I stood with the present-day chateau owner of @chateau_charleval on the balcony overlooking the Luberon mountains and his sculpture garden, “Which sculpture is your favorite?” I asked him. “The Beast.” He answered strongly. We laughed and walked back in under the stained glass windows, the sound of my shoes echoing through the hollow wooden hallways.
This chateau, once a hunting lodge, was re-built by a wealthy soap manufacturer from Marseille in 1856 for his lover. In a nod to its history, he kept the hunting motifs–fireplaces carved with animal heads, corner moldings of the nature growing wild outside brought in. Not much had been changed since he built it, the stacks of old books and painted ceilings everywhere. They tell me that 10 years ago the most recent owner died, here in the chateau, over the age of 100. It sat unoccupied until purchased by the French artist and sculptor Daniel Rocher three years ago. Though they touched nothing, a new era of energy has swept through in the form of art. The chateau turned gallery. Rooms are filled with paintings, sculptures, and photography. A mix of what once was and what is now that will eventually, also turn into what remains one day too.
I walked room to room in total wonder. My imagination running wild with questions for a person it is impossible to ask and visions of a life that doesn’t exist anymore. The last room at the end of the hall, on the top floor of the chateau, that I entered was the formal bedroom, and poetically, covered in roses. The wallpaper, almost pristine still, was a celebration of everything I am hoping to capture in this month of May– the joy and abundance of May roses in Provence.
I sat in the old chair and with the stillness alone in the bedroom. If he is The Beast, then perhaps, I can be the Belle, enchanted by it all.