THE PALACE REVOLUTION • PATRICK BLANC’S VERTICAL GARDENS • DANIEL BUREN AT MONUMENTA • THE FETE DE LA MUSIQUE AT 30
SPECIAL HOTEL ISSUE The Paris Palace Revolution
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the best of culture, tr avel & art de vivre
ROYALISTS TO ROMANTICS Women Artists from
THE LOUVRE, VERSAILLES,
and Other French National Collections THROUGH JULY 29, 2012
NATIONAL MUS EUM of WOMEN in the ARTS
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The exhibition is made possible by the Annenberg Foundation, the Florence Gould Foundation, Hermès, Teresa L. and Joe R. Long, Jacqueline Badger Mars, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Air France and Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square. Photo: Courtesy of the Tourism Office of Versailles
Spring 2012 cover story 44 Palace Revolution A new generation of hotels is transforming the Paris palace landscape—with more openings on the horizon
52 The P-Listers Profiles of Paris’s top luxe lodgings by Tina Isaac
features 28 La Vie en Vert Only Mother Nature herself knows plants better than Patrick Blanc, inventor of the vertical garden by Amy Serafin
36 Daniel Buren This May, an artist of a different stripe brings his outsized visions to the Grand Palais
© H E R V È L E W A N D O W S K I / R É U N I O N D E S M U S É E S N AT I O N A U X / A R T R E S O U R C E
by Sara Romano
departments 5 The f: section Culture, books, film, music, travel, shopping, food & wine edited by Melissa Omerberg
26 Les Petits iFrench for Kids Pierre-Auguste •Renoir’s “Dance in the City” (1883) is one of nine stunning vertical canvases on view in “Renoir, Impressionism, In 2010, Daniel Buren took part in and Full-Length Hermès’s “carré d’artiste” program, Painting” atproducing the 365 one-of-a-kind silk Frick Collection. scarves. Shown here is “Coupole, See page 65. Eglise Santo-Domingo (détail 1), Puebla, Mexique.” Story page 36.
by Tracy Kendrick
64 Calendrier French Cultural Events in North America by Tracy Kendrick
70 Temps Modernes A Little Night Music by Michel Faure
top amenities. As Tina Isaac reports, hundreds of millions of euros have been spent on building and renovating, with properties vying to have the largest suites, the most advanced spas, the prettiest courtyards. Taking a page from other luxury sectors, these hotels have also been COVER Luxury doesn’t always •mean Louis for today’s revamped palace hotels; at the Mandarin Oriental, a startlingly contemporary white-on-white décor offers a daring experiment in gilt-free living. Story page 44.
collaborating with the hottest architects, designers, artists and boutiques to offer clients experiences that are as unique as they are fabulous. Happily, we will all benefit: Many of the innovations they dream up will eventually trickle down to more modest establishments, changing—and improving—
the hotel experience at every level. One need only remember that before César Ritz, hotel rooms did not have such “extravagances” as electricity, private baths and telephones…. Hoteliers know, however, that while luxury is undeniably seductive, it is often personal attention and thoughtfulness that truly define a hotel as a palace. What woman dining on a terrace isn’t charmed by the shawl that magically appears before she even feels the evening chill? Or the flowers in her room that just happen to be in her favorite color? Or the concierge who remembers the names of all her children? At the end of the day, perhaps the perfect palace is not unlike the perfect mate: familiar and comfortable yet capable of surprising us and making us feel special, year after year. KA RE N TAYLO R
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Editor KAREN TAYLOR
Senior Editor/Web Editor MELISSA OMERBERG
Associate Editor RACHEL BEAMER
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Guest Designer TOM BROWN ART+DESIGN
Production Manager Associate Art Director/Webmaster PATRICK NAZER
Contributors MICHEL FAURE, now
retired from L’Express, is pursuing a variety of journalistic ventures • DOROTHY J. GAITER is a New York-based writer and the co-author of four books • TINA ISAAC, the Paris correspondent for Travel + Leisure and Flare magazines, also contributes to a number of other international print and online publications • TRACY KENDRICK is a freelance journalist who often writes about French culture • SARA ROMANO covers cultural topics for a number of international publications • JULIA SAMMUT is a food writer and partner in TravelFood, which offers custom culinary tours • AMY SERAFIN, formerly editor of WHERE Paris, is a Paris-based freelance journalist who has contributed to The New York Times, National Public Radio, Departures and other media • HEATHER STIMMLER-HALL is an author and a hotel and travel writer for Fodor’s, Hotelier International and easyJet inflight. EDITORIAL OFFICE
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Perhaps it’s (yet another) sign of age, but 2003 doesn’t seem that long ago. That was the last time we published an in-depth report on Paris’s palace hotels, telling the story of each one through the eyes of someone who worked there. But in palace time, this past decade has been an eternity. The Six Sisters we profiled—illustrious properties that had reigned over the Paris hotel scene for nearly a century—have since been joined by a new generation of luxury lodgings. The resulting competition to rise to and stay at the top has unleashed a veritable arms race in terms of sky’s-the-limit services and over-the-
Edgar dEgas: ThE PrivaTE imPrEssionisT
Through May 28 The exhibition was organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA and Denenberg Fine Arts, West Hollywood, CA. Corporate Sponsors: Bath Savings Institution Dead River Company
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Edgar Degas and Auguste Clot, Before the Race. Collection of Robert Flynn Johnson. Courtesy Landau Traveling Exhibitions.
