Northern France Tourism : official website

Close-up of the Cavrois villa from the park

The Cavrois Villa – Croix

In 1932, the architect Robert Mallet-Stevens built a villa, 60m in length and with a surface area of 3000m 2 , for Paul Cavrois, a textile industrialist from Roubaix. This video shows you this masterpiece of Modernism which is now managed by the French National Monuments Centre. Explore this jewel in the heart of the Lille conurbation, not far from La Piscine Museum.

The Cavrois family rediscovers its villa

Resulting from a chance meeting, Paul Cavrois chose the famous architect Robert Mallet Stevens for his house project.  The latter's flamboyance contrasted with the industrialist's austere approach, however, they both respected each other. The one, who loved to stand out in his milieu, reined in the budget, whilst the other applied his creativity to magnificent materials. The family home briefly enjoyed a happy time enlivened by the laughter and complicity of the seven children until it faded away to be replaced by the German army which requisitioned the house in 1940. It was all over! Looted, squatted in, ransacked and then left abandoned for more than 20 years, it was saved in extremis by the Historic Monuments of France and popular pressure.  A renovation verging on the miraculous! 

Close-up of that part of the villa giving on to the park
  • View of the Lille-Roubaix-Tourcoing conurbation from the top of the belvedere
  • © Adeline Vendeville
To Mr and Mrs Cavrois who, thanks to their clear-sightedness, enthusiasm and disregard for routine, enabled me to build this house. With all my gratitude and the loyalty of my friendship. - February 1934 Robert Mallet Stevens

Enter through the door of non-conformity

The dazzling yellow-faced brick façade is mirrored in the garden lake offering viewers a theatrical décor. The entrance to the villa leads into a large black and white hall and, by the indirect play of the lights, indicates that the action takes place elsewhere. Just as in Cluedo proceed to the lounge where the original parquet flooring borders steps in Sienna marble and then continue to the parents' dining room next to the children's. Everywhere, the materials are austerely luxurious without being ostentatious. Nearby the pantry and kitchen with their cylindrical shapes are as sterilised as an operating theatre, white, bright, in nickel chromium. Continue into the smoking room where Mr. Cavrois enjoys his cigar before going into his Chief Executive's office.  

The indirect lighting in the hall gives on to the entrance into the lounge
  • Corridor to the lounge
  • © Adeline vendeville

The visit continues

One of the boy's bedrooms stands out because of its many colours and the ultra modern décor of its furniture, beds, and lamps, reminding one of a Mondrian artwork. Climb the grand staircase. with the huge vertical bay window overlooking the park, which leads to the parents' wing. The immense, bright bathroom is impressive and leaves us momentarily dreaming of living like the Cavrois did.  Imagine coming out of the multi-jet shower in a white bathrobe to shave, get weighed, put on make-up or perfume … such divine pleasure! Next come the parents' exquisite bedroom, then Mrs Cavrois' domain, a modernist setting in white wood, her boudoir. Finally the rooms shared by the children, girls on one side, boys on the other, and on the second floor a games room and studies especially designed for them.

A corner of the bathroom, shower, scales and shelves
  • The bright bathroom
  • © Adeline Vendeville

Silence - filming at the Cavrois residence!

Mallet Stevens thought about this house in every detail, sometimes to the extreme, since he asked after his customer's shirt size so as to determine the depth of his cupboard drawers. More than an architect, he turned the daily life of this middle class family into a performance. The camera rolls in a location where each item is studied, decorated, furnished and adapted to each sibling.  You are amazed by the avant garde modernity which also features in such comforts as: central heating, indirect lighting, lift, speakers in every room.  When Paul Cavrois moved into "his work of art" in the country, you suspect that the gentry of Roubaix from the great families of northern France felt outraged and took him for a fool. 

The grand staircase is lit by a large bay window overlooking the park
  • The grand staircase is lit by a large bay window overlooking the park
  • © Fanny Fouquet

Long live the villa!

The water mirror in the garden is like a mooring post for the villa-liner, its reflection enlarges the garden and the whole park (17,600 m2) and encourages you to take a stroll. The site visit is interactive, tablets are available for you to learn about the archives that have been discovered and the significance of the restoration works.  Through anecdotes, stories, events, and secrets, the Roubaix Tourist Office guides relive with you the daily life of this house and its evolution.  The Cavrois villa has beautiful views. As ever in the spirit of the avant-garde, the villa will, from 2016, offer you exhibitions, meetings, and shows on its chosen themes: architecture and design. 

the villa in the water mirror
  • the villa in the water mirror
  • © Adeline vendeville