Chateau de la Croë
History and museums
The Château de la Croë is a large detached villa situated in eight hectares of grounds on the Cap d'Antibes peninsula on the Côte d'Azur, in the Alpes-Maritimes department of southern France. The classical chateau was built in 1927 for Sir Pomeroy Burton, general manager of Associated Newspapers, by the architect Armand-Albert Rateau.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor leased the château in May 1938 in addition to their Paris mansion after the Duke's abdication as King Edward VIII in 1936.
The Duchess of Windsor subsequently renovated the house, leading the author Rebecca West to comment that "There are not many women ... who can pick up the keys to a rented house, raddled by long submission to temporary inmates, and make it look as if a family of good taste had been living there for two or three centuries."
Winston and Clementine Churchill celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary with the Windsors at the chateau in 1948.
Among the Windsor's guests were Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire and her husband, the Duke of Devonshire. Deborah Devonshire later recalled that the Duke of Windsor wore full Highland dress at dinner, with a kilt and a dirk, and a Highland piper entertained the dinner guests, which Devonshire thought was "more suited to the misty glens than the Côte d'Azur in July." The Windsor's housekeeper later worked at Chatsworth, home of the Devonshires. The housekeeper told Deborah Devonshire that all the staff employed at the Chateau de la Croë by the Windsors were blonde haired.
The Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis owned the chateau from 1950 to 1957, selling it after his wife, Athina Livanos, found him in bed with her friend, the socialite Jeanne Rhinelander. The house was then acquired by Onassis's brother-in-law and business rival Stavros Niarchos, who bought it for his wife, Eugenia Livanos, Athina's sister.
The Chateau de la Croë has been owned by the Russian businessman Roman Abramovich since 2001. Abramovich is believed to have spent £30 million restoring the chateau. In 2010 a lecture was given and a short film shown at the house on Abramovich's restoration of the Chateau de la Croë. Before its restoration, the chateau had been damaged and occupied by squatters, with only the structure still intact. The permit for the renovation works was granted in February 2004, and work took four years to complete. The work was completed two months ahead of deadline, with all the furniture and fittings individually made and designed for the house. As part of the works a pool was built on the roof of the building, and a gym and cinema were installed in the basement. The grounds were landscaped by Peter Wirtz, the son of noted Belgian landscape designer Jacques Wirtz, and planted with Californian and Mediterranean species.