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Claude Monet, La Manneporte Vue en Aval (The Manneporte Seen from Below). Scott M. Black Collection. Photo by meyersphoto.com
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f Claude Debussy drew inspiration •from such works of art as HenriEdmond Cross’s dreamy “Les Iles d’Or” (1891-1892), now on view at the Musée de l’Orangerie.
Edited by MELISSA OMERBERG
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Paris & the provinces
Featured at the Musée Maillol, Artemisia Gentileschi’s erotic “Danae” (c. 1612) is said to resemble the artist, who was only 19 when she painted the canvas.
Doisneau and Les Halles Robert Doisneau snapped his first photo of Les Halles in 1933. He returned to the huge food market and its surrounding neighborhood quite often during the next 40 years, chronicling its changes and eventual destruction. The Hôtel de Ville’s Doisneau, Paris Les Halles comprises 150 mostly vintage prints of the neighborhood once known as “the belly of Paris,” with a special room devoted to color photographs taken during the 1960s. Through April 28; paris.fr. Berenice Abbott The Jeu de Paume’s
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the entire career of the American photographer. This important retrospective begins with Abbott’s work in Paris, where she made portraits of artistic and literary luminaries (Eugène Atget, Marcel Duchamp, James Joyce, Jean Cocteau…), moves on to her depictions of New York and southern vernacular architecture, and wraps up with her abstract, experimental images illustrating scientific principles. Through April 29; jeudepaume.org. Masks of the Maya For the Maya, who venerated the color green, jade was a rare and precious stone, so the discovery of 15 jade mosaic masks at burial sites in Mexico was especially thrilling. The Pinacothèque de Paris displays most of these fully restored objects—created for Mayan dignitaries
to ensure eternal life—in Les Masques de jade mayas, together with seven reconstituted Mayan tombs harboring a rich selection of burial offerings. This is the first time these treasures have left Mexico. Through June 10; pinacotheque.com. Claude Debussy A seminal figure in Impressionist music, Claude Debussy drew inspiration from poetry and the visual arts, expressing particular admiration for the works of Degas, Renoir, Gauguin, Redon and Bonnard, among others. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth, the Orangerie’s Debussy, la musique et les arts explores his relationship with the artists of his time through paintings, drawings,
©SAINT LOUIS, THE SAINT LOUIS ART MUSEUM
pastels, letters and photographs. Through June 11; musee-orangerie.fr. Helmut Newton In his provocative and sometimes shocking work, Helmut Newton sought to capture the beauty, eroticism, humor and occasional violence that he sensed within the worlds of fashion, luxury, money and power. This namesake retrospective at the Grand Palais brings together more than 200 prints made under Newton’s supervision. Through June 17; grandpalais.fr. Matisse Motifs Matisse – Paires et series, a landmark exhibit at
the Centre Pompidou, investigates a distinctive facet of the master’s oeuvre: his habit of simultaneously exploring the same motif in two or more creations, using different approaches. The show, which includes some 60 works presented in pairs or series, spans Matisse’s career, from his Pointillist experiments in 1904 to his paper cutouts from the 1950s. Through June 18; centrepompidou.fr. Monumenta 2012 French artist Daniel Buren follows Anish Kapoor, Christian Boltanski, Richard Serra and Anselm Kiefer as guest artist at Paris’s Monumenta 2012, held in the nave of the Grand Palais. (See article, page 36.) May 10 through June 21; monumenta.com. Saint Anne Leonardo da Vinci’s final masterpiece, “Virgin
reopening The PALAIS DE TOKYO reopens its doors on April 12 after undergoing massive renovations lasting more than a year. Having nearly tripled in size, the revamped space—measuring more than 235,000 square feet—is now one of Europe’s largest contemporary art venues.
