The History of the Villa, a family story
(Formerly the Château du Pélavé)


Like all great stories, that of the Villa Arthus Bertrand (formerly the Château de Pélavé) begins with a lot of love and an undying passion for the Île de Noirmoutier, between forest and sea.

The Domaine du Pélavé owes its château to the Labbé family. In 1880, Ludovic Labbé, stockbroker and commercial court judge, his wife Edith, née Roné, and their 4 children Marie-Thérèse, 14 years old, Frédéric, 12, Louis, 11, and Marie, 4, shared their lives between their beautiful apartment on the Boulevard Haussmann and their holiday home, Bois Joli, in Noirmoutier, situated on a 16-hectare agricultural estate.

This land had been the site of various buildings over the years, many of which had provided shelter for families and loved ones, but this first true house, Bois Joli, became a privileged home that saw some happy years and shared moments of joy. However, after the death of Frédéric at the age of just 15, Edith decided she wanted to demolish Bois Joli to build a new villa called Ker Joyeux, on the raised land of Pélavé. In 1900, the matriarch lost her mother, who had passed on to her a love for the island, as well as her husband and her eldest daughter. Once again, Edith opted to give new life to the estate by razing Ker Joyeux and embarking on a new family home. But this time it would be a château ...

The magnificent building was the work of her brother-in-law, the architect Ambroise Baudry, and was supposedly inspired by the Trianon or, perhaps more realistically, is simply a fine example of Victorian style. The architect, who was the husband of Edith’s sister, Fanny, had already acquired a considerable reputation for building sumptuous villas, especially when he lived in Cairo. Prior to this he had been a works inspector on the construction site of Charles Garnier's Opera House, then architect of the Hôtel de la Monnaie in Paris. Ambroise was an artist, architect, painter, engraver, art lover, great collector, traveller and adventurer at heart, and it shows in his creations.

Edith had an ambitious and bold vision for this new villa and was particularly keen to give it a modern Victorian-inspired style. Thus, the building offers all the characteristic features of the great bourgeois houses of the 19th century, including a granite facade, high windows with small panes, balustraded balconies, roof terraces, a square tower, moulded cornices, an œil de bœuf (a kind of circular window) and more. The result was majestic, but also completely comfortable, with its 22 bedrooms, living room, dining room and billiard room. In what was a real innovation for the time, the house was equipped with central heating, electricity and running water! For the garden, Edith imported palm trees directly from Morocco to create a unique palm grove.

Unfortunately, after Edith's death, the château entered a period of decline. Edith’s youngest daughter Marie left the place to settle in Nantes, but her heart always remained with the château, the dream of a lifetime. For years afterwards she would ask the building’s caretakers to make up bouquets of flowers from the garden every week to adorn the place.

Over the years, the château’s fortunes varied. It was requisitioned in 1939 to house people evacuated from the front, then two years later became occupied by the German invaders until the French Forces of the Interior took charge during the Liberation. These successive occupations, however, proved detrimental, resulting in cracks and water damage, as well as looted or damaged furniture and decorations.

The château was later taken over by the parish of Chaillot in Paris, which decided to make it a holiday home, but unfortunately failed to undertake any renovations. It was not until 1955 that new owners decided to bring the building back to life. With a lot of love, patience and kindness, they repaired, restored and reinvigorated the charm of the château by transforming it into a 3-star hotel ... Before long, the Pélavé estate would have more new owners eager to lavish their love upon it; the Arthus Bertrand family.

Heritage, passion and love are values dear to the Arthus Bertrand family. It can rightly be said that this family saga began with a meeting between two people, two families, but above all two visionary houses.

In 1803, Arthus Claude Bertrand, a former naval officer, opened a bookshop on the banks of the Seine which would later become the official publishing house of the Ministry of the Navy. This now legendary business was then taken over by the grandson of its creator, who, in tribute, bore the same name as his illustrious grandfather.

At the same time, Michel-Ange Thomas Napoléon Marion founded a company to manufacture silks, embroidered flags, military equipment and decorations. Particularly renowned for the quality of his creations, Marion became the official supplier to Napoleon Bonaparte, who later entrusted him with the design of the famous Légion d’Honneur.


It was in 1861 that a union between the two families was forged with the marriage of Michel-Ange’s daughter, Marie-Adelina Marion, and Claude Arthus Bertrand. However, it was not until 1889 that Claude sold the publishing house in order to concentrate on the decorations and give his name to this growing company. The successful concern was taken over by the three brothers Claude, Henri and Pierre, then by two of Henri's sons, Benoît and Nicolas.

Collaborating with prestigious artists such as Auguste Bartholdi, Fernand Léger, César, Niki de Saint-Phalle, and Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, among others, manufacturing the first baptism medals in the 1920s, launching the fashion for Roland Garros pin badges, designing the swords for the academicians Charles Picard, Jean d'Ormesson, Yehudi Menuhin and Gérard Oury, creating the Grand Collier de la Légion d’Honneur … With more than a century of existence, the achievements of Arthus Bertrand are numerous and prestigious. Its savoir-faire and Haute Orfèvrerie (high quality goldsmith) ateliers are known and acclaimed the world over.

The current Arthus Bertrand generation has a special history with Noirmoutier. Since their earliest childhood, its siblings have spent summers at their grandmother's family home. Indeed, their maternal ancestors were prominent figures of the island, so much so that a street still bears the name today. And it has been by helping with the construction and promotion of numerous properties, along with the notables of the Jacobsen family, that the Hubert family has contributed greatly to the preservation of the history and heritage of this little piece of land off the coast of the Vendée.

With the Villa Arthus Bertrand on Noirmoutier, an island dear to their hearts, they are writing a new page in their family history, and you are invited to participate.