1921 - 1937: Montfort l'Amaury, Le Belvédère

Le Belvédère In April 1921, Ravel purchased his first and only house, a picturesque and idiosyncratic building called Le Belvédère, about 30 kilometres from Paris. Over the next few years, he had many alterations and improvements made, and furnished and decorated the house according to his own taste. (The address was then 5 rue Saint-Laurent; now rue Maurice-Ravel.)

Montfort was within easy reach of Paris, but far enough to give Ravel seclusion and quiet for composing (the house is about 3 kilometres from the railway station of Montfort l'Amaury). It also allowed him to indulge his love of walking in the surrounding forest of Rambouillet.

Le Belvédère interior The house is designed like a ship, with a series of rooms opening off a single long corridor on the entrance floor, and everything is constructed on a scale in which perhaps only someone of Ravel's small size could have felt quite comfortable. At the back of the house there is a lower floor which is not visible from the front; here Ravel had his bedroom and bathroom, and there were also rooms for his housekeeper, Mme Revelot.

"'Le Belvédère'! Bien grand nom pour une si petite maison où les objets à l'échelle semblaient jouets d'enfants." (Hélène Jourdan-Morhange in: Colette [1939], p.163)

"C'est une petite maison, une sorte de petit pavillon, même pas une villa. ...De l'extérieure, elle se présente une peu comme une tranche de camembert mal taillée - construite en très mauvais matériau. Ravel le savait quand il a acheté." (Manuel Rosenthal, Entretiens avec Rémy Stricker, 1985, quoted in Marnat [1986], p.498.)

"Et le jardin..."

Among the works which Ravel composed at Le Belvédère were:

Sonate pour violon et violoncelle
L'Enfant et les sortilèges
Sonate pour violon et piano
Chansons madécasses
Concerto pour la main gauche en ré majeur
Concerto pour piano et orchestre en sol majeur
Don Quichotte à Dulcinée

In December 1937, Ravel went to Paris for an exploratory brain operation, and died in hospital several days later on 28th December. He was buried in the cemetery at Levallois-Perret.

More information about Ravel and his life at Le Belvédère can be found on the excellent website which the Ville de Montfort l'Amaury maintains, including details of visits to the Musée Maurice Ravel which now occupies the house.