Warsaw’s Kulczyk Foundation buys Skłodowska-Curie’s French holiday home
The holiday home where Polish double-Nobel-prize-winning scientist Maria Skłodowska-Curie enjoyed an idyllic family life has been bought by a Polish philanthropic foundation.
Put on the market in 2021 for €790,000, the picturesque mansion in Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse 35 km from Paris, has now been snapped up by the Kulczyk Foundation which plans to turn it into a base for the House of Sisterhood aimed at uniting Ukrainian and Polish women in their efforts to help women and children fleeing war.
Foundation head Dominika Kulczyk said: “The home of the Polish Nobel Prize winner is a property of all mankind and a natural place for meetings of women whose activities cross all the barriers we know.
“I would like this place to become vibrant again, serving European science and culture."
Built in 1890, the listed property with a 900-sqm garden was acquired by Maria Skłodowska-Curie and her husband Pierre in 1904 a year after they won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on radioactivity.
Renting the home on a short-term basis while keeping their main family home in Paris, the Curies spent most weekends and holidays there.
Maria was pregnant with her daughter Ève at the time and, after a miscarriage the year before she wanted to take care of herself and save her strength.
In a letter to a friend, Skłodowska-Curie wrote: “We spend time reminiscing about studying mathematics and physics. Irène now has a little bike and knows exactly how to use it. She rides it in a boy's costume, and it is a lot of fun to watch.”
Known as Villa La Biche, when the Curies stayed there the house had three bedrooms and three toilets, a living room, a study, as well as a kitchen and a cellar.
It was looked after by local couple Mr and Mrs Giraud, who also provided a horse-drawn cart when needed.
But following her husband’s death in 1906 after he fell under the wheels of the cart, Skłodowska-Curie and her daughters Irène and Ève began to visit the property less frequently.
Left to fall into disrepair, the 120-sqm house is now in need of extensive renovation, the cost of which has been estimated by the real estate agent at around €200,000.
Somewhat faded, the interior of the home, however, remains largely as it once was, with Belle Époque wallpaper, a Prussian stove, antique terracotta tiles and old tapestries.
It also features a ceiling which, according to the former owner, was painted by Skłodowska-Curie herself.
Today, Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse remembers its illustrious former residents with a street leading from the railway station to the house named after Pierre Curie, and the lecture and exhibition space in the town called Salle Madame Curie.
Skłodowska-Curie is regarded as one of the major figures in science of the 20th century.
Born in Warsaw in 1867 and living in Paris since 1891, Maria Skłodowska-Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the only female recipient to be awarded twice.
In addition to her Nobel in physics in 1903 for her work on radioactivity, she won a further Nobel prize in 1911, this time in chemistry, for her discovery of two radioactive elements, radium and polonium.
As shown by the name she chose for the second of these, she was very attached to her Polish identity at a time when Poland, divided between Germany, Russia and Austria, no longer existed.
The Kulczyk Foundation which bought the property for an undisclosed amount said that first assessments of the building's condition and the work that will need to be carried out have already been done.
Their completion is planned for 2025.