Musée Christian Dior in Granville is always on my list of places to visit when I’m in the area. The museum occupies Christian Dior’s childhood home in Normandy, Villa Les Rhumbs. The garden recently reopened following the confinement and I couldn’t resist a visit to see the roses in bloom.
Christian Dior’s Childhood Home: Villa Les Rhumbs
Christian Dior was a year old when his parents Maurice and Madeleine bought the Belle Époque Villa Les Rhumbs, perched on a cliff in the seaside town of Granville. The name comes from the marine term rhumb and the 32 points of a compass rose.
Dior’s mother Madeleine created the English garden filled with her favorite flowers: roses and Lily of the Valley. Both of these flowers inspired her son endlessly in his clothing designs, perfumes, and jewelry.
The family moved to Paris when Dior was six, but kept the house as a summer home. He returned every summer to work in the garden and learn as much as he could about botany. At 20 years old, Dior designed the pond and pergola seen below.
In 1932, shortly after Dior’s mother Madeleine died, his father had to sell Les Rhumbs. The city of Granville bought the property and opened it as a garden in 1938.
Dior later said about Les Rhumbs in his autobiography Dior by Dior:
“I have the most tender and amazing memories of the house of my childhood…My life, my style, owe almost everything to its location and its architecture…Plaster of a very soft pink mixed with gray gravel, its two colors remained my favorite shades in sewing…It stood on a cliff, in the middle of a fairly large park planted with young trees that have grown with me against all odds…The property directly overlooked the sea…and it was exposed to all atmospheric storms, like what would be my life, which was not calm.”
Musée Christian Dior and the Garden
In 1997, Les Rhumbs became the Musée Christian Dior. It is the only Musée de France dedicated to a couturier. Every year the museum has a thematic temporary exhibit as well as an autumn-winter exhibit that showcases items from the permanent collections.
Musée Christian Dior is small and intimate. This year the museum will showcase “Dior Hats.” I’ve seen two of the recent exhibits, “Grace of Monaco: A Princess in Dior” and “Treasures of the Collections: 30 Years of Acquisitions.”
Whether you’re seeing the museum, walking through the garden, or stopping for a meal and tea at La Bonne Aventure, it’s worth a visit!
The Location in Granville
Musée Christian Dior is just steps from the center of Granville and overlooks the sea. On a clear day you’ll see why many call Granville the Monaco du Nord.
It’s a wonderful spot to add to a Normandy trip on its own or following a visit to the nearby Mont Saint-Michel. For travel planning assistance, contact me here.
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