Exile In Paradise: The Rolling Stones’ French Villa Of Excess

The Rolling Stones’ exile in France wasn’t exactly an exile. They simply moved to the continent for tax reasons.

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Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones
Photo: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

The Rolling Stones‘ exile in France wasn’t exactly a true exile. They were simply moving to the continent for tax reasons. It was a meticulously planned exit. With the group’s farewell to Britain tour over and their new album, Sticky Fingers recorded, mixed, and mastered, the band was ready to head out of the country by April 5, 1971, the end of the tax year in Britain.

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Bill, Mick Taylor, Charlie, and Mick had all left before April 4 but Keith was not to be hurried. He left his Cheyne Walk house in Chelsea on the last day possible and caught a flight from London’s Heathrow Airport to Nice. There were some people that initially assumed that the Stones would all live together in some idyllic French chateau in a hippie-esque commune style arrangement – nothing could have been further from the truth. Jo Bergman in the Stones’ London office had written to various French estate agents asking for details of “5 houses of character” to rent for two years.

The details of The Rolling Stones’ exile in France

Both Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor went to live in Grasse. Bill to the Bastide St. Antoine, a large house with beautiful gardens, while Mick Taylor rented Le Haut, Tignet a little to the north of Bill. Charlie had been the first to arrive in France, staying, at first, in a hotel in Cannes before finding a rented house in La Borie in Thorais, near Arles.

Mick Jagger flew to Paris and checked into the Plaza Athénée Hotel. For the next few months, he shuttled back and forward between there and hotels in the South before renting a place in Biot, Alpes-Maritimes. Biot is an ancient walled town overlooking the Mediterranean.

Keith, as everyone knows, rented the Villa Nellcôte in the Avenue Louis Bordes, at Villefranche-sur-mer. The villa was surrounded by jungle-like gardens, an ideal place to ensure privacy. To begin with, there was much socializing at each other’s homes and soon enough the recording of Exile on Main St. got underway at the Villa Nellcôte.

In 2006, a wealthy Russian bought Villa Nellcôte for $128 million. Bill’s old home has become a Michelin star restaurant and hotel.

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  1. Judy Rygh

    April 6, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    The band did what was necessary, and I am thrilled they kept making music. I get such a great feeling inside when I hear them play. Thank you for sharing your legacy! The Rolling Stones!!

  2. ronan

    April 6, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Just a little mistake. the house of Charlie Watts is not located near Arles, but near Ales in the Cevennes in Thoiras, location name “La Borie”. He spent here several years with his wife and son, sometimes with Mick and Keith.

    • uDiscover

      April 7, 2015 at 7:04 am

      We think he bought the farm in Ales later, according to Bill Wyman. “We were living all over the place. Keith went to Cap Ferrat, up the coast towards Monte Carlo. Mick was in Biot, which is near Antibes. Charlie had a farm in Arles, while I was in a rented house, the Bastide St Antoine, which was near Grasse.”

      • ronan

        April 7, 2015 at 9:43 pm

        but can be “La Borie” is a “Thoiras” near Ales but no Arles.
        Ales is not very far from Arles (50km) you need to confusion between the two names. please check. I never heard that Charlie Watts had a house near Arles.

  3. Un gars sympa

    April 6, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Please guys, “Le Rolling Stones aller en France”…
    First, The Rolling Stones are more than only one, so : “Les”
    Then, please conjugate the verb : “vont”
    “Les Rolling Stones vont en France” Ca sonne franchement mieux, merci de votre attention !
    Am I as arrogant as all the french people seem to be to all of you ?

    • Toohip

      April 7, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Un gars sympa… Hardly arrogant. Simply telling it like it is. And you said “please”… Twice!

    • uDiscover

      April 7, 2015 at 7:03 am

      We hang our heads. Actually the problem was that in school when we should have been studying French we were listening to the Stones.

      • David Hamilton

        April 8, 2015 at 5:01 pm

        Good stuff though! Thanks.

  4. Gabriel j hyppolite

    April 6, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    i was living in Nice at the time and saw Bill Wyman every Thursday at the movie house at Cap 3000 when they would show movies in English … Saw Keith in Villefranche a couple of times. Loved that era in the south of France

  5. JuniadoVale

    April 7, 2015 at 1:58 am

    Encontrei a piscina… Essa casa é chic demais para mim Mick. Não posso ficar aí. Gosto muito do exterior É bela. . Nem me convidastes e eu já me enfio? Voce sabe não é Mick que onde voce vai eu já entro na mala de véspera… Com dois pares de saltão lilás. De bico fino. Perfume anjo 5674. E muito Rock ‘n Roll pra deixar cansado gato lindo, sentado no chão por mim … A voce, ao doce Ronnie Wood do Coalinha – que eu jamais esquecerei – que pinta e borda e faz mais não sei o que, a Linda Ficherrrrrrr, ao belo baixista Flower marido dela, a Keithhhhhhhhhhh desaforado Richards lindo de morrer e ao suspirante baterista Charlie que sorri, como eu, só e feliz, mas bem casado… Fui. Te vejo em Paris. Se me deram um aumento.

  6. Arthur Pelligit

    April 7, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    I think this is when Keith first met Arthur Pelligoe…………

  7. Martin Perez

    April 7, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Sweet Virginia

  8. Miette

    April 8, 2015 at 8:27 am

    But Keith, Anita, both kids and babysitter were living in the mountains in Villars Switzerland for a year, changing house 2-3 times while there!
    I know this since I was there often.

  9. Mademoiselle Hannelore Lach

    April 10, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Tre’s chick!..haha…

  10. guile

    April 11, 2015 at 3:44 am

    please let’s have a new good ride men

  11. Ian Reynolds

    April 5, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    RIP the great Richard Havers. Such a sad sad loss.

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