A stay in Le Corbusier’s La Tourette
Route de la Tourette,
I spent few days here last year. It’s where I got the idea for this Modernist Escapes shenanigans. I came here to concentrate and complete the writing of my Modernist Estates Europe book, and I must say it was the perfect place for it.
Le Corbusier was commissioned to design a Dominican monastery, ‘a place of meditation, study and prayer for the preaching friars’ in 1952, by Father Couturier to house 100 Brothers. Located on a sloping site, the building is rectangular in shape with the Brothers’ ‘cells’ wrapped around three sides, the church and vestry on the final side with the cloister and ambulatory occupying the centre. Providing its inhabitants with the three pillars of humans life: personal, community and spiritual. The cells are the most extreme of Le Corbusier’s low-cost minimum space, based on his ‘Modulor Man’ theory. It was completed in 1960 and the monastery was populated by 75 Brothers until 1970. After then, it started to open its doors to the public and today is run (very well) as a hotel, however there is still a small Dominican community of a dozen brothers.
I took the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Lyon. It couldn’t have been simpler. Once at Lyon I had walk to another station across the city to catch a local train to L’Arbresle. It’s about half an hour’s walk (uphill) from there, and once you arrive, you’re stuck. In a good way.
Guests are free to wander about the monastery freely, but quietly. There is strictly no talking anywhere apart from the refectory. There’s a library to hang out in too. The cells are simply equipped with a single bed, closet/wardrobe, a desk , a basin, plus a balcony with signature brise soleil. There is a separate communal shower room (with individual cubicles).
At every meal time, you gather in the refectory with the Brothers and the other guests staying in the monastery. Communal tables are shared with architects (mainly) but I also met people at a junction in their lives, needing some time out. A Japanese man that spoke no French or English (I wondered how he had managed to get there). A group of Italians on a Le Corbusier pilgrimage. A Polish man on a religious pilgrimage. Whatever the reason, I highly recommend it.
Single cells are €54 for one night (including dinner and breakfast)
Lunch booked two weeks in advance is an additional €14.
To book visit couventdelatourette.fr