Step Inside Jacques Garcia’s Monastery Turned Country House
Jacques Garcia’s latest masterpiece is a 17th-century Sicilian monastery, luxuriously reborn as a retreat for the celebrated designer and his friends
Ask decorator Jacques Garcia why he has spent the past few decades finessing Château du Champ de Bataille, his 17th-century pleasure dome in Normandy, and refused to be seduced by other delectable old properties that would have benefited from his expert ministrations, and one receives an answer that comes from the heart.
“I am a man of one love; I cannot cheat,” says the silver-fox Parisian known for conjuring up glamorous hotel interiors, from Hôtel Costes and La Réserve in Paris to Marrakech’s La Mamounia and Manhattan’s NoMad. “When I cheat, I leave.”
Several years ago, though, Champ de Bataille had reached a certain maturity—read all about it in Twenty Years of Passion (Flammarion), a 400-page billet-doux to the monument historique that he has owned since 1992—that led the AD100 interior designer to feel that he could allow his eye to wander, to establish yet another historic foothold for him to restore and his friends to enjoy. Eventually Garcia found what he was seeking in Sicily, where he stumbled across a former monastery, also dating from the 1600s, that had gone to rack and ruin in the rolling, rocky countryside within sight of Noto, a once-sleepy, rather remote, but increasingly buzzy baroque city at the island’s southeast corner.