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To mark the occasion, the Palais de Tokyo hosts the third edition of La Triennale, a wideranging festival of contemporary art. Curated by Okwui Enwezor, the event—subtitled “Intense Proximity”—will investigate what it means to be a working artist in today’s diverse and globalized art scene. April 20 through Aug. 26, latriennale.org.
Visitors at the Pompidou-Metz’s “Bivouac” exhibition contemplate “Clouds” (2008), a room divider •designed by the Bouroullec brothers.
and Child with Saint Anne,” is back on view at the Louvre after undergoing restoration. The museum celebrates its return with L’ultime
civilian democracy, and the rise of social tensions linked to corruption and violence. Through July 8; mam.paris.fr.
chez-d’œuvre de Léonard de Vinci: la Sainte-
reuniting the 1498 oil painting with all the documents, studies, drawings, archival pieces and other works that have contributed to the understanding of how it was created. Through June 25; louvre.fr. Anne,
Degas and the Nude Fresh from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Degas et le nu at the Musée d’Orsay is the first exhibit devoted exclusively to the artist’s treatment of the human body. It begins with early life studies from Degas’s student years in the 1850s, continues with his brothel monotypes and “naturalist” nudes shown performing their toilette, and concludes with a series of bathers. The show features some 160 paintings, sculptures and works on paper. Through July 1; musee-orsay.fr. Mexico 2000-2012 Resisting the Present – Mexico 2000-2012
showcases a generation that is strongly committed to social and political change. Bringing together 24 artists, most born after 1975, this exhibit at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris features installations, videos, drawings, photographs and films dealing with such issues as globalization and technology, dashed hopes for
Bob Dylan at the Cité de la Musique chronicles key moments between 1961 and 1966, the years when the singersongwriter recorded his first albums and then sparked a musical revolution when he “went electric.” Created by L.A.’s Grammy Museum, the exhibit—presenting previously unpublished photos, objects, rare documents and audiovisual archives—tells the story of a personal evolution that both reflected and helped precipitate societal change. Through July 15; citedelamusique.fr. Bob Dylan, l’explosion Rock
Artemisia At a time when women had no legal rights and were utterly dependent on their male relatives, Artemisia Gentileschi carved out a brilliant artistic career. She became the first female painter admitted to Florence’s Accademia del Disegno and ran her own studio in Naples for some 25 years, shaping many of the era’s great talents. The Musée Maillol’s Artemisia 1593/1654 – Pouvoir, gloire et passions d’une femme peintre traces the career of this creative genius who overcame rape, scandal and societal restrictions to amass an extraordinary body of work. Through July 15; museemaillol.com.
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Eugène Atget The Musée Carnavalet focuses on one of the 20th century’s most famous photographers in Eugène Atget, Paris, featuring 230 photographs of the French capital taken between 1898 and 1927. Mixing famous and virtually unknown images of city streets, gardens, quays, traditional shops and itinerant peddlers, the exhibit paints a portrait of Belle Epoque and post-WWI Paris that transcends the usual clichés. A room devoted to an album of 43 Atget prints collected by artist Man Ray in the 1920s reveals Atget’s influence on the Surrealists. April 25 through July 29; carnavalet.paris.fr.
countercultural figure whose satirical view of society’s hypocrisies and absurdities is rendered in a distinctive drawing style. The Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris pays tribute to the artist—a French resident since 1991—in Crumb: De l’Underground à la Genèse, which chronologically explores Crumb’s various obsessions:
associated with pastis, the cloudy anisette beverage that came into its own when absinthe was banned in 1915. With Ricard SA depuis 1932, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs toasts the 80th anniversary of one of France’s most emblematic companies, showcasing the apéritif ’s brand image, advertisements, spin-off products and pop-culture creds. Through Aug. 26; lesartsdecoratifs.fr. Stories of Babar With Les Histoires de Babar, the toy gallery at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs fêtes the 80th birthday of everyone’s favorite elephant king. The exhibit showcases some 100 original drawings from the various storybooks; Babar-inspired toys and games from the 1930s to the present; and archival photos, cartoons and products featuring the famous pachyderm. Through Sept. 2; lesartsdecoratifs.fr. Louis Vuitton – Marc Jacobs The fashion gallery at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs tells the stories of two innovative designers and their indelible contributions to la mode in Louis Vuitton – Marc Jacobs. While analyzing various trends and techniques, the exhibit highlights the many ways in which each man pushed the industry forward, keeping LV on the cusp of contemporary fashion through the force of his own particular vision. Through Oct. 14; lesartsdecoratifs.fr.
