When my Brit friends from Uzès invited me to tag along with them to “live like a King” at 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 French travels, too.
I vividly remember the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. A Queen Elizabeth doll was my prized possession.
I’m so firmly attached to the Royal Family that I went to the wedding of Will and Kate. Yes, I was among hundreds of thousands of spectators at Will and Kate’s wedding that glorious April day.
In fact, while I was on the same side of the ocean for the wedding, a friend invited me to visit France. We spent a Saturday Market Day in Uzes. The rest is history.
Live Like a King
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 the famous American divorcee, Wallace Simpson. Who knew I’d stomp the same garden paths and walk the same village streets?
For any who are too young or unfamiliar 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 his father’s death; he was having an affair with Wallace Simpson — an American divorcee; he abdicated the throne to marry Wallace Simpson, and they were “exiled” to France. If you’d like to see a new recreation of the events, 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 from the States to haul onto the train. Luckily, a lovely young man 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 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 1500s when a working mill was on the site. The current main house was built in 1734 — as indicated by the date carved over the front door’s transom. 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.”
The Windsors owned Le Moulin de la Tuilerie until the Duke’s death in 1972. In 2009, it became a Landmark Trust property.
An inside look
After purchasing Le Moulin, the Windsors redecorated the interior and guest houses for two years. 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 I occupied the five bedrooms in the main house. My room was quickly 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 1950s way.
The living room upstairs, on the other hand, was huge and inviting. During the Windsors, the room was used primarily for entertaining. (See photos above) Framed photographs 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.
Live Like a King: Wallace Simpson Dinner 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. On two evenings, we all dressed the part of Wallace Simpson and the Duke.
Our cocktails, aperos, and meals were divine.
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.
Live Like a King: 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 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 …