Who else but Yves Saint Laurent, the greatest fashion designer of the modern age, could decorate his drawing room with a mural of mauve and green water lilies in homage to Monet - and make it work? Or name each of his eight bedrooms after a character in Proust's A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu? But it is arcane touches like these - and nothing as banal as the smell of freshly-roasted coffee or a useful number of power-points - that will be seducing prospective buyers of Château Gabriel, the Normandy mansion which Saint Laurent purchased as a holiday home in 1978 and which is now up for sale, with a tag of £13m.
Located just outside the chic resort of Deauville, the 9,000sq ft property is one of several boltholes used by the notoriously reclusive couturier, 69, who retired from fashion in 2002. It features a grass helipad and a manicured garden that is home to Europe's largest collections of hydrangeas. There's nothing as common as a swimming pool on the grounds, but there are wild orchids and a Japanese garden featuring a 700-metre stream.
One of fashion's most revered creators, he masterminded the restoration of the house (built in 1874) and the garden - and it shows. For their part, Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, his life and business partner, liked to travel the 66-acre estate in a pony and trap.
In recent years the three-storey Normandy home has become surplus to requirements. Saint Laurent still owns property in Paris, Provence and Majorelle. In the heart of Marrakech, the Majorelle Jardins are now a tourist attraction and its vivid design, where bougainvilleas contrast with royal blue masonry, has been widely copied.
Château Gabriel has always been a far more private home. But now it is being touted by estate agents Emile Garcin as the ultimate hideaway - which might explain why Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are among those said to be interested. Should the new lord of the manor require further seclusion, there's always the Russian-style wooden dacha where Saint Laurent spent hours, alone, sketching the designs that were worn by the likes of his friends, Catherine Deneuve and Marie-Hélène de Rothschild and desired by women the world over.
Chateau Gabriel is being sold through Philippe Chevalier with Agence Emile Garcin Deauville, 5 rue de l'Université, Paris, +331 42 61 73 38, www.emilegarcin.comReuse content