Tim Burton Described as “the love child of Walt Disney and Edgar Allen Poe,” Tim Burton is the subject of an eponymous show at the Cinémathèque française. This major exhibit, which originated at MoMA in 2009, showcases the filmmaker’s talents as an illusIlluminating Lighthouses trator, painter, video artist, phoIn the age of electronic navigationtographer and sculptor through al devices, lighthouses have lost some 700 works: drawings, none of their mystique. Phares! at photographs, figurines, objects, the Musée de la Marine sheds light costumes, film clips…. It will • Henri Matisse’s “Capucines à La Danse I” (1912) is part of a landmark on every aspect of these maritime be accompanied by a complete exhibit at the Centre Pompidou. beacons—their history, their sciBurton film retrospective as well entific and technical development, as lectures and workshops. Through Aug. 5; his love/hate/fear of women, his passion for the lives of their keepers, their role in popular cinematheque.fr. music and his acerbic view of the modern culture—through photographs, texts, films world. April 13 through Aug. 19; mam.paris.fr. and objects. A highlight of the show is a fullRobert Crumb sized model of the watch room in the Héaux A founder of the underground comix Eight Decades of Ricard de Bréhat lighthouse in Brittany. Through movement, Robert Crumb is a legendary Summers in the South of France are inevitably Nov. 4; musee-marine.fr. 8
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© T H E M E T R O P O L I TA N M U S E U M O F A R T, N E W Y O R K
Animal Beauty The Grand Palais’s Beauté animale looks at the relationships that Western artists from Albrecht Dürer to Jeff Koons have developed with the animal world through some 130 masterpieces portraying wild and domestic beasts on their own terms, without a human presence. Among the topics explored are aesthetic and moral prejudices, evolution, the sensitivity of animals and their “otherness.” Through July 16; grandpalais.fr.
NORD-PAS DE CALAIS
Die Brücke Founded in Dresden in 1905, Die Brücke sought to form a bridge between past and present. Eschewing all forms of academic art, the group—which played a major role in the development of Expressionism— embraced a common style characterized by vivid colors and emotional tension. The Musée de Grenoble’s
Drawing Together Thirty museums in the Nord-Pas de Calais region join forces to showcase their collections of drawings and watercolors in Dessiner — Tracer: 30 musées; 30 expositions. The artists on view run the gamut from Géricault, Victor Hugo, Burne-Jones, Rodin and Matisse to contemporary creators such as Constantin Xanakis, Catherine Melin and Hans Op de Beeck. Through Sept. 2012; dessinertracer.com.
Die Brücke 1905 – 1914: Aux origines de l’expressionA whimsical illustration from Tim Burton’s •book of children’s poetry, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories (1998), displayed at the Cinémathèque.
nisme features a first-rate selection of paintings and works on paper on loan from Berlin’s Die Brücke Museum, including vibrant canvases by Kirchner, Nolde, Heckel, Schmidt-Rottluff and Pechstein. Through June 17; museedegrenoble.fr.
Masterpieces from Frieder Burda The Frieder Burda Museum in Baden Baden is known throughout Europe for the quality and diversity of its holdings. The Musée Granet’s Les chefs-d’œuvre du Musée Frieder Burda presents more than 50 masterworks— mainly large-format paintings—from that outstanding collection, including works by Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Georg Baselitz, and American painters such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. Also on view: seven particularly moving oversized works from Picasso’s final period. May 26 through Sept. 30 ; museegranet-aixenprovence.fr.
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Eternal Spring A founder and prominent member of Les Nabis, Maurice Denis is the subject of an upcoming exhibit at the Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny. A rare opportunity to view 80 seldom seen paintings and drawings by the prolific artist and acclaimed theoretician, Maurice Denis, l’Eternel Printemps examines the theme of spring in three sections: “The Awakening of Nature in Springtime”; “Christian Spring and Earthly Paradise”; and “The First Signs of Love and The Spring of Life.” Exquisite panels and screens confirm his considerable talents as a decorative painter. April 1 through July 15; mdig.fr.
Robert Combas An exponent of the Figuration Libre movement, Robert Combas has always compared his work to rock music. Robert Combas: Greatest Hits, the first major retrospective devoted to the artist, is accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from his own music collection. More than 200 works are displayed in this exhibit at Lyon’s Musée d’Art Contemporain, examining such themes as religion, sex, love, death, war and of course music. For the duration of the show, Combas will come to the museum on a daily basis to paint and create video clips at a specially designed studio; he will also regularly perform live music on a stage on the third floor. Through July 15; mac-lyon.com. Light show at •Paris’s Musée des Arts et Métiers.
