In Théoule-sur-Mer, the resort village on the French Riviera, there is a large property called Le Palais Bulles, or the Bubble Palace. The 13,000-square-foot house was designed by the Hungarian architect Antti Lovag, who hated straight lines. Lovag described straight lines as “an aggression against nature,” and the Palais Bulles was designed as a “form of play – spontaneous, joyful, full of surprise.”
The Palais Bulles was built between 1975 and 1989 for the French industrialist Pierre Bernard. The whole structure was made from a reinforced wire mesh with a concrete mix sprayed over top.
The house, which is built on six levels, sits on a 2.1-acre property that looks out over the Mediterranean.
The house boasts 29 rooms, which include 11 bathrooms and ten bedrooms. A specific artist decorated each room. These artists include Patrice Breteau, François Chauvin, Gerard Cloarec, Jerome Tisserand, and Daniel You. Other rooms include a reception hall and a lounge.
The Palais Bulles, in addition to its 29 rooms, has three swimming pools, waterfalls, and beautiful gardens. The house even has a 500-seat-open-air amphitheater.
Bernard never actually lived in the house. Despite this, he said, “This palace has become my own bit of paradise. Its cellular forms have long reflected the outward manifestations of the image of my creations. It is a museum where I exhibit the works of contemporary designers and artists.”
In 1992, after Bernard’s death the previous year, the house was purchased by fashion designer Pierre Cardin. In Jean-Paul Hesse’s book, Le Palais Bulles de Pierre Cardin, Cardin said, “Its curves and its softness makes me see the shapes of a woman, of a mother. That’s why I feel good there.”
In 2016, French architect Odile Decq completed a five-year renovation of the house. The Bubble Palace was put up for sale for €350 million. It failed to sell, and the house could be rented for anything from music videos to fashion shoots. The price to rent was set at €30,000 a day. The current asking price has not been disclosed.
The house has been used for many fashion shoots showcasing the designs of Pierre Cardin. It has also been featured on the album cover of Free Me, the 2004 album by Emma Bunton, most famously known as Baby Spice of the British pop band the Spice Girls.
The house was also featured in the 2016 comedy film, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.
In December 2020, after Cardin’s death, some suggested that the house be made into a public space for art shows and similar events. Since 1999, Le Palais Bulles has been included as one of the French Ministry of Culture’s national historic monuments.