Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Pauline Marois' Chateau on Île-Bizard Up for Grabs
The Parti Québecois' grande dame has put her spacious waterfront retreat on the block, much to the delight of local media hacks.
The 12,000-square-foot La Closerie is listed with Sotheby's International Realty for a cool $8 million. That price buys you the usual bells and whistles of genteel West Island living, including 1.7-million square feet of fenced, landscaped and manicured land overlooking Rivière des Prairies. The 15-room home has eight bedrooms and a total of 10 bath and powder rooms.
You can check out the full listing on the Sotheby's site.
You might recall that Château Marois made headlines in 2007 when The Gazette ran an investigative piece by William Marsden alleging that Marois and her husband, the financier Claude Blanchet, improperly annexed government-owned agricultural land to create the 41.3-acre estate. You can read a version of Marsden's original story here.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. It is worth noting that Marois and Blanchet are now suing The Gazette and Marsden for libel, to the tune of $2 million.
Back to the house. News of the listing has created a buzz for columnists and bloggers during the usually drowsy summer news season.
La Presse's Patrick Lagacé blogged about the château, noting that he was surprised by how tasteful the place is. "We've all seen rich people with way less taste when it comes to matters of interior decorating."
Still, Lagacé thinks the house sends the wrong message. Too big, too in-yer-face for voters to easily accept.
Readers are engaging in a brisk back and forth. Some chide the leader of the soi-dissant social democratic PQ, for being showy. Others are equally vocal in their defense, saying Quebecers need to get over their deeply ingrained suspicion and jealousy of those who make scads of money. "Does she have to rent a 3 1/2 in Montreal North to satisfy you people?" goes one comment.
Anyway, if any of you are interested in seeing Château Marois, references required, please give me a call. I would love to collect the commission.
But I'm not holding my breath.
As luck would have it, I ran into Marois' agent Cyrille Girard of Sotheby's last week. He opened the door for my client and me at one his listings on Parc La Fontaine. I knew Cyrille slightly from my old job as Gazette real estate reporter. I complimented him on the coup of landing La Closerie. He showed me some clippings from the papers.
Here's the interesting part. Girard told me with a big conspiratorial smile that he has an even more interesting listing on Île-Bizard. It has nearly 35,000 square feet of living space. He told me who it belongs to. I'm not going to tell, but I will give two broad hints. She used to be the first lady of a country in southeast Asia. The 35,000 square feet presumably includes plenty of room for her shoes.
That's all I'm going to say.