Bivouac Known for open-ended products that establish a dialogue with consumers—users can assemble them in ways that best suit their needs—the Bouroullec brothers aren’t interested in simply designing “cool” objects but in changing how people live and work. Bivouac, the largest museum show devoted to the preternaturally talented duo, comprises nearly all of their creations since 1998 (see feature story in Fall 2011 issue of France Magazine). Through July 30 ; centrepompidou-metz.fr. 1917 The Centre Pompidou-Metz presents a major exhibit on artistic creation during wartime. Focusing on a single, devastating year of WWI, 1917 includes works by major artists such as Duchamp and Brancusi as well as amateur artists coping with horrific events in the trenches. Destruction and reconstruction, both physical and psychological, are among the themes explored by the show, whose highlight is the stage curtain created by Picasso for the ballet “Parade.” May 26 through Sept. 24; centrepompidou-metz.fr.
night at the museums Night owls, mark your calendars: This year’s NUIT EUROPÉENNE DES MUSÉES, when thousands of museums in 40 European countries stay open into the wee hours, is scheduled for Saturday, May 19. More than 1,000 museums in France alone participate in the event, which also features special cultural programs, concerts and light shows. For a complete listing, visit nuitdesmusees.culture.fr.
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The Musée Toulouse-Lautrec’s rich collection includes such masterworks as “La comtesse Adèle de Toulouse-Lautrec” (1881) and “Au salon de la rue des Moulins” (c. 1894).
The southwestern town of Albi is closely associated with the Cathars, a Christian movement that appeared in the Languedoc region during the 11th century and was brutally suppressed 200 years later. But the members of that heretical sect weren’t the only subversive characters linked to this picturesque location. Albi was also the birthplace of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The son of provincial aristocrats, he was born in 1864 and showed early talent as an artist. His family offered encouragement, sending him to Paris to study with a pair of famous salon painters. But once he completed his training, he succumbed to the French capital’s many temptations, drinking to excess, frequenting streetwalkers and other louche types, and eschewing the “proper” themes favored by the Academy. Adopting an instantly recognizable style that drew from Impressionism, Japonism and Art Nouveau, Toulouse-Lautrec gravitated to scandalous subjects such as brothels and dance halls, prostitutes and cabaret stars. While fellow artists (and his mother) looked down on the commissions he accepted from the Moulin Rouge and similar venues, he single-handedly raised advertising posters and lithographs to the level of high art. According to Cora Michael, curator of drawings and prints at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, “It is fair to say that without Lautrec, there would be no Andy Warhol.” Suffering from a congenital bone disease and dwarfism as well as complications from alcoholism and syphilis, the artist passed away at age 36. His mother, the Countess Adèle de Toulouse-Lautrec, dedicated the rest of her life to creating a museum to showcase his work. Upon her death, she bequeathed her own collection to the municipality of Albi, which established the MUSÉE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC in 1922 at the Palais de la Berbie. This 13th-century fortress now houses the world’s largest public collection devoted to the artist, with nearly 1,000 canvases, lithographs, drawings and posters. This spring the public will once again have the opportunity to view those works when the museum reopens its doors following a decade-long, top-to-bottom renovation. Opening April 2; museetoulouselautrec.net.
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© F. P O N S , M U S É E T O U L O U S E - L A U T R E C , A L B I , TA R N
spotlight on... The Musée Toulouse-Lautrec
France Magazine and the French-American Cultural Foundation are honored to receive the support of these distinguished foundations.
For more than 35 years, the Florence Gould Foundation has been actively involved in a variety of projects that further Mrs. Gould’s desire to promote FrenchAmerican amity. Recent efforts include a grant to World Monuments Fund for the planning and documentation of the cloister restoration at the Church of St Trophime in Arles; a grant to The Frick Collection in New York for its upcoming Renoir exhibit; funding for several American Postdoctoral Fellows to study and work at Paris’s Institut Pasteur; and a partnership
The Annenberg Foundation is a longtime supporter of L’Académie Américaine de Danse de Paris, which trains students from around the world.
with the French Heritage Society to aid in repairing the Monumental Staircase of Auch, in Gascony. On a smaller scale, a gift was made to Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo for the acquisition of two Baudets de Poitou, an endangered variety of French donkey. At last report, Samuel and Balthazar had completely settled in and were enjoying their new surroundings as they help educate the public about rare breeds of farm animals.
