The Geometry of Paradise
The 17th-century château embodies the quintessential French noble homestead
The pristine earth offers its unique expression of beauty in every land, but in the course of human history there came to be a place of perfection called France: a nation of geometry, of ideal forms, itself conceived in the form of a hexagonal star. Enveloped by five distinct mountain ranges and three coastlines, its inner landscapes are defined by five large rivers and fifty-five affluents. These have sculpted France into a generous womanly body of hills, curves, and hollows.
The Louvois fountain, near the Palais-Royal in Paris, features women — their breasts revealed — representing four great rivers: La Seine, La Loire, Le Saône, Le Rhône, La Garonne. These are the givers of life. A woman is the giver of form, and for this reason the great river cultures the Near East, from Egypt to Mesopotamia to the Ganges, all paid tribute to the goddess.
In France, the goddess was never entirely stripped of her glory. The most iconic cathedral in Paris, as well as Chartres, was dedicated to the mother of Jesus.
The Germans have an expression “happy like God in France”, and the British concede that the country has only one flaw: it's home to the French. The Hindus hold the cow sacred, while the French know that their finest cheeses — holy be their name — require des vâches heureuses (happy cows).
There are many versions of the French idyll. Some fancy the bucolic farmhouses. Others the vine-adorned village houses. Some, the Normand thatched-roof manoirs. Others, the stone mas of Provence. Still, the quintessential style for a noble French homestead is embodied by the 17th-century château. These, along with their meticulous gardens, have given full expression to the geometry of paradise.