Archive: July2015

WWII Heroine, Lily Pastré

lily-au-festival-aix

Lily Pastré – born Marie-Louise Double de Saint-Lambert) – De. 9, 1891 to Aug. 8, 1974

It’s hard to imagine that Vermouth might end up saving countless lives, but that is, in part, the story of Lily Double de Saint-Lambert. Born to a Russian mother and having a father whose grandfather co-founded the Noilly Prat Vermouth company, Lily became heir to that fortune providing her the resources for her life’s work.

Coming of age in the Paris salon’s of the 1920’s, the well-educated Lily met many prominent artists whose influence would incubate a passion that would last her a lifetime. During this time, she also became a great lover of opera, attending many festivals throughout Europe.

In her private life, Lily would meet and marry an Olympic polo player, Comte (Count) Jean Pastré earning her the title of Comtesse (Countess) Pastré in 1929. Together the couple would have three children: Natalie, Nicole, and Pierre.

The 1940’s brought decisive and pivotal change to her life. After eleven years of marriage, the Pastré’s would divorce with Lily keeping both her title and the family’s summer home, a chateau in Marseille. That year, she also founded an organization for the preservation of art and music. But the war had also arrived that year, with the invasion and occupation of Paris in June. With her many connections in the world of art, music and culture, Lily used her country home to successfully  hide over 30 Jewish artists, musicians, and performers during the war. The group formed an organization during their time at Chateau Pastré putting on many plays, operas, and orchestral performances.
After the war, she went on to found the Aix-en-Provence Opera Festival and continued to support the arts even after her retirement. Comtesse Pastré died in 1974, after which her son, Pierre, assumed care of the Chateau. Today it has become a national museum and park open to visitors from around the world.

 

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