The Annenberg Foundation is a private family foundation that supports nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally. Its mission is to advance the public well-being through improved communication; as the principal means of achieving this goal, it encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. Since 1989, it has generously funded programs in education and youth development; arts, culture and humanities; civic and community life; health and human services; animal services and the environment. The Foundation contributes to numerous programs that foster cultural exchange between the United States and France. Among its French projects, the Annenberg Foundation provides funding
Samuel and Balthazar, two rare Baudet de Poitou donkeys recently donated to Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo by The Florence Gould Foundation.
to the American Friends of the Louvre for the development of educational tools at the museum and supports L’Académie Américaine de Danse de Paris, which offers American-style dance instruction to students from around the world. In the humanitarian sector, the Foundation funds a wide range of programs including clean water efforts in Africa by CARE France, Médecins du Monde’s youth healthcare projects in Peru, L’Envol pour les enfants européens and the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris. The Foundation continues to be a vital presence abroad and remains among the most generous American contributors to France. annenbergfoundation.org
Beaux Livres MATHIEU LEHANNEUR
edited by Robert Klanten and Sven Ehmann
Familiar to readers of France Magazine, Mathieu Lehanneur is a rising star in the world of French—and indeed global—product design. His recent creations include a plant-based air filtration system, ceramic jars whose shape reflects UN population data for various countries, and workshop rooms for children at the Centre Pompidou. With a preface by Australian design giant Ross Lovegrove, this monograph is the first devoted to Lehanneur and his arresting visual language. Gestalten, $55.
LE ROAD TRIP A Traveler’s Journal of Love and France by Vivian Swift Veteran globetrotter Swift set out to chronicle her French honeymoon but ended up penning a quirky love letter to travel filled with cultural, historical and literary references. Delightful watercolors illustrate this wide-ranging field guide, which offers hilarious travel survival tips for every clime as well as ruminations on subjects as varied as Parisian windows, Breton sailor-stripe shirts and lettuce (not to mention a highly idiosyncratic A-to-Z on vagabonding in the Bordeaux region). Bloomsbury, $24.
Texts by Béatrice Salmon, Edgar Morin et al.
Published in conjunction with a major retrospective at Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs, this new book showcases one of the world’s most unorthodox image makers. A graphic designer, illustrator, photographer and director, Goude redefined advertising and brand photography, devising memorable campaigns for Chanel, Kodak and Galeries Lafayette. This volume features the largest ever collection of his work, from sketches and storyboards to elaborately staged photographs. Thames & Hudson, $49.95.
FRENCH FLAIR Modern Vintage Interiors by Sébastien Siraudeau This latest title from author and lifestyle photographer Siraudeau breaks down French decorating styles into seven categories with plenty of overlap. Whether traditional or contemporary, romantic or eclectic, the interiors featured in this book offer a savvy blend of vintage and modern. Siraudeau has a marvelous eye for detail and a gift for showing how disparate objects combine to create a harmonious whole; admirers of French art de vivre will find much to inspire them. Flammarion, $45.
by Michèle Heuzé
The fabulously creative Victoire de Castellane revolutionized the world of haute joaillerie when she launched Dior Fine Jewelry in 1998. Considered a trailblazer for her use of colored gemstones, she has drawn inspiration from sources as varied as nature, pop culture and Bollywood movies. Packed with sumptuous photographs and sketches, this sparkling volume highlights the timeless beauty of de Castellane’s often fantastical, otherworldly and highly covetable pieces. Rizzoli, $75.
DYNAMIC BEAUTY Sculpture of Art Nouveau Paris
edited by Benjamin Macklowe and Kathleen Moore
In a world undergoing industrial transformation, Art Nouveau prized nature’s flowing lines and organic forms. The female body, too, was celebrated—dancer Loïe Fuller in particular fascinated artists—and sinuous nudes adorned objects ranging from vases and clocks to candlesticks and jewelry. Published to accompany a show at New York’s Macklowe Gallery, this lavishly illustrated new book offers a stunning showcase for women in Art Nouveau sculpture. Macklowe Gallery Press, $95.
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Sons & Images
By RACHEL BEAMER
Audrey Tautou •stars in Delicacy.
