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La Belle Époque: Cannes Castle by the Sea

Conceived at a time of cultural innovation and boundless optimism, Château Soligny is a jewel in the French Riviera that embodies the joie de vivre of La Belle Époque

Sitting at the end of a long driveway in magnificent grounds, close to the center of Cannes, Château Soligny effortlessly recalls a gilded, hedonistic era on the Côte d’Azur. Built during the French Riviera’s golden age by the architect Rimbaud in 1868, this Belle Époque mansion is grand in every sense.

“It is unique and a total masterpiece,” says Angie Delattre of Michaël Zingraf Real Estate, the exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the region, which is marketing the château. “Most comparable homes have been divided into apartments.”

Château Soligny spans almost 14,000 square feet of space over five levels. The main reception rooms, which cover 1,937 square feet, are on the ground floor and lead onto wide terraces. One floor lower, at garden level, are four of the eight guest suites. These spacious, airy 538-square-foot bedrooms have their own distinctive design, a guest drawing room, and an opening on to the garden.

One of the most striking features is the stained glass ballroom—designed by Gustave Eiffel for the owner Aristide Boucicaut, founder of Le Bon Marché department store, who bought the property in 1872. Perched at the edge of the garden, overlooking the Mediterranean, the conservatory-like room was used by Boucicaut for parties and entertaining as well as organ practice. The elegant space overlooks the Île Sainte-Marguerite—the largest of the Lérins Islands, and the tranquil, light-filled room would also make an inspiring office.

“It is a total masterpiece. Most comparable homes have been divided into apartments.”

The château, which was expanded by Boucicaut to include two further wings, as well as a water tower and chapel, makes the most of its stunning position overlooking Cap d’Antibes and the Bay of Cannes. “There are 180-degree sea views and you can even see Saint-Tropez and the Estérel Massif,” says Delattre. Located in the most prestigious residential area of lower Californie—a highly sought-after district of exclusive homes—it is within walking distance of the town center. “You can be on the Croisette in five minutes,” says Delattre.

Although close to the center, Château Soligny is a haven of peace. Stone paths meander through the grounds, passing streams, waterfalls, and contrasting garden designs—including a topiary. Just 15 miles from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, the beautifully restored château offers all the luxuries of modern living, while preserving the essence of a romantic time gone by.

[ Excerpt from Christie’s International Real Estate’s 2018 Luxury Edition — A curated collection of the world’s finest properties. Explore more properties here ]

Photography by Frederic Vasseur