Known colloquially as “Collete”, the French writer, dancer, and beauty salon owner was known as one of the most liberated women of her time.
This old house museum in Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, in Burgundy, France is Colette’s birthplace and the home where she spent the first 18 formative years of her life.
This is the place where the young Gabrielle Colette acquired a love of nature and beautiful detail, both of which profoundly inspired her later literary work.
She made her reputation as a writer and journalist, then later, a music-hall dancer and director of a beauty salon.
Colette was born in Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, a small town in Yonne, on January 28, 1873. She was the youngest of four children.
This chateau was Collett’s childhood paradise, but tragically, she had to leave it forever in 1891, due to her family’s financial difficulties.
With its slate roof and blue shutters, the Colette house stands out from the other homes in the village. It has 13 rooms, an attic, outbuildings, and multiple cellars.
Colette was so fond of this house and so heartbroken to have been forced to leave it, that the melancholy of the place was echoed in her writings for decades.
From her first novel, Claudine à l’école , published in 1900, to Ces dames vieilles , her last published text in 1954, the house in Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye was recreated again and again in gorgeous detail in her descriptive narratives.
What a delightful place to be haunted by as a writer!
“Here Colette was born”
In 2016, five years after its acquisition by the Association “La Maison de Colette” and after a thorough restoration, the native home of Colette opened its doors to the public as both an old house museum and a tribute to the famed French writer.
What is so fabulous about this place is that the public is invited right into a bourgeois house from the second half of the 19th century, as if its occupants were still living there, without any barriers or ropes.
It is a very intimate experience of stepping back in time to the magical place that inspired one of France’s most illustrious woman writers.
Since nothing is off limits in this home, they only do tours with a maximum of 15 people at a time. That way, attendees can get an in-depth and personal experience as guests in Colette’s family home.
This would be House Crazy Sarah’s dream job: a tour guide in a famous writer’s house!
There were few photos online of the kitchen… just a couple of close-in tableau images of that lovely blue stove with the copper pots on top.
But here is the enchanted view from the kitchen out into one of the many gardens surrounding the home:
House Crazy Sarah did come across a watercolor rendering of the kitchen that gives us a better idea of what the room looked like.
The curators remained as period-appropriate as possible with the decor and furnishings.
On display are some of Colette’s writings.
Below, a cozy attic bedroom…
While the interior conjures the fine luxury of a certain period in French history, the gardens outside capture the essence of Colette’s carefree and storied childhood.
These are images from the gardens at the back of the manor.
But across the street in front of the home, the property’s gardens continue.
The home’s official website has this wonderful declaration:
La Maison de Colette can be visited as one turns the pages of a book. A “house-book”, to use the expression of journalist and novelist Jérôme Garcin, which still retains its poetry and its power of inspiration.
A house book!
Our dear Colette, what a legacy you have left us!
Indeed, lovely! If the walls could only talk!!!