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Colette's country homes

Special to the Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Paris

Like many Parisians, Colette spent her summers out of town in a chain of country houses connected to the various phases (and lovers) in her life.

The first was Les Monts-Bouccons in eastern France, a gift from Henri Gauthier-Villars, her first husband, who went by "Willy." Between 1900 and 1905 she entertained friends in the modest manor house, gardened and worked out on a portable gym to keep in shape for music hall roles. Strapped for cash a few years later, Willy took the property back.

No matter. By then Colette had formed a liaison with Missy, a rich marquise and notable cross-dresser who bought her an estate near St. Malo on the Brittany coast and didn't take it back when Colette jilted her for Henri de Jouvenel. She summered at Rozven for the next decade with her daughter by De Jouvenel and his stepson Bertrand, whom she seduced.

De Jouvenel's family home in the Perigord, where Colette wrote several books, is now a luxury hotel: Château de Castel Novel,, with doubles starting around $140, not including breakfast. In the nearby village of Brive-la-Gaillarde, there's a Colette garden.

Her last beloved country place was La Treille Muscate on the Route des Salins just outside St.-Tropez. She lived there with her third husband, Maurice Goudeket, until the sleepy little fishing village on the Cote d'Azur was discovered by annoying tourists and fans.

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