The Villa Savoye … in Poissy … a Le Corbusier marvel …

  Are you an architect? If so, visiting the Villa Savoye is for you. Its architect – Le Corbusier, real name Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris – designed the villa in 1931 for a couple named Savoye. That was 85 years ago and the house’s design was revolutionary. The house is in the town of Poissy, 23.8 kms […]

Poissy Villa Savoye Feb 2016 1

Villa Savoye in Poissy (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

 

Are you an architect? If so, visiting the Villa Savoye is for you.

Its architect – Le Corbusier, real name Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris – designed the villa in 1931 for a couple named Savoye.

That was 85 years ago and the house’s design was revolutionary.

The house is in the town of Poissy, 23.8 kms (14.8 miles) west of Paris and it is reached on the fast RER A5 Métro train. (Poissy is the last stop on the line.)

Do note that a Métro train stops at each station along the line so the ride to Poissy will take about 45 minutes. Therefore, if you do not want the impression that you are on the ‘milk train’, take the ‘Transilien’ train from Gare St-Lazare SNCF station which will get you to Poissy in about 15 minutes, some trains stopping just once along the way.

Whichever way you go, you can do the return trip on the ‘Mobilis’ day transport ticket. You will have to buy the 5-zone ticket which costs €16.60, but the ticket will be valid until midnight and you can ride the Métro trains and the buses all day on the ticket, and this is not just in Paris but also in the capital’s suburbs – the Ile de France.

Having arrived in Poissy, you are however not yet standing right in front of the house. No. At the station you would have to take a bus to the house. It is bus No 50 and your stop for the house will be ‘Villa Savoye’. Your Mobilis 5-zone ticket covers the bus trip: just show the driver the ticket, and he will nod in your direction and you need not fear being dragged off the bus by inspectors because you are riding without a ticket. Returning to the station, the bus stop is on the other side of the road.

Villa Savoye is a white concrete building supported by concrete columns known as ‘pilotis’ – in English ‘piers’. Meant to be the Savoyes’ summer residence the outer walls of its two floors are horizontal windows separated by thin concrete strips, and the roof is flat and serves as a garden and terrace.

Villa Savoye : Terrace on the Roof (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Villa Savoye : Terrace on the Roof (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

 

Villa Savoye another corner of the rooftop terrace (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

Villa Savoye another corner of the rooftop terrace (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

The house has no furniture which I think is a pity because it would have been interesting to see what furniture Le Corbusier would have envisaged for this house. The bathrooms do though still have their tubs and bidets.

Villa Savoy Bathroom (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Villa Savoy Bathroom (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Villa Savoye Bidet (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Villa Savoye Bidet (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Visiting hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you can visit every day but Monday.

And – it will cost you €7.50 to visit the house, which, frankly, I think it is too much!

The town of Poissy is indeed worth a visit though it is rather more pleasant than it is pretty.

It was in Poissy where Saint Louis (1214-1270), King of France, was born and baptised. He reigned from 1226 to his death. He died in the 8th Crusade, in what is today Tunisia, of dysentery.

Saint Louis' baptismal font (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Saint Louis’ baptismal font (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Today, this town of 36,000 inhabitants known as the Pisciacais hosts the Peugeot automobile plant. This means that from 6 p.m. rather a lot of young men pour into the bistrots and bars for a drink before they continue on home. Once Ford and Chrysler too had plants in the town.

As for Le Corbusier, designer of the Villa Savoye, he was at the time, and is still today, considered as one of the pioneers of ‘modern architecture’. He is often mistaken for having been French, but he was Swiss, born near to Neuchatel. He did though become a French national in 1930. He said that he did not want to be known as ‘Jeanneret’ or ‘Jeanneret-Gris’ so adopted the name of one of his maternal grandfather – a man named  Lecorbésier.

Le Corbusier’s career spanned fifty years and one of his projects was the outlay of the Indian city of Chandigarh.

The High Court of Chandigahr designed by Le Corbusier

The High Court of Chandigahr designed by Le Corbusier

He died while swimming in the sea off the coast of the Mediterranean town of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin to which he had retired. His body was found by bathers on August 27 1965 and it was assumed that he had suffered a heart attack.  Born in 1887, he was 77 years old. He lies buried with his wife in a tomb in the town’s cemetery: his wife’s death having preceded his, he had designed their tomb.

A bookshop in Poissy (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

A bookshop in Poissy (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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