What does an eccentric English millionaire do in retirement? How about building a pink wedding cake castle visible for miles around. Why? Because he can.
Back in 1856 the Nice-Monaco coastline was the preserve of penniless shepherds. Retired Indian Army Colonel Robert Smith was able to purchase 22,000m2 of Mont Boron real estate for a song. In today’s prices that would cost around €200m. And that’s not including builders, plumbers or property tax. Or real estate agents for that matter.
Colonel Smith’s Château de l’Anglais took four years to complete. Cleverly, he took a hotel on the Promenade des Anglais so he could view the project’s progress via telescope.
After a lifetime spent surveying for the Indian Army, Smith’s ‘English Castle’ was half Maharaja’s Palace, half Victorian party pad. Think turrets and minarets. Mediterranean gardens and Moorish kiosks. One local architect called it “a building that is not a castle or a palace, or a tower or a bastion, or a villa or a cake”. Another declared it a “classical nightmare”.
Did the colonel invite his pals around to celebrate completion? Did he hell. No-mates-Smith spent his retirement reading and writing within the chateau walls.
Too grand for simple Niçois like us? Think again. After Smith died the Château de l’Anglais passed to a Polish count, who left it deserted in the 1920s. After WWII it was hived off into capacious apartments replete with panoramic views and ornate ceilings.
Pebbles occasionally have properties for sale inside the Château de l’Anglais. Bear in mind that apartments in this prestigious district fetch between €9,000m2 and €12,000m2, and this is no exception.
So why buy on Mont Boron?
First is the tiered topography which guarantees that 90% of properties have a sea view to the Cap d’Antibes and beyond.
Second are the road and bus links to Nice and Villefranche: both five minutes in either direction.
Third is the 57-hectare Mont Boron park above, where holm oaks and Aleppo pines are criss-crossed by 10km of hiking trails.
Like Colonel Smith, we’re sold.