Our magical journey to Christian Dior's family home in Granville, France now a museum displaying to-die-for Dior garments.
The 3 hour rather flat and uninteresting train ride from Paris to Granville on the coast of Normandy did not prepare us for the twenty four hours of magic visiting the family home and gardens of Christian Dior - the sole purpose of our trip.
Dior's hydrangea pink house with white paintwork and a slate grey tiled roof sits on the clifftop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
The large 3 story house has been turned into a small and elegant museum which displays over 60 sumptuously beaded, tailored haute couture dresses, gowns and suits in every delicious colour imaginable, worn by the crème de la crème of international society including Princesses Grace, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot, Maria Callas, and many more. A small shop in the foyer sells gifts, books and jewellery exclusive and very appropriate to the museum. A retrospective of Marc Bohan, artistic director of the House of Dior from 1961 -1989, was on. It was fascinating to observe the changes in lifestyle and elegance which occurred over the three decades M. Bohan was in charge.
And now for the garden .... it is a jewel of a museum in its own right with giant tableaux of photographs of Dior clients dressed in Dior – dramatic in black and white intertwined with glorious colourful flowerbeds, rose trellises and ocean vistas. Dior was inspired by scents of flowers blooming profusely in his garden. In a unique way of allowing the visitor the experience of smelling his many popular perfumes while looking at the flowers which inspired it, discreet stands with a 'lift and sniff' type format were placed throughout the garden. You were encouraged to lift the flap and a gentle waft of the perfume escaped enveloping you immediately in a cloud of Dior perfume. Even men's cologne wass displayed like this. A truly beautiful and memorable experience.
The town of Granville itself had a bit of an odd atmosphere. It doesn't quite make the chic seaside resort it might have been. It has a real serious purpose instead. One of the largest rehabilitation hospitals in France is here – with spectacular sea views and sea air to help the patients recover. The town is bustling with people – snazzy chemist shops selling Dior cosmetics, tourist shops with the typical array of souvenirs and a number of funky clothes shops. We stayed the night at the Mercure in an enormous room with a balcony.