Le Manoir Névrose
Early afternoon in burning heat and we stopped at a small French bakery and got much needed home made pizza and drinks...which was the most delicious pizza we'd ever eaten.......hours of driving and exploring in central France in June takes its toll. But there was another house to visit, one which in the photos we'd seen looked fantastic and full of vintage items; a real time capsule. So Becci (Ninja Kitten) and I set off heading east towards the German border arriving in good time with plenty of hours left of light.
Having parked up in sight of the house we had to be ultra careful as it was right bang in the middle of a busy residential street and people were sat on balconies enjoying the glorious weather. After a few minutes we scanned one last time and made our way from the car to the house quickly to avoid being seen and in a matter of seconds were inside the house once through the overgrown front garden.
From the outside the house stands out in this pristine residential area. A gloomy tired old house, upper windows open allowing the yellowed net curtains to flutter in the breeze. The locals must wonder why it's there in such a state. To us it was a glorious vintage relic of a past time.In reality the house was far more spectacular than we had imagined, one of the best we'd ever seen. It had everything. It also had things we'd not seen before.
Who lived here? Well, the names could be found upon documents and letters so later I could try to piece together the people in question. It seems the last person to live in the house was Jean-Pierre Eberling. No evidence could be found to suggest he was married yet maybe he was. The most up to date female name found was Yvonne Kuntz. It does appear Jean-Pierre was the last person in the house maybe outliving other people who lived there.
The ground floor was a no go area. Each and every room was filled with plastic bags full of discarded rubbish and everyday items. They hadn't been simply discarded there as an afterthought, they had been carefully placed in huge piles, rendering the rooms uninhabitable and the entire floor abandoned to whoever lived there.
On to the first floor and we were met with the gloomiest dining room we'd ever seen. An absolute relic. It had the feel of the 1920s in its decor and furnishings. A black piano in the corner, ancient furniture surrounding it and fading portraits hanging on the walls. Next to the piano was the most fabulous floor standing lamp I've seen and epitomised the vintage look of the whole house.
The hoarding theme continued as I entered the bedrooms. One bedroom was also not possible to enter properly. The difference here was the discarded times that were hoarded had been wrapped in newspaper, every so carefully, and the edges of each parcel flattened to resemble a giant paper ravioli. We had been in houses before where hoarders had lived but this was something different. Each parcel had a label on tied with string with handwriting in French. Possibly stating what was inside each parcel.
In this bedroom, the bed frames were covered in newspaper which would have been hidden by the mattress. The wardrobe had been filled with more parcels. This was bedroom which belonged to a female. possibly Yvonne Kuntz. The dressing table was filled with female items like make up, hair products and perfumes.
Did someone live in the house while it was like this? It was disturbing to see and merely added to the strange atmosphere in the house.
On the second floor the vintage nature of this house continued. Another large room with a museum like look of artefacts from a past time. It's safe to say this upper room belonged to Jean-Pierre. This name was on most of the paper documents found and it had a distinctly male feel.
A beautiful vintage pram obviously just capped off the house for me but this room had so much more. A rifle lay on the dust covered bed. Ancient radio equipment still in situ on a large desk. Papers, letters, documents and all manner of ancient items upon a second desk. University documents piled high and academic books arranged on the desk suggested some kind of academic background. It was literally a house that kept on giving. And there would be more.......
On my return downstairs into the gloomy piano room Becci had found a stack of documents from the 3rd Reich era. Passports and identity cards with swastikas stamped on. It was fascinating to see such items in situ. Given where this house is located, its link to that era is quite profound to those who know their history.
After a few hours inside we left and headed elsewhere on our tour across France. I think we were both mesmerised by what we had seen. A house full of history, rooted in a bygone time and a place of anxiety. It's houses such as this which makes all the effort worthwhile. A spectacular time capsule basking in remnants of melancholia.