Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mick Jagger's Secret Hideaway

When Mick Jagger thick-lipped lead singer of the Rolling Stones (affectionately also known as the Strolling Bones) finishes a tour, where does he head to unwind? He heads for the beautiful Touraine region in the centre of France in a sleepy little backwater where he can relax with his family and friends preferring the simple life.

Poce-sur-Cisse is well placed being only 220 kilometres from Paris on A10. And just 25 kilometres from the village is the Tours airport, where a private, three-person taxi-plane whisks Jagger from London in 70 minutes. The area is also handy for the high speed TGV, which speeds into Tours or its satellite station, St-Pierre-des-Corps, in 62 minutes from Paris's Gare Montparnasse.

The little village is incredibly quaint with a population of about 1600 people. If you blink it is easy to miss Poce-sur-Cisse. There is the Marie as usual, a little white church, a newsagent, two hairdressers, baker, hotel, two pharmacies, and pizzeria. In the centre is an impressive 15th century chateau set out in a gorgeous park. This one is not Sir Mick's. A discreet sign indicates the way to La Fourchette.

Twenty six years ago he and Jerry Hall his then wife purchased a beautiful 16th century chateau for a mere 2 million francs (roughly 200,000 inflation aside) in a tiny village called Poc-sur-Cisse on the north side of the Loire River, a few kilometres from Amboise. His chateau, La Fourchette was originally the property of the Duc de Choiseuil, Louis XV's finance minister.

Apparently the singer fell in love with this region when he came here camping with his parents in the 1950s. It is his preferred second residence. Probably not only for the relaxed lifestyle he gets to enjoy there, but also because of how handy it is to London and New York.

It is not at all surprising that Jerry wanted La Fourchette as part of the divorce settlement but she did not get it.

His guests at La Fourchette have included Tina Turner, Paul McCartney, Roman Polanski and David Bowie. The last Rolling Stones album was recorded at his chateau and the band members where all regulars in the village during thisperiod.

He is known to the locals as Sir Mick, Le Seigneur de Fourchette, Sir Jagger, Mick de Fourchette, le pape du rock, Dr. Jagger, sexy papy British, le pre Mick, le pre Mick and Mister Mick.. He is the Touraine's best hard to find attraction. He is popular with the locals and is quietly protected. The locals are loath to discuss him with strangers. I doubt if he would have been able to find any village in England or America, which would not have cashed in on his association with Rolling Stone paraphernalia and merchandise splattered everywhere.

The Peter Pan of Rock has integrated nicely into French country life and he competently engages local upholsterers, plumbers, electricians and mechanics. He even fronts up to the local Bricomarche (DIY store) to be served by blushing giggling young girls.

He has also been known to play cricket for Saumur when he is at La Fourchette.

In spite of his wealth, his reputation and his glamorous friends, he is mostly seen at the wheel of a fairly downmarket Opel station wagon, or a tiny Nissan Micra or his old 505 Peugeot.

Art historian, John Richardson commented: "I've stayed with Mick at his chateau, La Fourchette, and that's where you see a very different Mick. He got Alvilde Lees-Milne to lay out a marvellous formal walled garden and he became completely part of the garden, knew every single thing about all the plants, the flowers, the way the fruit trees were espaliered. There is nothing contrived about his wonderful country-house life. Big trestle tables under the chestnut trees, with nanny and kids at one end and adults at the other - the children having buns, the adults smoking. Absolute paradise. I remember Mick was training for one of his tours there too - he used a dead straight local stretch of country road so he could practise running backwards very fast. You'd see a French farmer resting on his shovel or his hoe, watching the head of Mick Jagger above the hedge going back and forth, very fast, backwards."

You too can live like Mick Jagger if you wish. You can rent a castle in France in the gorgeous Loire valley chateau exclusively for a vacation for a relaxing week or a weekend with family and friends, gyrating optional.

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