At VILLA JULI GUESTHOUSE located in the French Riviera you feel totally relaxed. Meet Lisa and Niclas Emanuelson-Franzén who moved from Sweden to Spéracèdes in 2017 to create their dream project together – a boutique hotel, surrounded by mountains, cypress trees and olive groves. Welcome to Villa Juli!
TWWP TOGETHER WITH villa juli guesthouse
In 2017 you moved from Sweden to start a new life in France, how has this journey been? – It’s been crazy! The best thing we have ever done and the most challenging. To break free and to leave our comfort zone and suddenly become a foreigner in a foreign country has been overwhelming. But also a really good and important experience of course. This project has demanded everything from us. Blood, sweat, tears, hope and despair. In addition to all the renovation, there were also some cultural shocks. Since we didn’t know a word of French, it’s been hard to understand everything. Especially all the bureaucracy. There has been a battle through out this renovation and Villa Juli has challenged and tested us more than we could ever have predicted. But after all the hard work and difficulties it has been the coolest thing we have ever done. And as a family! All four of us. It has been worth it all!
You have created a perfect dreamy french hideout, tell us about this place, this house. – Villa Juli is our third baby. We absolutely love it here! The villa is beautifully situated in the middle of an olive grove with a fantastic view of the Mediterranean Sea and the valley below. It is 310 sqm, built in 1971 and is of classic Provencal style and has a lot of French charm. We have chosen to keep much of the original details that were here already. When we bought the house it was basically uninhabitable so we had to move between the rooms while Niclas re-painted and renovated. There was also no working kitchen and the walls were dirty from cigarette smoke and dirt.
But now its very different. – Today it is a dreamy colorful and playful villa located in a harmonious and quiet place. The house is imbued with warm fine colors in terracotta, sand and pastel, beautiful fabrics, wallpaper, wall paintings, reclaimed stone and tiles. Most of our interior is from France and Sweden. We try take advantage of everything that is in our local region such as: food, furniture and arts & crafts. We have 7 guestrooms all with different décor and size. All the rooms are named after musical streets and areas around the world because Lisa is a singer and we LOVE music. Sometimes we have Live music when we have dinner events at Villa Juli. We also have a pool with a view overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the Olive groves below and Niclas just finished a beautiful big Sauna (totally in stone from our new company ARTSIPELISSE).
Tell us about your family! – We are a family of four‚ Niclas, Lilie and Juli and me. Both me and Niclas are two visionaries and big time entrepreneurs and have two companies together: Villa Juli Guesthouse and ARTISPELISSE – a interior store, specializing in reclaimed floors and vintage furniture’s. On my free time I love to sing and scout for antiques, and also have a podcast, “Rivierapodden”. Niclas loves to cook and to do carpentry. Lilie and Juli are two energetic, trilingual and adventures girls who has been around since the beginning of Villa Juli. It sums up the family really. We are a spontaneous, adventures and fearless family who is not afraid of a challenge. Lilie is 3,5 years old and Juli is 5.
What did you both do before coming here? – We lived in Stockholm and I was a singer and Visual Merchandiser for Urban Outfitters, and Niclas worked in the insurance business.
Would you recommend this kind of lifestyle change? – Yes, definitely. It has changed us for the better and we have stopped taking things for granted and we have also discovered talents we never thought we have. To step out of your comfort zone and take part of another culture that fascinates you is fantastic. Sometimes you have to dare to take some risks in life. You might to discover something wonderful. This whole experience has strengthened our family. We love the freedom of being in charge of our own businesses. Yes, its sometimes stressful but we are doing something for ourselves that we believe in. f you feel like you are not getting where you want to go in life, why not try something new? A new lifestyle.
How did you find the house?
– Online! =) and with some help from realters. We looked at around 25 houses before we found the right one.
And why was this the right one?
– The first time we saw the villa in real life we immediately saw the potential. The planning of the house was perfect for a business. We wanted to create big comfortable guestrooms and bathrooms. All with a view. We also wanted to keep all the original details such as: wooden beams, beautiful windows and the open fire place in the lounge.
