Autheuil, the committed “colo” of Yves Montand and Simone Signoret

By Samuel Blumenfeld

Posted today at 5:00 p.m., updated at 5:00 p.m.

Of the three houses that marked the decades-long love story between Simone Signoret and Yves Montand, it is undoubtedly the least known. Infinitely more discreet than the Colombe d’Or, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence (Alpes-Maritimes), an inn frequented by artists and actors, filled with works by Calder or Picasso, where the couple meet in 1949. Less flamboyant than their apartment on Place Dauphine, in Paris, which they will baptize “the Roulotte”. The house of Autheuil, in Normandy, in the Eure, will be the privileged place of large parts of countryside.

Simone Signoret used to insist on one point: this house, only Yves Montand was the owner. The actor and singer, from an Italian working-class and communist family who fled fascism to settle in France, had bought it in 1954. “There are Battling joe and Dead leaves in there “, he liked to recall, thus blessing the full rooms and the sale of records which had enabled him to acquire them.

As Signoret wrote about this house in his autobiography, Nostalgia is not what it used to be (Threshold, 1976) : “It is the symbol of a certain luxury, which consists in being able to buy something with the fruit of work and not in working in order to be able to buy something. The end of the day is when this work is done in front of an audience that loves what you love to give them. ”

Signoret and Montand in Autheuil in the years 1950-60.

But it was together that they had crossed the countryside to find in the Eure, in Autheuil (which will be attached to the village of Authouillet in 1971), this building that looks like them. Located 50 kilometers from Paris, it would have cost three times. But there, 90 kilometers from the capital, it is, as Signoret so aptly writes, “Stored at the end of the world”. “In Autheuil, remarks the journalist Ivan Levaï, who will become one of the regulars, there is still the city. We are before Rouen, but it is not the Normandy of the Servan-Schreiber. ”

The charm of discreet taste

This house, Montand often contemplates. Signoret too, by the way. To be amazed each time at its beauty. However, it is not a billionaire’s home, a star house as some are starting to build in the south of France. The description given by Hervé Hamon and Patrick Rotman, in their biography of Yves Montand, You see, I haven’t forgotten (Seuil, 1990), tends towards simplicity. The house is “A white rectangle soberly topped with a slate trapezoid. “ The windows overlook a meadow and an avenue of trees. Inside, “Old tiles, hospital fireplaces, a wide staircase and sloping ceilings. The large living room is divided by fine columns. The dining room is quite spacious and intimate ”.

You have 83.97% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.