The French poet Charles Péguy (1873-1914) stayed in this villa, in Saint Witz in the Val d’Oise, just before his death. Carefully restored, the house retains its 19th-century facade and its lovely proportions, while the interior has been decorated with an eye to comfort and modern minimalism by owner Bruno Guatieri, using old marble, delicate patinas, lacquered metalwork and silk curtains that beautifully filter the light. On the first floor, the Charles Péguy room plays on contrasts, with wide black and white stripes; the two rooms on the second floor, L’Antique and L’Alcôve, are done in soft shades of gray. Bathrooms have been fitted with designer basins and footed bathtubs. Most of the furnishings are Italian, reflecting Guatieri’s origins and his admiration for his grandmother Brigida, “a formidable cook, born in Molise, the truffle country near Abruzzo”. Guatieri, who cooks dinner for his guests every evening and happily offers cooking classes, seems to have inherited her culinary talent—judging by his seafood ravioli, his Sorrentina lasagne and his panna cotta—as well as an Italian sense of generosity and conviviality.
Saint Witz is easily accessible from Paris, just 19 miles away on the A1 autoroute. You can also take the RER to Fosses or Roissy. But you’ll feel like you’ve traveled much farther, deep into la campagne, when you visit the nearby forest of Montmorency and the towns of Senlis and especially Chantilly, with its wonderful château housing the rich Musée Condé, and the Grandes Ecuries, the handsome stables with live equestrian performances.
3 rue Charles Péguy, Saint Witz, 01.34.68.30.98. Doubles from €99. website
Originally published in the November 2009 issue of France Today; updated in March 2012