Surrounding the couple are weapons, including the 'marital whip' which Madame Robbe-Grillet bought for her late husband as a 'symbol of my submission' back in 1954. Her staged bondage sessions can be extremely brutal, with Madame Robbe-Grillet often referred to as a female version of the Marquis de Sade, as in the 18th Century French aristocrat who was famous for his libertine lifestyle.Madame Robbe-Grillet comes across as a charming octogenarian – the kind anybody would love as a granny – but is known to have pierced and cut people, crowned them with thorns, and chained them to walls.
In many ways, institutions like marriage are simply fiscal ones – about ensuring that family money is transferred between generations.'Madame Robbe-Grillet has written a number of well-regarded books about sadomasochism herself, but neither she nor Madame Charpentier have any immediate plans to watch the Fifty Shades of Grey film when it is released next week.
While the story of Christian Grey, a billionaire with a fondness for bondage, and his student lover Anastasia Steele, has thrilled millions, and particularly middle aged women, some have protested that it demeans them, and encourages abuse and sexual violence.
'It's romantic literature – effectively the story of a powerful man, a Prince Charming, and his adventurous relationships.
Madame Robbe-Grillet agreed that the book had 'inspired women in particular', but only towards a 'soft version' of BDSM, as a variety of sexual practices including bondage and tying up partners are referred to.'The English love their set piece soirees – extravagant outfits, dancing and role playing.
Madame Robbe-Grillet pointed out how a 37-year-old female French Socialist minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, had put forward a plan to abolish prostitution in cities like Paris, despite vice playing a huge part in France's cultural identity for centuries.
Catherine Robbe-Grillet has never accepted money for her ceremonies: 'If someone pays, then they are in charge. It is important that everyone involved knows that I do it solely for my pleasure', she told Vanity Fair'This says everything about the kind of society people are calling for,' said Madame Robbe-Grillet.
He visited the chateau regularly with their two children.
Charpentier told author Toni Bentley, who published an interview in Vanity Fair which was reproduced in The Sunday Times: 'From the moment I met her, I was obsessed with her.
They enjoy their canes, for example – it's all about drama and conforming to a stereotype, but strict erotic practices can be very limited.' Catherine Robbe-Grillet, above enacting a sado-masochistic scene with her real-life submissive Beverley Charpentier, says: 'Essentially, people in countries like Britain are buying into a romanticised version of what BDSM is all about'The couple met more than 20 years ago in Mexico.