The house is al­ways open. It’s a con­stant flow of fam­ily and friends. Château de la Bar­bée be­longs to ev­ery­body”

Living France - - À La Maison -

In the heart of Pays de la Loire, Mary Pochez sets the ta­ble for din­ner. Fresh flow­ers from the gar­den, china plates and a crack­ling fire set the tone for a can­dlelit sup­per at Château de la Bar­bée, the home she shares with her French hus­band Xavier, and where fam­ily and friends come and go as they please. “The house is al­ways open,” Mary says. “It’s a con­stant flow of fam­ily and friends. Château de la Bar­bée be­longs to ev­ery­body.”

Orig­i­nally from South Cal­i­for­nia, Mary came to France after she was scouted by a mod­el­ling agency on Mal­ibu beach. She spent the fol­low­ing years trav­el­ling Europe with work be­fore meet­ing Paris-born Xavier and mar­ry­ing him, seven years later. “We had a won­der­ful courtship that lasted for seven years be­fore I fi­nally gave in and mar­ried him,” Mary laughs. She mas­tered the art of French liv­ing while liv­ing with Xavier and their two chil­dren in Paris where, from their lav­ish sev­enth ar­rondisse­ment apart­ment she en­joyed en­ter­tain­ing and cooking for friends. “We had a won­der­fully ex­trav­a­gant life­style which got me into throw­ing par­ties,” she says. “That’s what I did the best and that’s what I loved.”

When the cou­ple’s chil­dren moved abroad for univer­sity, they started to spend more and more time at their coun­try home – Château de la Bar­bée – favour­ing the quiet and fresh air of the sur­round­ing coun­try­side. But while they may have left the French cap­i­tal for a bit of peace and quiet, it would seem that any­one and ev­ery­one who knew the fam­ily had dif­fer­ent ideas. “The in­ter­est­ing thing about the way of life here is that peo­ple call and say ‘We’re five min­utes away’, or they don’t even call,” Mary ex­plains, be­fore ad­ding, “And why have this big house if you don’t fol­low that tra­di­tion?”

WHO: Amer­i­can ex-model Mary Pochez and her French hus­band Xavier WHY: The prop­erty has been in the fam­ily since 1790 and is ideal for throw­ing lav­ish get-to­geth­ers WHERE: Château de la Bar­bée in Ba­zouges-sur-le-Loir, Pays de la Loire STYLE: Clas­sic 18th-cen­tury French château, with a warm and homely feel

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