pool
PLaces: La Marbrerie, Le Méliès, the Théâtre & Bar du Marché
The great bookshops
The photo gallery Lumière des Roses
The anarchist bakery- "La Conquête du Pain"
A BEAUTIFUL SHIP IN A SEA OF GREEN
The adjective "unique" does not do this house justice.
Hidden behind the town hall, this structure made of wood, glass and steel, is simply breathtaking. It's also paradoxical because it's both mighty and towering yet light and airy at the same time.
This home, built by an architect for him and his family, with it's high ceilings and impressive volumes, is home to former Parisians Arnaud, a business lawyer and Anne, an industrial designer and now specialist in botanics and urban agriculture.
The ONLY reason they came to Montreuil was this house. It pulled them across the ring road like a giant magnet. Powerless to its charms, they landed in its green oasis in 2017.
But now in Montreuil they've obviously got to know it better and have become total afichianados of the town.
Let's meet camera-shy Arnaud et Anne and visit this beautiful home
A HAPPY COINCIDENCE
Nothing at all could have predicted Arnaud's arrival in Montreuil. He wasn't even looking for a house!
"I didn't feel the need to be a house owner, I always preferred renting. You spend ages looking etc, it just
wasn't for me. If I had to buy, my dream was to buy
a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere..."
Let's say he got his cabin, but slightly bigger than he imagined!
Having spent his whole life in Paris, more recently in the 10th arrondissement, Arnaud never thought about coming to this suburb and know absolutely nothing about the town.
It's thanks to his architect niece if he's here. She had sent him an article about this house"just for some house eye-candy" , years before but at that time Arnaud lived alone and a house this size was certainly not on his radar.
Later on he saw the house up for sale on line...he gave in to temptation and visited the house with no intention of buying, but something magical happened that day and he couldn't resist. It was self-evident that it was for him.
"The house chose me, I didn't choose the house"
It's not hard to understand his reasoning!
HEART VS HEAD
There was nothing logic about Arnaud's choice.
He was moving in more or less alone, it was a 150m² house with 600m² of garden.
It was a house for a DIY enthousisat....Arnaud couldn't even hang a picture frame
He was in Paris, Montreuil didn't particularly interest him...
But the house won out and he followed his heart.
All that mattered was to live here and not let this chance go by.
And oh how we get it! As soon as he saw it, all the rest must have paled into insignificance. As Anne says:
"As soon as you come into the garden, you're in another world.."
As it happens Arnaud is not alone in this big ship because one of his daughter's lives here now and his grilfriend Anne moved with him too.
Originally the house, built in 2006 by and for architect François-Xavier Allard, was meant to be part of a self-sufficient eco-system with a vegetable garden (permaculture) and a alternative water management system (the land was formerly a small vegetable farm).
The house itself was built with reclaimed wood. Thanks to this wood, you do get the impression that it blends into the nature all around it, becoming one with the trees and the plants.
To heat the huge central room, there is under-floor heating, an iron stove and a hot and cold air circulation system. The insulation is made from natural fibers.
The 600m² of garden, slightly wild, is covered in flowers, plants and trees, Anne tells me of its diversity:
"We have a lot of fruit trees, apple, pear, a 150-year-old walnut tree, grapes, raspberries, gooseberries....."
So no need to go to the local markets then!
When you come into the garden, you are hit with the height of the house. It's like a magnificent ocean-liner docked in its port with a magnifient green sea all around it..
No need to expliain that the architect was passionate abour sailing and you can see these touches throughout the home. The wooden interior walls (oak, poplar, walnut) remind us of chic passenger cabins on a beautiful sailboat
The huge sweeping stairs and the landing on the first floor have bannisters made from sailing ropes and this airy space up top looks down onto the living area, much like the captain's bridge on a Roman gally looking down onto deck.
There's also a porthole window upstairs, giving us a wonderful view of the back gardens.
It's really no surprise that they wanted to throw the anchor down here.
What's remarkable about this house is the perception of space.
Thanks to its huge windows and it's almost panaromic views, you feel like you both inside and out at the same time.
In summer when both sets of double-doors are open onto the gardens, the house and the outside spaces become one.
The greenery is omnipresent and you do feel like you're in that cabin in the woods or in a lodge on safari!
And even though the volumes are theatrical and immense and the ceilings lofty to say the least, the atmosphere manages to stay cosy and intimate.
It's certainly an intriguing home. The greatness of the living room was added to the original home, which houses the kitchen, the office and the 2 upstairs bedrooms. This original part is quirky and uneven. The charms of the old with the prestige of the new.
The long, annexe-type extension behing the main building looks onto the back garden and takes us in another direction, to a secret hidden part.
It's an adventure playground, a labyrinth of discovery, a place which piques our curiosity.
Arnaud: "It's a house with more stories to tell..."
There's a lot of beautiful artwork scattered throughout the home. Their ecletic collection creates a warm, bohemian vibe.
It's like being a child in a sweetie shop, there's too much to look at. It's a delight for the eyes and the mind.
The decoration is perfectly in line with the style of the house - impressive, but never pretentious.
A boat has its place on this chest of drawers- in keeping with the theme of the home
Freud watches over Arnaud & Anne
A painting of Corsica. Arnaud tells me he "bathes in its glory" every moring. Artist: Michelle Auboiron
What joy to live in such an oasis of tranquillity and greenery a stone's throw from the town centre.
The best of both worlds.
When I ask Arnaud what he likes most about his house and home, he tells me:
I couldn't have put it better myself.
Some photos: Corine Schoute-Angelé