You must know about the most famous Paris museums, but have you ever heard of the Villa Savoye? This gem of contemporary architecture, accessible with the Paris Museum Pass, is an interesting cultural place to visit in addition to absolute must-sees like the Louvre or the Orsay Museum.
The Villa Savoye, a building by the architecte Le Corbusier
This wonderful building was first a secondary residence for the Savoye family, wealthy entrepreneurs who had become rich as insurance brokers. By accepting the iconoclastic project of Le Corbusier, Pierre and Eugénie Savoye went against the rules of their time and signed a manifesto for modernity.
The Villa was built in Poissy on a green site surrounded by meadows and orchards, overlooking the Seine Valley. It combines the five points of modern architecture as expressed by Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris: the pilotis, the free plan, the free facade, the horizontal windows and the roof garden.
This villa was built without respecting what the Savoye family wanted, such as a big living room on the first floor, or the possibility to add extensions to the building. In the end, the Villa Savoye was inhabited for very little time. Just as every project ahead of its time, it was necessary to "deal with teething problems". Concerning the Villa, it suffered from some structural and functional problems. Water leaks and cracks appeared. The villa was not insulated well and was hard to heat. Also, this concrete block clashed with the environment and the neighbors had a hard time accepting it.
In order to create his ideal villa, Le Corbusier ignored most of the Savoye family's requests (a big living room on the first floor and the possibility to add extensions to the building for example). Even if functionality is a main asset of the building, the Savoye family did not live much time in the villa because it was not adapted to the location, nor to the climate, nor to the inhabitants: because of the building's design, humidity, cracks and water leaks quickly appeared ; it was impossible to heat and the rooms had bad soundproofing.
From a residence to a tourist attraction
The Villa Savoye underwent various events. The Savoye family lived in it intermittently until 1940, but it was used by the Germans and the Allies during the Second World War, and it still has scars from this time. In 1958, the Villa Savoye was expropriated and the city of Poissy took 6 hectares of land to build a high school for baby boomers. The Villa was given to the French State in 1962.
In 1965, the Villa Savoye was classified as national heritage site. Abandoned for some more years, the villa finally went through a restoration process lasting many years until 1997.
The blueprint of the Villa
The pilotis raise the building off the ground and add free space. They lift a part of the second floor, which is thus biggest than the first floor.
The first floor was where lived the servants (still present in upper-class families in the 30s). The garage was also here.
There are two accesses to the second floor: a ramp or a spiral staircase. A part of the second floor is in open air, with a big terrace. From there, you can take a ramp to access the solarium on the roof garden. The other rooms of the house are located around this terrace: a big living room, a functional kitchen and three bedrooms. A small lounge is also on this second floor. There are also two cellars in the Villa Savoye, but those are not on the blueprints because Le Corbusier found them offensive.
When you come to visit, you will also discover a small building in front of the house: a 33 m² gardener’s house with two tiny 5 m² bedrooms. Only the South façade has windows. This small house illustrates what le Corbusier considered to be the minimum space for a family apartment.
Visiting the Villa Savoye in Poissy
Thanks to the Paris Museum Pass, you can visit freely this place and enjoy the sight of this extraordinary testimony of the architectural revolutions of the 20th century.
Opening hours and days
- Low season (from September 1 to April 30) : 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., opened every day except on Mondays
- High season (from May 2 to August 31) : 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., opened every day except on Mondays
- Closed on: January 1 and May 1 every year.
Address and getting there
- Address: Villa Savoye 82, rue de Villiers 78300 Poissy
- Getting there: RER line A, stop "Gare de Poissy", then bus line 50, stop "Villa Savoye" (towards "La Coudraie")
Other contemporary cultural sites
Do you like contemporary art? Other exceptional tourist attractions await you in Paris and its surroundings. After having visited the Villa Savoye in Poissy, you could discover Paris street art with an experienced and passionate guide to admire the great murals in Paris streets.
Autre classique de l'art moderne, le Centre Pompidou au coeur de la capitale : un lieu extraordinaire, où sont exposées des oeuvres magistrales et chefs d'oeuvre célèbres. The Centre Pompidou in the center of Paris is another must-see for modern art: an extraordinary place where famous masterpieces and remarkable art pieces are displayed.
Do not miss out on the Picasso Museum displaying a collection of art pieces associated to this out of the ordinary artist.