We are in the quiet town of Sainte-Hélène, located mid-way between Bordeaux and Lacanau. Across the road from the water tower, tucked in ...

Villa Quand-Même et Mépris: contemplating contempt 80 years on!

We are in the quiet town of Sainte-Hélène, located mid-way between Bordeaux and Lacanau. Across the road from the water tower, tucked in between the bakers' and the community hall, is a curious, narrow, landlocked house that was built in 1930 by one Mr A. Naturel.

In the late 1920s Mr Naturel, a pork-butcher by trade, was looking to purchase a plot of land where he could construct a building that would be both his shop and family residence. He found a spot which was centrally-located in the town but which was far too small for his plans.

The seller was keen to push things through and asserted that the neighbours were willing to part with a section of their land, which would have left the buyer with a larger area on which to build. A deal was therefore reached and Mr Naturel purchased the diminutive original plot.

However, the neighbours backed out of their promise to sell… or perhaps they never intended to do so in the first place. Naturel filed legal action but to no avail: he was stuck with his tiny plot of land.


Naturel was bitter but proceeded to build his house all the same (“quand même”). Not only that, but as a sign of his contempt (“mépris”) for his neighbours, he opted to make his house the most extravagant design ever to squeeze into such a small space. And to sum up his overriding feelings, the villa was given the name “Quand-Même et Mépris”.


The reaction of the neighbourhood is undocumented but the façade is a case study in bravura. On either side of the first-floor bow window (which features Mr Naturel’s initials) and below the pictures of vases containing bouquets of yellow and blue flowers are hunting scenes painted on tiles, showing hounds chasing down deer and wild boar. 


Naturel’s name and trade are spelled out above the ground floor (shop) entrance and window in gold lettering. The surrounding blue, green and orange mosaic pattern is repeated below the window. What may or may not be a lightning rod adds a little more height to the building which is so short on width and depth!



The building is now solely a private home and no longer a shop, but the 1930 design remains… and presumably today’s occupiers are happy to make do with the square opposite the house when they need to stretch their legs!

Thanks to Élisa for the detailed instructions that enabled me to find the villa!

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