The only building French architect Le Corbusier (1887–1965) ever built for himself is this rather simple – but very clever – beach hut on Cap Martin. The cabanon (small beach hut), which he completed in 1952, became his main holiday home until his death. The hut can be visited on excellent two-hour guided tours run by the Association Cap Moderne; tours depart on foot from Roquebrune-Cap-Martin train station and must be reserved in advance by email.
Le Corbusier first came to Cap Martin in the 1930s to visit friend Eileen Gray, an Irish designer who had built a house here. Le Corbusier loved the area and visited often. During one of his stays, however, Le Corbusier decided to paint the interior of Gray’s villa without her permission. Gray was understandably furious: Le Corbusier’s paintings had ruined the perspectives of her design, and she was offended by the subject matter (kissing women; Gray was a lesbian).
No longer welcome as a guest, Le Corbusier did come back to Gray’s villa in 1949, but as a tenant. It was during that stay that he met Robert Rebutato, owner of L’Étoile de Mer, the next-door cafe where he ate his meals. Friendship blossomed between the two men, and in 1951 they agreed on the construction of a beach house next door to L’Étoile de Mer so that Le Corbusier could have his own space.
The cabanon was designed using the Modulor, a mathematical benchmark based on the height of a man with his arms up.