The story of le Manoir

Le Manoir de l’Etang was built by an English Lord at the end of the 19th century.

I was lucky enough to meet Elisabeth Buzzard, who lived here from 1929 to 1940. Her father had lost most of his wealth in the Great Depression and was invited to stay at Le Manoir rent free. Elisabeth loved her years at Le Manoir and became very friendly with Rosella Hightower, a famous French ballerina. Elisabeth told me that Rudyard Kipling who wrote the “Junglebook” amongst other works once visited Le Manoir whilst she lived here. Elisabeth’s father loved to paint the gardens of Le Manoir as is evident from the paintings below. Sadly, Elisabeth passed away last March (2017) at the age of 90. Towards the end of her life all she wanted was to return to Le Manoir de l’Etang, but unfortunately the trip was too long and she passed away in the French Isles.

In the early 1950’s Maurice Gridaine, a well established architect from Paris, fell in love with Le Manoir de l’Etang. Mr Gridaine became very involved with the Film Scene in Cannes and even built the old Palais de Festival on the Croisette. His daughter, Monique married Jacques Labro, whose brother Philippe Labro directed a few films at Le Manoir. Maurice Gridaine totally restored Le Manoir, which took him close to 30 years, as he continued work on other projects. At the end of the restoration of Le Manoir Maurice passed away, in the late 1980’s and Monique decided to convert Le Manoir into a hotel so that her mother would be allowed to die here as well. Monique’s mother died at the age of 99.

I met Monique in 2003, whilst pregnant with my second son. I had decided with my husband that we wanted to change our lifestyle, moving away from the hectic city life in London, where I had been working in the financial and consulting fields, to a more healthy life closer to nature. We wanted to raise our children away from the pushy London day schools and the stress of the financial world. I spent four months visiting Monique several times a week to convince her to let us buy Le Manoir. It was not an easy task and there were several other potential bidders around at the same time. However after the summer of 2003 we managed to convince Monique to sell Le Manoir to us. After an intense and extensive renovation we opened our doors in April 2004.

Since then I have led many lives and suffice it to say that I have learnt how to manage a hotel and personnel, look after my clients whilst at the same time raising my two sons as a single mother. Not an easy task, but very fulfilling. I often say to my clients “Ignorance is bliss” and I am very happy that I had no idea what I was getting myself into as if I had known, I would never have embarked on this journey. Now I am no longer afraid of anything…

Camilla Richards