When my Brit friends from Uzes invited me to tag along with them to the weekend home of the Duke of Windsor and Wallace Simpson outside Paris, I was thrilled. No one really knows how much I love and follow the British Royals. It’s a great addition to my France travel guide, too.
I vividly remember the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. A Queen Elizabeth doll was my prized possession.
I’m so closely attached to the Royal Family that I went to the wedding of Will and Kate. Yes, I was one of the hundreds of thousands of spectators at Will and Kate’s wedding that glorious April day.
In fact, it was while I was on the same side of the ocean for the wedding that a friend invited me to visit in France. We spent a Saturday Market Day in Uzes. The rest is history.
The King and I
Nothing could have prepared me for the fact that I would spend four days and nights in the same house as the former King of England and famous American divorcee, Wallace Simpson. Who knew I’d be stomping the same garden paths and walking the same village streets?
For any who are too young, or aren’t familiar with the story of King Edward and Wallace Simpson, it’s probably the most romantic love story in modern history (Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton next?) Edward was King of England after the death of his father; he was having an affair with Wallace Simpson — an American divorcee; he abdicated the throne to marry Wallace Simpson; and they “exiled” to France. If you’d like to see a recent recreation of the events, you must watch the TV series “The Crown.”
The stay at the Duke and Wallace Simpson’s country home was planned for the week following my return to France from the States. (Hopefully, you traveled with me through CDG airport; Cook’n with Class; and Montmartre.)
After a few days in Paris, I left for Gif-Sur-Yvette by train from Gard du Nord in Paris to meet my friends who were driving up from Uzes.
Yes, I had a ton of luggage with me from the States to haul onto the train. Luckily a lovely young man who was catching the same train gave me a hand.
When I arrived at the train station in Gif-Sur-Yvette, I was “gathered” by my friends and delivered to Le Moulin de la Tuilerie, only a few miles away.
What a wonderful sight!
Here’s a slideshow of the home, cottages and grounds.
A Brief history of Le Mouline de la Tuilerie
Le Moulin de la Tuilerie was the weekend home of the Duke and Duchess and the only property the couple owned together. Their formal residence in France was in Paris, 4 Route du Champ d’Entrainement in the Bois de Bologna. The history of Le Moulin dates back to the 1500’s when a working mill was on the site. The current main house was built in 1734 — as indicated by the date carved over the transom of the front door. At that time the house and grounds were known as “Moulin Aubert.” When Edward and the Duchess took possession of Moulin Aubert in 1952, the Duchess renamed the estate after the adjacent village — ” Moulin Tuilierie.”
Le Moulin de la Tuilerie was owned and occupied by the Windsors until the Duke’s death in 1972. In 2009 it became a Landmark Trust property.
An inside look
After purchasing Le Moulin, the Windsors spent two years redecorating the interior and guests houses. With the help of renowned designer Stéphane Boudin, the home was tastefully filled with bright colors and furnishings the couple had amassed during their lives separately and together. Today, only a few of the same decorations remain.
During our stay at Le Moulin, the four couples — and me — occupied the five bedrooms in the main house. My room was easily decided because it was the only single. For the other four bedrooms, my friends drew straws. Two couples joined me in the “servants quarters.” The remaining two were given the room of the Duchess and the room of the Duke. As you can see, there was nothing opulent about the living quarters of Le Moulin. Just utilitarian and comfortably dressed in a 1950’s way.
The living room upstairs, on the other hand, was huge and inviting. During the time of the Windsors the room was used especially for entertaining. (See photos above) There are framed photographs that show the Duke and Duchess surrounded by elegantly-dressed and famous guests.
The kitchen area was added as the home morphed from a private residence to a Landmark Trust site.
Wallace Simpson Parties
Not to be outdone by royalty, my Brit friends and I put on our own “Royals Nights.” Cocktails were served promptly at seven and dinner at eight. Two evenings we all dressed the part of Wallace Simpson and the Duke. Glam, eh?
Our cocktails, aperos and meals were devine.
All followed by fun and games… and just a bit of drama.
Note: Mas d’Augustine lovebirds, Jane and Gary Langston, made the best of their holiday away from the B&B.
Out and about
During the daytime there was plenty of sightseeing to do. Walking through the village of Gif-Sur-Yvette, for one.
Then a day in Paris that started with an hour-long train ride, a hop-on bus tour and a fabulous lunch.
The most magnificent of all — a day in Versailles!
Then … it was time to say “goodbye”…
Yet another memory …
Where next? Stay tuned …