I set foot in this pretty corner of Normandy back in 2001 after having spent a few years in Paris and abroad and after a career in teaching languages - German, French and English. My husband and I were Immediately seduced by Honfleur and the Pays d'Auge, so we started looking for our dream house. And we found the Pavillon de la Reine!
You may spot it, just above la Ferme and la Bergerie: a small manor house, a kind of "Petit Trianon", built in 1787 for Queen Marie-Antoinette and now a listed building.
But it was also home to Lucie Delarue-Mardrus, for 30 years. Lucie was a poet born in Honfleur and married to the famous orient specialist, Joseph-Charles Mardrus, who was the aristocratie's darling at the turn of the 20th century.
Lucie and her husband discovered this "18th century ruin" in 1907, nicknamed "the devil's castle" by the local farmers It is full of charm and so poetic. However, the muse and its pygmalion decided to settle down there.
What better place indeed to find the inspiration and write her numerous novels, poems and unleash her creativity.
We were charmed by the story and by the place: nestled on the hillside overlooking Honfleur and the Seine estuary, the house has become our refuge in altitude.
I like to believe that the spirits of all the famous people whom Lucie and her husband knew, like Rodin, Van Dongen, Debussy or Edmond Rostand, still haunt the place.
A few years later we bought the two very run down houses further down the hill. We felt we had to preserve this architectural heritage and it seemed obvious to restaure them while respecting the spirit of the place.
We opened the houses as rentals in summer 2012. And the name was obvious: 1001 Nuits was born!
After my husband and 20 year companion passed away, in 2014, I consistently tried to keep this place alive: I restored the old greenhouse, I created a vegetable garden and I'm learning about permaculture.
Not once do I regret my Parisian life and I get up every morning thinking how lucky I am to live here. Keeping this place alive is also a way of keeping my husband's memory alive and his love for it. a