"It was not a historical monument, but the huge dwelling place of an upper class man from the Second Empire..." Marcel Pagnol
The Château de La Reynarde, Château Régis and Château de La Buzine line the difficult road followed by the Pagnol family to reach the "Bastide Neuve": "My father ...was horribly streaming with sweat. Paul stopped to wrap a handful of grass around the string of his parcel that was cutting his fingers. The little sister, aghast, stood as speechless as her doll... The silent paleness of my mother's face was clutching my heart..."
The real "Château de ma mère" ("My Mother's Castle"), La Buzine, became far more impressive in little Marcel's "Souvenirs d'enfance" ("Memories of Childhood") than it actually was: "It was not a historical monument, but the huge dwelling place of an upper class man from the Second Empire: he certainly must have been quite proud of the four octagonal towers and the thirty carved stone balconies adorning each frontage..." Marcel Pagnol
La Buzine estate, today called Parc des Sept Collines, is named after a man called de Buzin who acquired the estate in 17th century by marrying Lady Isabeau de Vidau.
In 1856, an architect and businessman from Marseille, Pierre Hilaire Curtil, purchased the current castle, designed by himself.
The mansion is inspired by Louis XIII style, very fashionable at that time. From the end of 19th century to the beginning of 20th century, the estate was the property of many different owners.
Indeed, Théodore Mante, a manufacturer from Marseille married to a woman née Rostand and sister of the famous author of "Cyrano de Bergerac", bought La Buzine in 1883. At that time, Edmond Rostand, often spending vacation time at his sister's, was writing "L'Aiglon" and relaxing by swimming and rowing a boat on the main pool. In 1901, the Pallez family of musicians bought out the castle from the Mante family. Yvan Pallez, a young and talented cellist, used to host in the castle, with his parents, many local musicians and artists. La Buzine was then famous for its musical and fancy dress parties.
From 1920 on, La Buzine had been the property of many successive owners until it was sold to Pagnol in 1941 by the Crédit Foncier de France, last owner of the estate before him.
But war prevented him from fulfilling his dream of building a "Cinema City" ("Cité du Cinéma") on the estate. It remained the property of the Pagnol family until 1973. By this time, a year before his death, Marcel sold the castle and park to a real estate developer planning to divide the place into plots for sale, which later became the Parc des Sept Collines. From wartime to year 1973, the castle was requisitioned, plundered, squatted, burnt and seriously damaged without Pagnol ever being able to obtain any appeal. Since 1996, following numerous events and threats of destruction, the castle was eventually saved and registered as part of the Monuments Historiques (Historical Monuments).
The castle is currently undergoing rehabilitation works and is planned to house a museum dedicated to Pagnol.