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The great escape

France’s “devil-may-care” hotelier

Patrick Diter thought his luck had run out when, in 2020, France’s highest court ruled that he had to knock down Château Diter: the 30,000 sq ft dream home he’d illegally built on the Côte d’Azur. Three years on, says John Von Sothen in Air Mail, not only is the chateau still standing, it has become one of the region’s most in-demand hotels. The Provence pad, with its opulent furnishings, imposing fireplaces and Venetian chandeliers, is available to rent for around $120,000 per week ($160,000 if you’re after a live-in chef). And the major selling strategy is cashing in on the property’s “legal limbo”. “You probably want to see it,” the website reads, “before it gets knocked down.”

This “devil-may-care attitude” is on-brand for Diter. During 20 years of legal wrangling over the property he has flouted work-stoppage orders, hosted week-long Bollywood weddings, and shot down his neighbours’ drones with a rifle. And despite the looming bulldozers, the provocative proprietor even invited the cast of Emily in Paris, complete with 300 extras, to film at the venue. Aficionados will recognise it from the Netflix show’s second series, in which characters sip champagne as a jetpack-wearing saxophone player hovers over the pool – “because, you know, it’s France”. Book your stay here.