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When the metal gates swing open and we roll up the driveway to Tereza Maxová’s summer house on the Cap Ferrat peninsula, it first feels like being in a botanical garden. Massive banana tree leaves loom over the road, while pines and olive trees give the light a dark green hue. “Sometimes, I actually feel spoiled living here,” says Maxová, who is waiting in the sunshine, wearing jeans and sneakers. The Czech supermodel, her life partner Burak Oymen and their three children moved to the South of France in 2010. Watching Maxová, simultaneously both euphoric and relaxed, look out from the terrace at the expansive view of the coastline on this spring morning gives the distinct impression that the beauty of this place still overwhelms her, even after six years.

Here’s the plan: We’re taking a tour of Tereza Maxová’s world in the ŠKODA Superb – along the Côte d’Azur from Cap Ferrat to Monaco, the city where the family mainly stays when they are in France. Our day with the supermodel will be spent far from the red carpets and show dinners, so she can tell us about those things that are really important to her, and the part that cars play in her life.

Tereza Maxová in front of her summer house in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. The house used to belong to tennis star Björn Borg.
Tereza Maxová in front of her summer house in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. The house used to belong to tennis star Björn Borg.
Like a jungle: From inside the ŠKODA Superb, you feel as if you are on safari in Maxová’s summer estate garden.
Like a jungle: From inside the ŠKODA Superb, you feel as if you are on safari in Maxová’s summer estate garden.

I love the climate, the slow pace of everything. The pure quality of life makes this a great place to raise children.

Tereza Maxová
Tereza Maxová’s very first car in the 1980s was a ŠKODA Favorit. Today we’re driving the Superb for the tour.
Tereza Maxová’s very first car in the 1980s was a ŠKODA Favorit. Today we’re driving the Superb for the tour.

“People always go, ‘Oh, what a glamourous life you lead in the South of France!’,” says Maxová. “The most glamourous part is when I take my children to the beach after school. Otherwise my life is similar to that of any other mum.”

Let’s take a quick look back. In 1989, Maxová, 18 at the time, broke off law studies in Prague, moved to Paris and became a full-time model. As well as being a giant career leap for a girl who grew up behind the Iron Curtain, it represented something of a culture shock. When the US actor Sylvester Stallone turned up backstage during a Chanel fashion show, she was the only one who had never seen his face before. However, Maxová was soon to be a star herself. In the 1990s, the great era of the supermodel, she worked for the famous haute couture houses. She lived in New York City for two years, and graced the covers of magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan. A wild time.

In 1997, Maxová began preparing for life after her career. She founded the Tereza Maxová Foundation, which helps orphans in the Czech Republic. When her daughter Mina was born in 2009, she started withdrawing from the modelling business, and changed her primary residence back to Prague. Maxová still finds the time to do a bit of modelling now and then, but her main focus – if she happens not to be working on one of her interior design projects just then – is her foundation. 

ŠKODA AUTO has also played a role in Maxová’s life at various points over the years. She gets nostalgic when she thinks about her very first car, a used ŠKODA Favorit, in the late 1980s. When the new Octavia was launched in 1996, she became the face of the campaign, posing in front of the car wearing a black dress and with a Weimaraner dog. ŠKODA has been supporting the Tereza Maxová Foundation since 2011. In all those years, the special Czech connection was never severed. It extended all the way to New York and Paris, and now to the Côte d’Azur.

Tereza Maxová Foundation

Logo_Tereza_Maxová_Foundation

In all of Europe, the Czech Republic has the highest ­number of children growing up in institutions – 24,000 abandoned or handicapped children. Tereza Maxová took this problem to heart after visiting an orphanage in Prague in 1996. One year later, she established her foundation, which now helps up to 9,000 children in infant care homes and children’s care homes. The foundation aims to promote foster care, ensuring that children grow up in the social environment best suited to them. It also helps NGOs working with unprivileged children. And as part of prevention, the foundation supports families and expectant mothers to keep children in the home they were born into. ŠKODA AUTO is a foundation sponsor, supporting the Rozjedu to! education programme for children in four children’s care homes and the Teribear Moves Prague sport event, among others.

More at:
nadaceterezymaxove.cz

On an easterly route along the Côte d‘Azur: Nice can be seen in the background, and it’s a half-hour drive from Cap Ferrat.
On an easterly route along the Côte d‘Azur: Nice can be seen in the background, and it’s a half-hour drive from Cap Ferrat.

“In the beginning, it took me some time to get used to the French mentality,” Maxová tells us as she drives the Superb towards Monaco along the Moyenne Corniche coastal road. As we sweep past the wall of solid rock on the left and the sparkling blue Mediterranean to our right, the open sunroof blows the wind through her hair. “But I immediately loved the climate, the slow pace of everything. The pure quality of life makes this such a great place to raise children.” 

When Maxová is in France, her typical day starts around half past seven. She drops off Toby (15), Mina (6) and Aiden (4) at school. Afterwards she hits the gym, then strolls through one of the markets to buy fruit, vegetables and fish. Next on the agenda is office work, before going for lunch with her partner Burak, an investment company co-founder who manages large real estate projects around the world. After that, it’s time to take the children to their after-school clubs. 

Weekends are the best. The Maxová family calls their two- or three-day breaks “doing the road trip”. Sometimes they head down to the Gulf of Lion or up to the Rhone Valley, sometimes east towards Genoa. In the winter they might head north to go skiing at Isola in the French Alps. And sometimes they go to new, still unknown destinations.

Tereza Maxová takes to Monaco’s streets on foot. But for any resident on the coast, a car is a must.
Tereza Maxová takes to Monaco’s streets on foot. But for any resident on the coast, a car is a must.
With its stunning views, Cap Ferrat always attracted artists and celebrities. Charlie Chaplin, Edith Piaf, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton all spent time here.
With its stunning views, Cap Ferrat always attracted artists and celebrities. Charlie Chaplin, Edith Piaf, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton all spent time here.

