Lady’s Tower, Elie, Fife

Where is it?

It’s a little tower, a very charming and mysterious one, built at the end of the 18th century. The view of the North Sea is unbelievable, especially during the fire-sky moments.

The tower was built for Lady Janet Anstruther. A girl from the lower classes, she married Lord Anstruther, the richest man in the area, who fell in love with her. Janet was a beauty and such a character: she loved swimming naked.

She used to undress in the tower before her bath. A butler would ring a big bell and all the residents of Elie had to turn their eyes away from the beach. No one was allowed to see Janet naked. Maybe some naughty and clever kids hiding behind the thistles did?

Why do you go there?

Because I spend part of my time in Scotland. Especially in Fife. Lady’s Tower is very close to Elie’s harbour. You can get Cullen skink soup at The Ship Inn and make a loop to the tower.

It’s a very special spot, full of atmosphere and vibrations. Maybe the tower is located in a certain spot on the planet. Maybe it is the centre of the world…

How often do you go?

I would say, quite often. I have seen Lady’s Tower through all seasons - except in the snow. I’ve even made a painting of the tower, with coloured ink. I need to do another one.

It’s a place which gives you inspiration. So much so that a full chapter of my new book, French Windows, takes place there.

(Image: Pascal Ito © Flammarion)

How did you discover it?

Because my love lives nearby. She is the one who introduced me to this place. Since then, it’s a special spot for both of us.

What’s your favourite memory?

Maybe the first time I visited. We walked along the coastal path from Saint Monans to Elie. At the beginning, Lady’s Tower seems very far away - just a tiny little spot near the sea. Then, at the end, you discover it: it’s as if the tower just popped up from a fairy tale.

Who do you take?

I think that question is already answered. If you see a couple: a tall guy with a tartan jacket, talking with a French accent to a beautiful girl - a citizen of your country - with long, brown curly hair blowing in the wind, that could be us.

What do you take?

My scarf and my Tam o’ Shanter hat - always useful in bonnie Scotland.

What do you leave behind?

A little rock, between the stones of the tower. For a hello, for a wish… a way to say: see you next time.

Sum it up in five words.

Sky. Sea. Wind. Quiet. Happiness.

What other travel spot is on your wish list?

A good whisky distillery could be a clever option. In Scotland, I should find one.

French Windows by Antoine Laurain (translated by Louise Rogers Lalaurie) is published by Gallic Books, priced £16.99, out now