St Tropez has always been associated with Brigitte Bardot’s pouting lips and polka dot bikini. I have always been more intrigued by the inscrutable beauty and ferocious talent of Jeanne Moreau, who wisely knowing the impact of living in the constant glare of the paparazzi, chose to buy and renovate Le Preverger hidden in the hills around La Garde Freinet. She was able to buy her baguettes in peace and dip in and out of the fast pace as she pleased.
I was introduced to the area by Tony Richardson, when I was eighteen and have been going there ever since. Jeanne and Tony had fallen in love in 1967 when he directed her in ‘Mademoiselle’ and she found him an abandoned hamlet nearby which he aptly named Le Nid du Duc .So I too learnt, from Tony, the comforting rhythms of up early to the markets, peace and privacy and knowing that all the pleasures of the Club 55, the boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs were just a short drive away, and I find that the most civilized way to enjoy St Tropez.
So when John Spence, the new owner, asked me whether I was interested in representing Le Preverger, I leapt at the chance, having heard about the house for so many years.
Whereas Le Nid du Duc has remained within the family Le Preverger has had three incarnations. One summer when I was staying with Tony, Vanessa Redgrave showed up on the back of Timothy Dalton’s motorbike : this used to be a normal way to get to the South of France and apparently Bernard and Laura Ashley found Le Preverger as they wound round the steep hills at fast speed on his motorbike. Jeanne Moreau duly sold it to them and they made many improvements. She presumably decorated it with her floral fabrics; they landscaped and created beautiful gardens and Bernard touchingly built a railway set and track for his son on the hill behind the guest house that looks like a mini Roman amphitheatre. It used to burrow through a tunnel and whizz around what is now the games room.