While renovating it, what did you aim for? – To find the perfect surface solution for a business.We wanted to re-create everything that we love when we stay at hotels or a BnB. Lots of space, comfortable beds, nice décor etcetera. And also a big space for a lounge area, dining room and terrace. We also built a kitchen entirely for the guests so they can cook their own food from the local markets around here. We wanted the house to reflect us. As who we are. Playful, colorful and joyful.
How do you want your guests to feel when visiting Villa Juli? – To feel like home and totally relaxed!
"We wanted to create big comfortable guestrooms and bathrooms. All with a view. We also wanted to keep all the original details such as: wooden beams, beautiful windows and the open fire place in the lounge."
What’s the neighbourhood scene like? – The villa is located on a quiet little street beneath our picturesque village, Speracedes. Far away from traffic. You get this ‘French country side feeling’ But at the same time, you are close to bigger cities like: Grasse and Cannes. Our village, Speracedes, is a picturesque village with a small restaurant where everyone goes to eat lunch or for an aperitif. Panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea and beautiful landscapes.
What to discover? – There is so much to see and discover around us such as genuine small mountain villages where you can buy locally produced products such as honey, olive oil, marmalade, textiles, perfume and unique arts & crafts. There is also the possibility to hike, ski or cycle up in the mountains.
What sort of person comes here? – It’s really a mix! Mostly people who wants to relax and really find some peace and quiet. It could be families, couples, group of friends from all over the world.
What places in this area you recommend us to visit, Whats not to miss? – There are so many! But the most spectacular area is Gorges du Verdon, Europe’s most beautiful canyon. It’s a huge area with grand mountains, hiking trails and villages. You can also find a lot of activities such as: river rafting, canyoning and mountain climbing. Rent a small boat by the lake, Lac de Sainte-Croix and paddle into the canyon. It is amazing! You will find caves, waterfalls and crystal clear turquoise water. We also recommend you visit the islands outside of Cannes, île Sainte-Marguerite and îls Saint-Honorat. The cities like Cannes, Antibes and Nice are very exciting. But also Éze, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Menton towards Italy.
For beautiful views, hiking and private beaches in the mountains; Massif de l´Esterel.
A dinner at Villa Juli, take us through the menu. – Niclas prepares something from the market or from the “boucherie” – local butcher – or fish market. We prefer to do something typically french and as local as possible and of course homemade. We set the 3-course menu together. For example, this menu is inspired by the Olive, as we live in an olive region. For entry we serve: Melon Charentais marinated in muscat wine and lavender, with tapenade (with olives from the local mill), Serrano ham and croutons. For main course we do a slow cooked Tuna Niçoise in the oven in olive oil, capers, chili and garlic. We serve it with small delicacy potatoes tossed in parsley and butter and for dessert we serve a chocolate mousse made from olive oil with a touch of pastis (liquor) and candied walnuts and fresh berries.
What has been the difficulties? – New adjustments can sometimes be difficult. Not knowing the language and to not immediately “fit in” because we are not French. But sometimes it is not enough to just know the language, you also have to understand certain codes and attitudes. The kids have been the best access to integrate into the society. Just give it some time! In France, you can also experience bureaucratic hassles where you often need guidance. We also miss our families a lot! Just to be near them. We often Facetime.
What makes you happy? – To get that validation from customers and guests. That we can make people happy and satisfied with what we accomplish with our businesses. And also Vacation!! =) To really be able to just relax and be with each other, the whole family and rest. Get some perspective! Its always “full speed ahead” with two companies and small kids. We love it but quality time with the family makes us really happy.
How is everyday life here? – Every day is different and that’s why we love this lifestyle. It is mostly work. We work everyday accept Sundays. But otherwise it is the same as any other family. Kids go to the school in the village and we work. The big difference is that everyday when you wake up you have to really rub your eyes and pinch yourself for waking up in this beautiful landscape and sunshine! We work with Villa Juli (when the BnB is open) during Mars-November, ARTISPELISSE the whole year around and during the low season we renovate and find some time to rest.
A day off with the whole family, what do you do? – The beach! It’s nice to just be alone, read a book and rest or be with the family. Sometimes we go on a road trip to get some inspiration and try not to think of work.