I’ve been living in Les Mesnuls, a beautiful, small village in the countryside west of Paris for about four years now and whilst I’d heard of the remains of a Roman villa having been found here, I’d never actually seen it. It was opened to the public this weekend so we all cycled down to La Millière see it.
The Villa was discovered in 1964 by the architect François Zuber. The site was then excavated for twenty years during which time a series of frescoes were found. Many of the walls of the Villa had been decorated with images of animals or plants but the most remarkable find was the fragmented remains of four frescoes representing the different seasons (below is a detail from Autumn).
It seems incredible that these frescoes, painted on the ceiling of a small room in the 2nd or 3rd century AD, can still be seen today here in Les Mesnuls. As the archeological site was on private land, the frescoes found belonged half to the State and half to the person in who’s land they were found. The State gave up any rights and the landowner ceded his to François Zuber, making him sole owner of the frescoes. After Zuber’s death in 2010, his family inherited the frescoes, along with a tax bill. They are now having to sell the frescoes to meet this payment. A local archeology association, ADRACHME, is trying to raise the money needed to enable the frescoes to be exhibited locally instead of auctioned off. Please consider making a donation to help them !