Cap Moderne is a site that brings together an avant-garde architectural ensemble, unique in the world. This heavenly place, offering a view of the bay of Roquebrune, was gradually invested between the end of the 1920’s and the beginning of the 1950’s by various personalities. First of all, the Irish designer Eileen Gray who, with her companion, built the villa E-1027. Then, Thomas Rebutato built the “L’Étoile de mer” bar-restaurant in order to create a friendly meeting place. Finally, the architect Le Corbusier, accompanied by his wife, settled there in his cottage before having the five camping units built. Cap Moderne site is now the property of the Conservatoire du Littoral. An important campaign of works has already been carried out; however, the site remains fragile and is subjected to regular restorations.
Eileen Gray’s villa E-1027
Villa E-1027 is the first architectural creation of the Irish Eileen Gray. Listed as a Historical Monument, this building quickly became an icon of modern architecture. Looking at the building, you quickly realize the reflection and care that Eileen Gray put into every detail. Villa E-1027 is more than a building, it is also a collection of fixed and mobile furniture, lights, and decorations, designed by the designer, that cannot be separated.
The villa is quite small, Eileen Gray advocates minimalism. Everyone should be able to store their belongings in a minimum of space. To achieve this, she created functional, clever furniture in light and elegant materials. She designed subspaces and fixed certain pieces of furniture. Here, everything finds its place, the furniture is multifunctional and accompanies all activities. She invented, for example, a circular chromed nightstand, the height of which can be adjusted with a chain, or a headboard in which a pillow closet, a bookstand, blue light night-light and sockets are integrated. In the guest room, you can discover the circular Satellite mirror with an articulated arm at the end of which stands a small round mirror which was the subject of a patent registered by Jean Badovici, the designer’s companion.
After Eileen Gray’s departure in 1932, Le Corbusier stayed in the villa E-1027 and produced various murals under the encouragement of Jean Badovici. The designer did not appreciate these compositions, which colored the immaculate white walls of her villa. Several of them were damaged during the war and were restored by Le Corbusier himself in 1949 and 1963.
Villa E-1027 has been severely damaged over the years. The Conservatoire du Littoral, which acquired it in 1999, did its utmost to preserve the charm of the place. The furniture present is a reconstruction and not the original furniture. They have been recreated according to the original plans and photos.
Le Corbusier’s Cabanon and Camping Units
Le Corbusier’s Cabanon (cottage) measures 3.66 meters by 3.66 meters and is leaning against the l’Étoile de mer bar-restaurant with which it shares a corridor. It was for him his castle on the French Riviera, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea that he loved so much. Built in 1952 in the heart of nature, he spent every summer there until his death in 1965.
For his Cabanon, Le Corbusier decided to combine the rustic appearance of trapper’s cabins with the functionalism praised by the architects of the modern movement. This small living space combined several functions: workspaces, sitting area, basic sanitary facilities, and various storage spaces. The furniture and partitions seem to compete in ingenuity to be as practical as possible. The touch of color here and there and the murals by Le Corbusier in the entrance hall and on the shutters bring a certain cheerfulness to this somewhat austere ensemble, built in wood.
In 1959, to thank Thomas Rebutato for giving him a plot of land to build his Cabanon, Le Corbusier built five Camping Units. Following the Cabanon’s codes, these leisure houses would then welcome vacationers, who would come to enjoy a return to nature and the minimalist lifestyle typical of Cap Moderne.
L’Étoile de mer bar-restaurant
L’Étoile de mer is the perfect testimony to the Mediterranean cottage lifestyle. Located on a plot of land next to Villa E-1027, the building was originally built to store fishing rods and to picnic with the family. When Thomas Rebutato stopped working as a plumber, he decided to transform his fisherman’s cabin into a bar-restaurant. The terrace with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean is the perfect place to make new friends. Le Corbusier is one of the first clients of the former plumber, and he would paint several murals in the facility.
When Thomas died in 1971, the restaurant closed, but the bar continued to operate thanks to his wife, Marguerite, who continued to serve cold drinks and sandwiches until her death in 1987.
Prepare your visit
Cap Moderne can be discovered during a tour led by tour guides and which lasts about 2 hours. Due to the fragility of the site, the number of visitors is limited, and it is necessary to book online. This national monument can be visited during the summer season.
The site is not accessible to people with reduced mobility, as it has many stairs.
Selection of monuments in Alpes-Maritimes :