In 1945, on his return from the United States, Jean Monnet and his family acquired a former farm in Houjarray, Yvelines, moving in without even time to renovate the building. It was in this simple setting that Monnet would live and work for more than thirty years, whilst his wife Silvia would devote herself to painting.
In Houjarray, Monnet spent much of his time considering the future of Europe and its institutions. It was here in 1950 that he conceived of the project which would give birth to the ECSC two years later. When he wasn’t travelling abroad it was in Houjarray that Monnet received his friends and foreign officials, all of them eager for his advice and comment on the latest news. Illustrious visitors included former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, Minister Robert Schuman, U.S. diplomats John McCloy and George Ball, British financier Eric Roll, labour leader George Brown and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Regular loyal collaborators such as Pierre Uri, Robert Marjolin, and Etienne Hirsch also made frequent appearances.
Each day, after walking through the surrounding countryside and reading the latest newspapers, Monnet left Houjarray to reach Foch Avenue in Paris where he had set up the offices of the Action Committee for the United States of Europe. It was at his home, however, that he liked to talk by the fire with journalists and major editorialists of the international press about Europe’s future. It was also in Houjarray that Jean Monnet embarked on the preparation of his Memoirs, which would appear in 1976.
Beyond this cosy setting, Monnet’s work was gaining him major recognition across the continent: in 1975, the French President Georges Spénale presented him with the European Parliament’s Great Gold Medal for his decisive contribution to the construction of a united Europe. Houjarray continued to play a role in his life: it was also here that Monnet learned in 1976 of the decision of the European Council to declare him a ‘citizen of honour of Europe’. Monnet died in his home on 16 March 1979, and is buried in the small cemetery of Bazoches-sur-Guyonne.
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This quaint thatched-roof house with sky-blue shutters is nestled in a leafy park near Paris. You’d never guess that this was where the future of Europe and its place in the world were shaped. But it’s true. This was the home and workplace of one of the founders of the present-day European Union: Jean Monnet.