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JOIE DE VIVRE

French interior designer Frédéric Méchiche likes to indulge in a favorite pleasure — perusing real estate advertisements in Provence. This time he ended up with a new home. The newspaper notice simply stated: “19th-century Moorish house for sale.” No photo accompanied it.

“When I see a notice at an agent’s or on the Internet, I dream each time,” he confesses. “I see a film unroll in my head. Even if the place is abominable, my imagination conjures up what it could become. I adore that. There are several Orientalist houses in the South of France. I knew them all,” he says. “But I didn’t know this one. I took a rendezvous immediately.”

When he arrived at the house, nestled in the wild landscape of the Mont des Maures about nine miles up in the hills from Hyères, “the sky was black with clouds and it was pouring rain,” he recalls. “The terrace was as big as a football field, but with nothing on it, not a tree. The coupole — almost eight meters high — was covered in leaves and the Moorish arches had all been filled in. The house itself, built in 1894, was modern, a perfect cube like the Arabic architecture of tombs, but the façade was nineteenth-century Orientalist.”   

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INTERIOR DESIGN BY FREDERIC MECHICHE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEAN FRANCOIS JAUSSAUD
WRITTEN BY JEAN BOND RAFFERTY

This story appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of MILIEU.