Christmas In Provence and Eastern Europe comes to life through the pages of Art & Décoration and Campagne Decoration. These wonderful publications feature two stunning homes in their holiday issues. The first of these features takes the reader on a private tour of the Chateau d’Ansouis. Steeped in history and dating back to the thirteenth century, Château d’Ansouis overlooks the village of Ansouis and the valley of the Aigues.
Ownership of Château d’Ansouis has shuffled through the centuries. Owned since the tenth century by the powerful house of Forcalquier, the medieval fortress was next sold to Ansouis Zosimus-Elzear-Louis, Duke of Sabran in 1836. Elzear de Sabran and his wife Delphine. Honorably devoted to the causes of the poor resulted in Elzear being canonized and Delphine beatified in 1369. In January 2008, Gérard and Frédérique Rousset-Rouvière acquired Château d’Ansouis and a refined renovation soon began. Designer Jean-Jacques Bourgeois was brought on board and the beauty is in the details now more than ever, but especially at the holidays.
The arms of Sabran with diamond points grace the entryway. Lanterns and candlelight greet visitors in quaint and quiet splendor reminiscent of old world charm.
Soft candlelight in the stone stairway from the rows of candles, lantern, and wall table festively light the way to summer, the terracotta statue standing in the niche on the landing.
An exquisite interpretation of the list of thirteen traditional Provencal Christmas desserts is represented in grand detail. Mandarins, candied fruits, dates, dried apricots, chocolate and fresh grapes sit beautifully displayed between crystal candelabras atop a marble top buffet.
Eighteenth century antiquities set the tone for holiday dining with a festive, yet understated tablescape. After midnight mass on Christmas Eve, a gourmet meal of roasts, turkey and wines from Provence precedes the famous thirteen desserts. The thirteen desserts stand in remembrance of the Last Supper with Jesus surrounded by his twelve apostles. The Murano glass chandelier is stunning, as is the mantel and eighteenth century Rocaille.
The Grand Salon Rocaille, the 18th-century style of plaster-work featuring elaborately stylized shell-like, rocklike, and scroll motifs, is ranked among the best of Provence. The painted almond green walls are original to the decor.
Excuse me while I gain my composure after swooning over what I can only describe as an armoire cupboard. The contrast of the rich walnut armoire and original green patina of the interior cupboard is a Provincial design masterpiece.
Christmas en Provence are very traditional gatherings of family and community. The celebration begins with a vigil of songs, hymns and stories and concludes with gifts being handed out. The Big Dinner is a meatless meal held before midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The traditional table is set on three white tablecloths removed successively during the meal and adorned with three large white candles which represent the Trinity. Copper utensils and Moustiers earthenware shine as characteristically French features of an understated, utilitarian beauty.
The second feature has us shifting gears from historically traditional to whimsical wonder represented through warmth, color, and texture. This nineteenth century mansion of Slavic origin stands amidst a village in the north of the Ile-de-France. The dining room crystal chandelier and glass mercurisées reflect the reds, metals, and magentas of the holiday decor. My eyes immediately widen in decor amazement at first glance of the magenta branches on the mantel and the Reindeer skin draped garden chairs.
‘Tis the season for color, texture, velvet, silk, ribbons, embroidery and florals.
A lone display works as the perfect compliment to the whimsical decor~ a Christmas cuckoo clock with mushroom glass mercurisé.
Accessories inspire the gift of creativity.
Old world and modern day traditions at Christmas, both celebrated and decorated in other parts of our world, fittingly represent history, culture, and design. The beauty, joy, and traditions of the season translate well.
Château d’Ansouis photo source: via
Nineteenth century mansion photo source: via