<p>La Villa Rocabella in Le Pradet, France</p>

La Villa Rocabella in Le Pradet, France

Downton Abbey: French villa in new film is available to rent - for £19k a night

Swanky property comes with an outdoor, heated pool and Jacuzzi, lounge with fireplace, petanque court and yoga deck

Lucy Thackray
Tuesday 03 May 2022 13:18
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Cinemagoers watching the Downton Abbey: A New Era film could well find themselves drooling over the sumptuous Belle-Époque villa the Crawley family decamps to in the South of France.

The good news is, fans can actually hire the villa for private use - if they happen to have £42,000 a week to spare.

La Villa Rocabella, in Le Pradet near Toulon on the Cote d’Azur, stood in for the family’s “Villa of the Doves” in the movie sequel, which hit cinemas on Friday.

Owned by a wealthy French technology entrepreneur, it was bought for £12m in 2020 and is now mainly hired for conferences and ultra-wealthy private events.

The wedding-cake villa, framed by tall palms, sleeps up to 46 guests (including cottages on the grounds) and is set in three hectares of pristine French Riviera woodland. Hyeres airport is a 15km-drive away.

In true aristocratic Downton style, it comes with an outdoor, heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi, lounge with fireplace, petanque court and yoga deck.

A still from the new Downton Abbey movie A New Era

Private-hire guests also enjoy the services of a chef, maitre d’hotel and housekeeper, while kiteboarding, paddle-boarding, scuba diving and sailing activities are offered on its small beach.

The conference-booking website Kactus.com gives a quote of €23,000 (£19,327) a night for hiring the villa at full capacity.

Those on a smaller budget can hire the more modest houses on the estate, such as the four-bedroom cottage.

The villa has also appeared onscreen in An Ideal Man (2014), Les estivants (2018), and The Man Who Sold His Skin (2019).

The movie is a sequel to Downton Abbey’s first feature film outing in 2019, and stars Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West.

The film’s producers told Condé Nast Traveller that La Villa Rocabella had been chosen from a shortlist of five before production.

“We’ve never seen the family travel beyond their own shores before. I’d always wanted to bring the Crawleys to Europe and to the Riviera in particular because it is a part of Europe that the English upper classes would have visited,” said producer Gareth Neame.

“It overlooked the Mediterranean and it had gorgeous gardens and its own little secluded beach,” added fellow producer Liz Trubridge.

“It provided lots of space and vistas for dinners outside on the terrace – situations we would rarely see the Crawleys in.”

Production designer Donal Woods told CNT that the team had filled the largely empty property with contemporary 1920s art.

“The English aristocracy would have had lots of heavy gilt framed paintings and family portraits in their home and the French were a little more modern and forward thinking at that time,” he said.

“We filled the rooms with a few pieces of 1920s ‘modern art’, but mostly we had bare walls and far less furniture because it was a holiday home.”

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