DELICACY Adorable Audrey Tautou (Amélie,
Priceless) stars as Nathalie, a successful young businesswoman who tragically loses her husband after only three years of marriage. Coping with his death by throwing herself into her work, Nathalie begins to develop romantic feelings for an awkward employee. Markus (comic actor François Damiens) and Nathalie form an unlikely bond in this drama, overcoming their peers’ judgment along with their own doubts. Directed by David and Stéphane Foenkinos (Heartbreaker), the film is based on Foenkinos’s popular novel of the same name. Co-starring Ariane Ascaride and Bruno Todeschini. Slated release: April. (Cohen Group) FREE MEN Set in German-occupied Paris in 1942, this second feature from director Ismaël
Ferroukhi tells the story of a young Algerian criminal who is offered a way out of jail: working as a collaborator for the French police. Younes (Tahar Rahim) seizes the chance for a new life in this fictional film inspired by historical events but finds it increasingly difficult to spy on the Paris Mosque and its real-life director/founder Ben Gabrit after he befriends a young Jewish singer there. The film’s score was composed by Armand Amar and features trumpet solos by celebrated musician Ibrahim Maalouf. Select screenings. (Film Movement)
Cinephiles may want to pick up the new World Film Locations Paris, edited by Marcelline Block. It has everything you need for a self-guided tour of silver-screen Paris: maps of shooting venues, film stills and plot summaries. Includes movies made from 1932 to 2011. Intellect Books, $18.
Marie Losier spent five years filming her poignant tribute to industrial music pioneer Genesis P-Orridge and his late companion, Lady Jaye. P-Orridge began his pandrogyne project—a series of sex-reassignment surgeries—in 2000 to physically resemble his partner. The award-winning documentary provides an intimate look at the couple’s love story and life together until Lady Jaye’s sudden death in 2007. Shooting with 8mm film and incorporating shots that reference the early history of French filmmaking, Losier has created a highly personal film with a vintage feel. Select screenings. (Marie Losier) CRAZY HORSE Founded
in 1951 by Alain Bernardin and named for the Sioux chief, Le Crazy has become a legendary Paris cabaret, hosting 15 shows per week. This documentary provides a behind-the-scenes look at the current revue, “Désir,” and the arduous schedule and exacting standards the club’s nude dancers (many of whom are conservatorytrained) must meet. Director and MacArthur Fellow Frederick Wiseman (La Danse) interviews perfectionist choreographer Philippe Decouflé and chronicles rehearsals, costume fittings and struggles with management. Select screenings. (Zipporah Films) Additional film and music reviews as well as sound clips are available at francemagazine.org.
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Music Les Effrontés Les Effrontés
Sultry, husky-voiced French-American singer Tiffany Schellenberg and British pianist Robin Harris front this Londonbased jazz band whose self-produced debut reflects their passion for French music. Offering fresh takes on such classics as Serge Gainsbourg’s “Couleur Café” and American jazz standards, the band evocatively merges retro and contemporary. (Les Effrontés) Arthur H Baba Love
Son of beloved French musician Jacques Higelin, Arthur H has built a solid musical career of his own, producing 15 albums during the past 20 years. His newest release combines cool beats with clever lyrics, referencing Greek mythology and the painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. Highlights include duets with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Saul Williams. (Polydor)
COHEN MED IA G ROUP; COURTESY OF M A RIE LOSIER ; A NTOINE POUPEL / COURTESY OF ZIPPOR A H FILMS
THE BALLAD OF GENESIS AND LADY JAYE Director
Notes for the savvy traveler MUSICAL INTERLUDES
Exclusive concert weekends at the Château de La Barre include luxury accommodations and daily classical or jazz performances, •
with opportunities to The elegantly restrained Newhotel Roblin.
• Decorated in soft, warm Newhotel Roblin tastefully
neutrals, the newly refurbished mixes classic and modern furnishings to create a cosseted, masculine atmosphere. Some of the rooms in this elegant four-star establishment feature Empire fireplaces; all have sofas, soundproofing, air conditioning, LCD flat screens and free Wi-Fi. The hotel restaurant—the R Café—serves up inventive seasonal cuisine by chef Fabien Monteil, who trained with Alain Ducasse. From E360; special rates available online. 6 rue Chauveau-Lagarde, 8e; new-hotel.com. • With its ethereal blend of sheer curtains, sparkly metallic fixtures and textured wall treatments, the 34-room Legend Hotel Paris exudes a poetic, dreamy atmosphere. The romantic mood pairs beautifully with modern amenities: iPod stations, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi…. Check out the Honesty Bar, whose lantern-bedecked tree is reflected in a huge overhead mirror. From E194; 151 bis rue de Rennes, 6e; legendhotelparis.com. • The new Résidence Nell features 17 studios and apartments that guests can rent by the night or for longer periods. Designed by the talented Patrick Jouin, the flats offer a savvy mix of traditional and modern—original parquet floors and moldings along with clean-lined, up-to-the-moment furnishings and fixtures. A neutral palette is punctuated by pops of bright orange or green. From E143 including free Wi-Fi; 60 rue Richer, 9 e; residence-richer.com.
private teas, winetastings and gourmet meals at neighboring châteaux; palace tours; and alfresco dining by the Loir river. July 26 through 30 and Aug. 2 through 6; price upon request; chateaudelabarre.com.
