For a lifetime, you can pass without a glance in front of the discreet gate at 49 Montée de Costebelle and without suspecting the jewel it hides. There, at the end of the short alley, a peaceful building benefits from a – very – vast park.
A stone’s throw from the city, we are in the countryside. The streetlights are far away. Make way for Aleppo pines, eucalyptus and wild grass. A change of scenery that Marie-Magdeleine Lessana experienced during her earliest childhood and that she wanted to find again.
She has indeed just recovered the keys to this domain, which is a little lost in classic family stories. After having been in the hands of British aristocrats (Queen Victoria period), the villa indeed belonged to the father of Marie-Magdeleine, a former test pilot at the Palyvestre.
So much for the rich past. The future, the new owner intends to write it by transforming the domain into “private place of art of culture”. A space that could live between exhibition and concert…
Initially, the 18th century bastide and its very vast domain was a farm. In the 19th century, the vines and olive trees seduced British aristocrats, who transformed the property into an opulent villa.
Queen Victoria herself is said to have been seen there in 1892.
A few years later, the naval aviation made it into official accommodation for its Palyvestre test pilots. Among them, the father of Marie-Magdeleine Lessana, who fell in love with the site and managed to become its owner.
Psychoanalyst and writer Marie-Magdeleine Lessana spent part of her childhood here. Today, she is rehabilitating the house, thinking more about the future that she has in store for it than about the memories that she keeps there.
The Villa Magdala will open its doors for the first time on Saturday July 2 to make discover an exhibition dedicated to the English painter Richard Ballard (here in self-portrait). Please note that the exhibition is only visible by appointment (firstname.lastname@example.org), weekends from 3 to 8 p.m., until September 18.
On the garden side, the villa and its park should also host concerts and outdoor events. The complement to its exhibition activity. The owner is also considering the possibility of making the place privatized for stays or ceremonies.
There are “only” 3 hectares of parkland left around the house. But, initially, the exploitation extended on a surface 5 times larger.