Historic Château de la Croix des Gardes, Jewel of the French Riviera

Historic Château de la Croix des Gardes, Jewel of the French Riviera

The largest remaining estate on the Cote D'Azur, this legendary Belle Époque property is an homage to the glory days of the French Riviera. With unparalleled 360-degree views, the Lérins Islands and the Mediterranean Sea, and the snowy mountains, this property embodies the enduring romance of the Cote D'Azur. 

Situated high above Cannes on the lush Crois des Gardes hill, the property became infamous in 1955 as the set of Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief", starring megastars Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.

The iconic scene in the film showcases the drive up the winding mountain road that leads to the Château de la Croix des Gardes, passing through 25 acres of French formal gardens, filled with eucalyptus and cypress trees, dwarf palms, cacti, and aromatic laurel and lavender shrubs.

Legend has it that Grace Kelly immediately fell under the spell of this unique castle, positioned a few minutes from the port of Cannes and the Palais des Festivals. (She would would later go on to become Princess of Monaco, the tiny principality about an hour east of Cannes.)

Dating back to the early 19th century, this almost 13,000 sq ft villa was built alongside a series of outstanding properties in the region (Villa Rothschild, Castle Vallombrosa, and Villa Romée, among others) that became known as Quartier des Anglais.

In 1919, Swiss industrialist Paul Girod purchased the property and built a Florentine style villa atop the hill, surrounded by 25 acres of authentic hanging gardens designed by a famed landscape architect known throughout the region. These iconic gardens defined the state, which would come to be known as the 'Castle of la Croix des Gardes'.

In 1960 the property was purchased by Gustave Leven, Chairman of the French sparkling water company Perrier. Leven hired famed English architect Alan Gore to extend and redesign the 13 bedrooms and 8 bathroom château as well as the property grounds, including a world-class orangery, and a 33-meter long swimming pool.

Also known as Villa Perrier, the château was put on the market again for the first time in 56 years in 2016, by Sotheby’s International Realty, for an undisclosed price, although the New York Times reported the chateau was listed in the range of 50 to 100 million euros.

Photos by Sotheby’s Cote d’Azure


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