Peek Inside a 15th-Century Normandy Manor Brought Back to Vibrant Life


Buying a chateau in France requires an immense amount of patience. First, to close the deal—because there is almost always a complicated backstory. And second, to restore the place—because big, old houses always need a lot of work.

Casa Lopez owner and artistic director Pierre Sauvage encountered these issues firsthand with his 15th-century estate in south Normandy, and navigated them with his signature sunny style. The previous owners had been enmeshed in a decades-long row, which led to dividing the 80-acre property, with its manor house, stables, gardener’s cottage, chapel, and outbuildings, in two. Sauvage researched, negotiated, and waited until he was able to acquire both halves from the feuding brothers, then reunited them into one glorious seat.

By that time, it was in sorry shape. The grounds were overgrown, “and there was mold and humidity in the house,” Sauvage says. “The owner couldn’t keep it up, so he only used two rooms downstairs—the kitchen and a salon.” The upper floors were for storage. “You couldn’t enter the rooms because they were stuffed.” Clearly, returning the domain to an elegant state would be a challenge—but one Sauvage found stimulating, even exciting. “Old houses are marvelous,” he declares. “But when we redo them, we wound them a bit. You have to find a way to keep the charm while making sure you can live in it and it can carry on forever.”

The drawing room’s green velvet walls connect the space to the landscape seen through the windows. The rug is by Franz Potisek for Casa Lopez, and the lacquered cocktail table is a Madeleine Castaing design.

To achieve that took Sauvage five years, with the sure-handed assistance of his stalwart interior designer/restorer Franz Potisek; together they have already worked on several of Sauvage’s properties, including a Paris apartment (AD, August 2017) and a small country home near Giverny. Sauvage and Potisek gently reconceived the château’s layout—converting one bedroom into two baths, for instance—and gave the place, once the fortified home of a Joan of Arc disciple, a blast of color, whimsy, and joy, inside and out.

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