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Jean Cocteau La Maison du Bailli

La Maison du Bailli, the old house bought by Jean Marais and Jean Cocteau in 1947, was the first home the poet owned. He was deeply pleased, at fifty-eight, finally to have, as he called it, "a frame." The house lies at the end of a cul-de-sac in the tiny village of Milly-la-Foret. A narrow doorway in a stone wall opens into a garden with a millstream and a potager beyond. The cloistered atmosphere breathes a peace worlds distant from the Sodom and Gomorrah of the old days at the Hotel Welcome in Villefranche, at Toulon, or in Paris.

Jean Cocteau La Maison du Bailli

Two stone spinxes flanking the entrance stare blindly at the visitor. In the foyer hangs a a large portrait of Cocteau's mother. The salon, to the left, has now been renovated by the present owners, Edouard and Tania Dermit. But for years after Cocteau's death it remained intact with its strange Douanier-Rosseau- like aura. Two tall gilded palm trees swayed over the images of fauna scattered about the rooms: bronze deer, papier-mache roosters, a stuffed owl, a pewter ibis, a ram's head with amethyst-studded horns, a vase made from an elephant's foot, a pair of ostrich-leg candlesticks, a chair made of cattle horns, four great steer horns over the mantel embracing a golden sunburst (a gift from Coco Chanel), a bouquet of stag antlers, and the six-foot spiral ivory tusk of a narwhal to remind the beholder of Cocteau's ballet La Dame a Licorne. On a table lay a plaster cast of Cocteau's hands - a pair of wings momentarily at rest - while on the wall hung a small strip of wallpaper from the old family home at Maisons-Laffitte, a talisman from his childhood.

~ june 2011 - new jean marais store

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