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A little mystery in La Napoule: Clews' daydream

Marie and Henry Clews | shimown / CC-BY-SA
Castle La Napoule castle

The current castle dates back to the 20th century! I swear... entirely rebuilt by Henry Clews, an American artist who bought the ruin in 1918... Henry Clews (1876-1937)?

The heir to a big fortune: his dad, an English lord emigrated in New-York and built up his empire in Wall Street. But Henry wasn’t interested in business. He was an artist! So he left for France: Paris, then the Côte d’Azur.

Here, he fell in love with Napoule castle. He bought it in 1918 and settled with his wife Marie and Mancha, their young son (Mancha because of Don Quixote, Henry was a big fan).

Marie was an architect: she recreated a Mediterranean garden between the fortress’ walls.

Henry, who was a sculptor in his spare time (his friend Rodin gave him advices), added machicolation, crenelated walls, Gothic cloister and an incredible Rococo and Gothic inner decoration.

Everywhere, he put little eccentric touches! Look: above the entrance, we can read the sentence "Once upon a time" and also "Myth-Mystery-Mirth"!

And it was not over. Just imagine: the Clews had the most amazing parties in Côte d’Azur! The count Kessler, who often came in the Riviera like other European upper crust at that time, described a party in La Napoule: Henry was dressed in white, in a silk suit.

By his side, Marie was dressed up as the Lady of the Night. And even the two white bulldogs stood to attention, next to them!

But the Clews also mingled with local people. Besides, Marie learned French and succeeded in speaking fluently.

So, they spent 18 years here, to restore the castle in middle of their menagerie including fawns, peacocks and white flamingos. An awaken dream! After Henry’s death in 1937, then Mary’s one in 1955, the foundation Clews was created in the castle.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!