Living and holidaying places of British Royalty in France

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Historically there are many links between France and the British royal family, and the Royals have become popular with the French.

More recently, the newly-crowned King Charles III chose France as his first foreign state visit as monarch (although the trip had to be cancelled due to pension reform protests), while Paris marked Queen Elizabeth II’s first foreign trip.

From a former monarch who fled to Paris and taught the youngest of the royal family to ski on family vacations, France has provided a haven for the British royal family for many years.

Here are a few places where members of the British royal family have lived or vacationed since the 1800s.

Prince Phillip-Paris

After fleeing Greece in the early 1920s, when the Prince was 18 months old, his family settled in Paris.

They first lived in Bois de Boulogne before moving to Saint-Cloud in the western suburbs.

It was here that the Prince began school before attending a prep school in England in 1928, aged seven.

Queen Victoria – The French Riviera

Towards the end of Queen Victoria’s life, the French Riviera became a popular destination for the monarch following the death of her beloved husband, Albert.

During his first trip in 1882, he stayed in Menton, on the Italian border, in a villa on the hillside lent to him by a friend.

On subsequent visits, he stayed in Cannes, Grasse, Hyères, and Nice.

He even had his hotel built for him in Nice, and to this day, there is a statue of him in tribute in the city near the building, now called Le Regina Flat. A café north of the town, where he ate tea prepared by his Indian servants, is still called Au de la Reine.

During a visit to Nice in 2018, Prince Charles then quoted from one of his ancestor’s last journals in which he wrote: “Alas! My last charming drive to this paradise of nature, which I am sad to leave, I become more attached to it every year. I would hate to return to the sunless north, but I’m grateful for what I’ve enjoyed here.”

Prince and Princess of Wales – The Alps

Prince William and his family often spend holidays in France. Courchevel was the preferred destination for Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s first ski holiday in 2016.

The couple also spent time holidaying in France before having children, staying at Chateau d’Autet in the Luberon, Provence, owned by the Queen’s nephew Viscount Linley in 2012.

Princess Diana – St. Tropez

A few weeks before she died in Paris, Princess Diana vacationed with her sons William and Harry on his yacht in Saint-Tropez as guests of Mohammed Al Fayed.

Prince Harry described the trip as “heaven” in his memoir, Speyer.

After the July trip, Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed returned to the yacht in August 1997 before travelling to Paris, where they both died in a car accident.

Duke and Duchess of Windsor – 4 Route du Champ entrainment, Paris

The former king and his American wife, Wallis Simpson, for whom he abdicated, lived in Paris after his short reign.

The house near Bois de Boulogne in Paris was provided to the couple by the City of Paris for a nominal rent, and the French government exempted them from paying income tax.

Due to its opening as a museum in 2024, Dodi was also the home of Al Fayed’s father, Mohammed Al Fayed – partner of Diana, Princess of Wales – who referred to the house as Villa Windsor.

King Charles – Deauville, Normandy

When the present King was Prince of Wales, he frequently visited Deauville in Normandy for polo tournaments.

Royalty has also visited Normandy frequently to commemorate the Normandy landings during World War II.

The location is the Château de Cande, where the Duke and Duchess of Windsor resided.

France was also the venue for Edward VIII’s wedding to Wallis Simpson in 1937.

The couple married after Edward’s abdication at the Château de Cande in Monts-à-Monts near Tours, which brought the castle to the world stage.

They even inscribed their names in the library with their wedding dates.

Queen Elizabeth II – all finished.

France was a popular destination for Queen Elizabeth II – her visit to France in May 1948 marked her first trip abroad, during which Edith Piaf sang La Vie en Rose for the then-princess and her new husband.

He visited the Champs-Élysées more times than any other foreign sovereign and had French as his second language.

In addition to six official state visits during her lifetime, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have frequented France, including Normandy, Strasbourg, the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, the medieval city of Carcassonne and Burgundy.

The Queen attended a commemoration to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings during her state visit in 2014. She followed her annual official birthday party for the first time at the British Ambassador’s Paris residence.

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Marta Lopez

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By Marta Lopez

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