Hotel de Caumont A place of history

Hôtel
de Caumont

A place of history

The Hôtel de Caumont is one of the most prestigious old residences in Aix, in the heart of the Mazarin district. It is one of the rare urban residences in Aix that has a courtyard and a garden, which is reminiscent of chateaus standing in the middle of their parks, enabling the owners to highlight their aristocratic status.

1646 The Birth of the Mazarin Quarter

1646

The Birth of the Mazarin Quarter

This checkerboard district, which was a veritable luxury housing complex for the parliamentarians and grand bourgeoisie of the era, was designed in the seventeenth century by Archbishop Mazarin, the Cardinal’s brother.

1646 The Birth of the Mazarin Quarter

In the seventeenth century, the city of Aix-en-Provence experienced a large increase in its population. Archbishop Michel Mazarin, brother of the famous cardinal, oversaw the expansion of the city with the creation of the Mazarin quarter, laid out in a chequerboard pattern with the Place des Quatre-Dauphins at its heart.

1715 Construction of the Hôtel de Caumont

1715

Construction of the Hôtel de Caumont

François Rolland de Réauville, the Marquis de Cabannes, sought to build a mansion worthy of his position as second President of the Court of Auditors at Aix-en-Provence in the new Mazarin quarter. 

1715 Construction of the Hôtel de Caumont

François Rolland de Réauville asked Robert de Cotte, head architect and administrator of the Bâtiments du Roi [Royal Residences], to design a mansion for him that would stand out from the other houses in the area. On 4 April 1715, construction work commenced under the direction of the Aixois architect Georges Vallon.

The death of François Rolland de Réauville did not put an end to the project. Thanks to Robert de Cotte’s design, the former’s descendants pursued the construction of the residence which would be completed some thirty years after the death of the Marquis.

1758 The Hôtel de Bruny

1758

The Hôtel de Bruny

François Bruny de la Tour-d'Aigues, the richest ship-owner, merchant and banker of Marseilles bought the private mansion in 1758. The residence changed name to the Hôtel de Bruny.

1758 The Hôtel de Bruny

François Bruny de la Tour-d'Aigues, the richest ship-owner, merchant and banker of Marseilles bought the private mansion in 1758. The residence changed name to the Hôtel de Bruny.

Following the death of François de Bruny on 22 November 1772, his son Jean-Baptiste inherited the residence. A keen art collector and member of the painting academy of Marseille, the latter collected numerous artworks in his Aix residence. The Hôtel de Bruny was the setting for countless parties, attended by the elite and the city’s wealthiest residents. 

1796 Pauline de Caumont

1796

Pauline de Caumont

Following the death of Jean-Baptiste Jérôme de Bruny, the mansion was left to his son Marie-Jean-Joseph who died shortly afterwards. His sister, Pauline, inherited the house.

1796 Pauline de Caumont

Pauline, born Bruny de la Tour d’Aigues, had married the Marquis de Caumont, Amable Seytres. The residence once again changed names: it was now the Hôtel de Caumont. Although the marriage soon ended in disaster, a nostalgic Pauline kept the mansion, which for her was full of childhood memories.

In 1850, Pauline de Caumont died without an heir. She designated her cousin Louis-Charles de Bruny as the sole heir of the residence. The latter sold the property shortly thereafter. The property then changed hands a number of times and its condition gradually deteriorated.

1900 The Hotel in the 20th century

1900

The Hotel in the 20th century

1900 The Hotel in the 20th century

In 1939, by the beginning of the Second World War, the mansion has completely lost its former glory. It had been divided into several apartments run by Hélène Ardevol (1892-1976), who was the building superintendent and a member of the Resistance. She bravely sheltered many Resistance fighters at the mansion before it was seized by the authorities.

General Isenbart was the last private owner of the Hôtel de Caumont. Having undertaken the restoration of the residence out of love for the property, he sold it to the city of Aix-en-Provence in 1964. The building then became the Darius Milhaud National Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

In 1990, the entire residence has been listed as a historic monument. 65 years earlier, in 1925, the private mansion had already been recognized by the French heritage body, Monuments Historiques. The staircase, classified as a first-rate decorative element, was one of the first items to be listed.

2010 Culturespaces the new owner

2010

Culturespaces, the new owner

To fund the construction of its new music conservatory, the City of Aix-en-Provence sold the Hôtel de Caumont to Culturespaces. A vast restoration campaign was scheduled and 300 years after the first stone was laid, the building is about to write a new chapter in its architectural history. 

2010 Culturespaces the new owner

Under the guidance of the Museums and Heritage Department of the City of Aix-en-Provence, and with the help of historians, heritage architects and specialised restorers, a detailed assessment was carried out in order to determine the extent and nature of the renovation work needed to restore the residence to its former glory. 

In July 2013, the restoration campaign, overseen by the DRAC [regional arts council], the Regional Conservation Department of Historical Monuments and one of the head architects with the conservation body, Bâtiments de France, began. The first phase of work included the renovation of the facade allowing the typical Aix Baroque style to be seen to full effect.

The Hôtel de Caumont was subjected to inappropriate architectural transformations during the 20th century. The interior was renovated according to the original design by Robert de Cotte, and the decorative plaster work was carefully restored.

Finally, the gardens were landscaped according to their original design thanks to the availability of archival documents.

2015 Opening of the Hotel de Caumont

2015

Opening of the Hôtel de Caumont

 

On 15 April 2015, the Hôtel de Caumont opened its doors. Every year, it hosts two temporary exhibitions devoted to the great names in art. A film on painter Cézanne and his connection to the region, Cézanne au pays d’Aix, is shown every day. A wide variety of concerts, musical performances and lectures complete the programme.

2015 Opening of the Hotel de Caumont