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29 july 2016

The rock & roll destiny of the Avenières castle © DR

The rock & roll destiny of the Avenières castle

Cécile Sepulchre

It needed the unusual combination of a Hindu astronomer and an eccentric American to give the Avenières castle its exquisite note of madness. Before becoming a secret lair of the jet set and music stars, this Sleeping Beauty palace, perched in the hills of Annecy, had an incredible story. In 1907, a wealthy heiress, Mary Wallace Shilitto falls in love with the sublime panorama of the massif of Salève, between Geneva and Annecy and decided to build a castle in the heart of French gardens. With her friend, the writer Marcelle Senard, she runs the world to find rare items and drapes before falling into the arms of an Indo-Mauritian, Assan Dina, 43 years old, brilliant astronomer, hydro engineer, astronomy and esotericism enthusiast. Her Hindu husband introduced electricity and imagined drawing a stunning chapel where the golden mosaic zodiac, Egyptian tarot and Kabbalah mingle … After the death of her husband, Mary Shilitto’s enthusiasm for his project is dying down and she will eventually sell the property in 1936. Henceforth the property goes from hand to hand and hosts several educational institutions. Polish Ursulines are hosting children until 1939, not without first concealed sulphurous mosaics of the chapel under the wooden plates. Then comes the Red Cross during the war. In 1950 the upscale Juilly college settled there for twenty years. Among its students are the first famous names: Claude Brasseur, Philippe Noiret and Jean-Jacques Debout and … the gangster Jacques Mesrine!
The time is not yet glamorous. Abandoned, the home addresses the 90s in misery and is invaded by vegetation. Only the attending of the ghosts from the past,we say with suspicion in the region. We meet more surely looters and neighborhood children, who make it their playground. One of these children will become the savior of the sleeping castle. Nicolas Odin, the son of a neighboring village, manages to convince her family to invest in the property in 1994. He rolls up his sleeves, and tirelessly restores the castle of Avenières, gradually raising it from simple inn to a ranking Relais & Châteaux in 2014. Over intense years, the house gains independence and refinement. His wife Laurence launches into handcrafted decoration to achieve suites, all different, sometimes surprisingly baroque, just like the “return from India» suite in bright hangings, the African room, or the music room and its ancient tapestries. Lightness enthusiasts prefer the immaculate net curtains from the Louisiana Suite. A more contemporary extension, “the house of the squirrel” is created below, offering superior comfort and exceptional views. Build to turn the area as independent as possible, Nicolas Odin, also created an organic vegetable garden, a carpentry. And continues to move upmarket. Until the launch of a spa, you can do yoga overlooking the valley and enjoy a gym session. Or flying by helicopter over the mountains and surrounding lakes. The restaurant is also now able to claim its first star, between its gastronomic menu and its chic detox menus. Close to the great chefs of the region, including Yoann Conte, Nicolas Otin also organizes informal twinning with good neighboring tables. Until the stars come spend time in the establishment, actors and musicians are already queuing up for filming, recordings or private stays: Catherine Frot, Sophia Loren, Shania Twain, André Dussollier, Geraldine Chaplin, Rufus, Paco Rabannes, Juan Ripolles, Jean-Marc Barr, Laurent Gerra, Paul Personne, Gilberto Gil, Indochina … Surprising for such a quiet place. Musicians are particularly fond of such atypical discretion of the property and this young squire a little rock & roll that does not hesitate to shake the furniture for them, while ensuring tranquility. Nicolas Odin retains fond memories of the arrival of Phil Collins. « We had been waiting for him for a recording for several weeks. Phil Collins entered the hotel lobby, and without word, he went straight to sit at the piano at the reception and started playing. I stood motionless in the corner. An extraordinary moment. ” It is with such moments that are built places of legends.

Parc du Château des Avenières. Une Halte juillet 2016 PLUMEVOYAGE @plumevoyagemagazine © DR

suites du Château des Avenières. Une Halte juillet 2016 PLUMEVOYAGE @plumevoyagemagazine © DR
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