Isabelle Moltzer: Inside a 16th-Century Normandy Estate That Appears Like Something Out of a Fairy Tale

When Isabelle Moltzer’s parents reluctantly sold the Domaine de Bailleul in Normandy in 2011, she believed she would never return. “It was nightmarish,” she recalls. “It took two months to move everything out.” What made it particularly traumatic was that the 50-hectare property had been in the family since the mid 16th century, when its château was built by one of her ancestors, Bertrand de Bailleul (he is said to have welcomed Mary, Queen of Scots, there). “My attachment to the estate is visceral,” says Moltzer.

For years afterward, she avoided going anywhere near and deliberately made detours when passing through the region. Now, a curious twist of fate not only finds her back working at Bailleul, but also ecstatically ensconced in her childhood home—an outbuilding called La Maison Normande, or the Norman House, which she uses mainly for vacations and weekend getaways. “Sometimes I have to pinch myself,” she admits. “It’s like a fairy tale.”

The terrace façade of the estate’s so-called Norman House, which was built in the 19th century.

Dans La Forêt Cotton by Décors Barbares

Fish Salad Plate By La Tuile À Loup

In the role not quite of Prince Charming, but rather a benevolent benefactor, is Ranga Brossais Doliger, who acquired the domaine in 2018. The previous owner, a Russian businessman, had more or less left it abandoned. The gardens were overgrown and the outbuildings in a state of dilapidation. “It was like the castle in Beauty and the Beast,” Brossais Doliger says, insisting that he didn’t buy it to live there. He already owned another château nearby. Instead, he simply wanted to restore it to its former glory and planned to rent the outbuildings. “When I first visited, I had an uncanny feeling, as if I’d lived there in the past,” he recalls.

Intrigued to know more about its history, he made contact with Moltzer via Instagram and discovered she has a dual profession. A consummate cook, she organizes private and corporate dinners for clients such as shoe designer Christian Louboutin, brands like Dedar, Lalique, and Pierre Frey, and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. In parallel, she works as a decorator on projects that have included an 8,000-square-foot hôtel particulier in the French capital, a villa in Uruguay, and an apartment in Marseille. Almost organically, Brossais Doliger asked her to help him bring Bailleul back to life.

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