Biography

Tereza Maxová

When people hear the word supermodel, many first think of Americans like Cindy Crawford, but the Czech Republic is also well represented in the hall of model fame. Tereza Maxová and Eva Herzigova were among the most sought-after models, especially in the 1990s. Maxová, was born in the Bohemian city of Pardubice in 1971, grew up in Prague and moved to Paris at 18, where she started her international career. Photographers like Mario Testino and Peter Lindberg worked with her and she appeared on the covers of British Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan. After giving birth to her second child in 2009, she cut back on the modelling jobs and now mainly devotes her time to different projects, her family and her own Tereza Maxová Foundation. 

“There’s so much to see around here, we never get tired of those trips,” says Maxová. “This weekend, for example, I might take the children to Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the Alpes-Maritimes.”  

About halfway between Cap Ferrat and Monaco lies the picturesque mountain settlement of Èze-Village, 430 metres above sea level on the steep coastal cliff. Maxová parks the Superb in the car park and wraps up in a light wool scarf because the wind is chilly today. A walk through the narrow lanes, past the houses characterised by rough masonry and narrow staircases, is a must-see part of the tour when Maxová wants to show visitors that her second home has more to it than beaches and casinos. 

At the Crêperie Le Cactus, she orders a galette, a type of pancake, with ham and mushrooms, and a tea. It may be true that Maxová has stayed extremely busy following the break in her career, with family, foundation, projects. Yet now – in the early afternoon at Èze-Village – she can enjoy something that she, for the large part, never had during her years in the spotlight: a moment of total relaxation.

Stunning view from Èze-Village over Èze-sur-Mer and Cap Ferrat. During her modelling years, Tereza Maxová fell in love with the Côte d’Azur, and moved here in 2010. (Photo: Bernhard Huber)
Stunning view from Èze-Village over Èze-sur-Mer and Cap Ferrat. During her modelling years, Tereza Maxová fell in love with the Côte d’Azur, and moved here in 2010. (Photo: Bernhard Huber)
A stroll through Èze-Village: The medieval lanes are usually crowded with tourists from all over the world.
A stroll through Èze-Village: The medieval lanes are usually crowded with tourists from all over the world.

I’m giving my voice to children who don’t have families.

Tereza Maxová

“During those years, I was always in the centre of attention, always being pampered,” says Maxová. “And then, visiting Czech orphanages, where all these abandoned kids get no attention at all – that was when I said, I have to do something!“

That was in the autumn of 1996. Maxová was visiting her mother in Prague when she knocked on the door of a neighbouring children’s home and let herself be shown around the hopelessly overcrowded facility. This was no isolated case in the post-communist Czech Republic. And because Maxová realised that a few donations wouldn’t be sufficient, she founded the Tereza Maxová Foundation in 1997. She was 26 at the time and recruited the first employees from her own circle of friends. It is said that there are VIPs who have little to do with the charities to which they have lent their names. The Tereza Maxová Foundation is the exact opposite.

“I’m giving my voice to Czech children who don’t have families,” says Maxová. “People ask me, why don’t you also support children in Africa or Asia? It’s because I think that if you concentrate on just one thing, you might even get close to solving it some day.“

While the foundation concentrates on placing orphans with foster families, it also supports mothers in distress, in order to prevent children from having to be given away in the first place. Since 2011, ŠKODA AUTO has supported various Tereza Maxová Foundation activities – for example, the Fashion for Kids fashion shows, the charity-run Teribear moves Prague and the Rozjedu To (“Turn it up”) programme that encourages and provides better education for disadvantaged children in their early teens.

One of the Tereza Maxová Foundation’s fundraising projects is called Teribear. The little red mascot is her favourite keychain.
One of the Tereza Maxová Foundation’s fundraising projects is called Teribear. The little red mascot is her favourite keychain.
The ruins of Èze castle, built in the 14th century, as seen from the Moyenne Corniche.
The ruins of Èze castle, built in the 14th century, as seen from the Moyenne Corniche.
“Doing the road trip” is what the Maxovás call their short family vacations. Then the children are occupied with their tablets.
“Doing the road trip” is what the Maxovás call their short family vacations. Then the children are occupied with their tablets.

The sun is already low on the horizon as we reach the final stop of our tour: Cap-d’Ail, the small beach resort directly adjacent to Monaco. Two spectacular natural beaches offer expansive vistas to those seeking tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of the principality. Maxová’s mother, who is here visiting from Prague, has picked Mina and Aiden up from school and brought them along. The 15-year-old Toby preferred to go and play football instead.

Maxová frolics in the sand with her children, throws stones into the water, and runs away from the incoming waves for fun. It’s easy to understand without her having to explain: The supermodel picked exactly the right time to take a new course with the focus on family. And that’s the reason she can now also take care of children whose lives have not run so smoothly.

Then it’s time to leave. Maxová is expecting more guests in the evening. A Czech meal is planned, accompanied by Bohemian champagne and Pilsner beer. “Sometimes people ask me where my home is,” she says in parting. “And I say, wherever my family is. You could drop me with a parachute in the middle of Iceland – as long as my children and my partner are with me, I’m going to adapt and be really happy.”

She pauses for a moment of reflection before climbing into the Superb to drive off. “Perhaps this is all due to my communist education,” she then laughs. “We learned adaptability!” A talent that in the past has always helped Tereza Maxová get over the toughest hurdles.

On the beach after school: Mina (6, left) and Aiden (4) with their mum at Cap-d’Ail.
On the beach after school: Mina (6, left) and Aiden (4) with their mum at Cap-d’Ail.

Photo: Bernhard Huber