Gathering around the table were artistes, agriculteurs, viticulteurs, local cooks and chefs, a décorateur de film, an institutrice who also organized the local theater club and many more delightful personalities. It was incredible to think that Villedieu, a tiny perched village in Haut Provence, was home to a most extraordinary collection people. Hugh and Susannah had a natural passion for exquisite antiques and were thrilled to share a common interest with their new neighbors. One resident eloquently stated it as “it is everyone's right to improve their home”.
In the months that followed, Hugh and Susannah would visit local brocantes and flea markets together with these newfound friends and relished in decorating their home and garden with the treasures they found. It was during this time that the idea of Chez Pluie was conceived.
Seven years on, much of the success of Chez Pluie can be attributed to those Villediennes who sat around that table. They encouraged the idea of bringing Provence to the world via a new concept. They introduced Hugh and Susannah to a vast network of French antique specialists and artisans around Provence. In particular, Philippe Turlure, who throughout his career has decorated film sets such as Evita, The Last Tango in Paris and The Man in the Iron Mask, has spent countless hours generously advising Hugh and Susannah on collecting, curating and cataloging the very best décor that Provence has to offer.
So why the name Chez Pluie?
Chez is a difficult word to translate directly – the best way to explain it is like this - if you are going to Pierre’s house, you would say Je vais (I’m going to) chez Pierre. Pluie translates to rain - an homage to Susannah’s father, Rain, who left us in 2012. It is also a touch ironic as Provence is known for blue skies and sunshine, but when it rains in Provence, it pours and nature responds, gifting us verdant fields, a chorus of bird life, fragrant blooms and a bountiful harvest of shiny cherries, vines heavy with plump grapes and delicate truffles.