Once the winter weather has gone, bicycles once again become a wonderful way to explore the French capital. All of the following tour companies offer English-speaking guides: • Paris à Vélo c’est Sympa takes small groups to unusual and charming sites, from hidden courtyards to cités fleuries and artists’ workshops. €18 to €34; parisvelosympa.com. • Bike About Tours prides itself on showing travelers quaint back streets and non-touristy neighborhoods. €34; bikeabouttours.com. • Paris Bike Tour offers special packages allowing riders to combine bike tours with museum visits. From €30; parisbiketour.net.
Also on the menu:
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COURTESY OF NE WHOTEL ROBLIN
mingle with the artists.
The captain and his crew wish you a delicious journey with top-notch chefs’ menus and grands crus wines in La Première First Class, gourmet meals and fine wines in Affaires Business Class, varied menus in Voyageur Economy Class, and complimentary Champagne served in all classes on long-haul flights.* *On all U.S. routes except Orlando–Paris
making the sky the best place on earth
Notes for the savvy traveler WINE AND SONG
One of the • National Archives’
One of the world’s
newly restored gardens, now open to the public.
largest wine festivals, Bordeaux’s biennial Fête du Vin is both an
oenological and a musical celebration. Held on the city’s waterfront, this event features 10 tasting Les Archives Nationales were established in 1808 by Napoleon in the 14th-century Hôtel Soubise. As the archives grew, more mansions were annexed to form the group of buildings that today take up an entire city block in the Marais. And for the first time in history, their hidden gardens—newly restored by landscape architect Louis Benech—are open to the public. • Jardin d’Assy Returned to the charming romantic style in vogue during the July Monarchy and Second Empire, this garden has a tiny stream winding through a lush fern grove and several botanical rarities, including a mature Indian horse chestnut—the only one in Paris. • Jardin de Fontenay A pair of trellis gazebos lead to a flowering parterre of colorful annuals planted in homage to the 17th-century French naturalist Dezallier d’Argenville. • Jardin de Jaucourt A secluded sunken garden is bordered by a sculpted yew hedge and Chanticleer pear trees that evoke an orchard that once stood here. • Jardin de Rohan Located outside the Hôtel de Rohan, the largest garden has a vast central lawn framed by two rows of plane trees and benches. Main entrance at 60 rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 3e; open daily; archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr.
• Mmmozza is the perfect alternative for those who don’t have time for a bistro lunch. This mozzarella bar sells every variety of the cheese, purchased directly from small producers in Southern Italy, as well as succulent ham and ricotta di bufala. You can eat on site or order to go. About €20 per person; 57 rue de Bretagne, 3e; Tel. 33-1/42-71-82-98. • Au Passage boasts all the trappings of the traditional neighborhood bistro—counter, tiles, mirrors—but what’s on the plate is thoroughly modern. Start lunch with crunchy caramelized turnips with a slightly spicy salad of violets topped with mullet roe. Move on to the crispy-skinned magret de canard, served with pureed almonds and extra-creamy cauliflower. Wrap it all up with a chocolate ganache with kumquats and hazelnuts. Lunch menu at €17; 1 bis passage SaintSébastien, 11e; Tel. 33-1/43-55-07-52. • Causses features light lunches along with gourmet goodies to slip in your suitcase. This spacious new grocery located in now-trendy Pigalle offers delicacies without additives, dyes or preservatives; fresh and local produce; and top European food brands. Try the sausage with mashed potatoes and red cabbage salad, accompanied by a glass of Marcel Richaud Cairanne or La Mortuacienne lemonade. About €15 per person; 55 rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, 9e; Tel. 33-1/53-16-10-10. Heather Stimmler-Hall and Julia Sammut contributed to this section.
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pavilions representing 80 appellations and an array of regional products. Evenings bring concerts by the Bordeaux Aquitaine symphony and jazz vocalists Stacey Kent and Dianne Reeves, as well as spectacular firework displays. Tasting passes E15; June 28 through July 1; bordeaux-fête-le-vin.com. ©ERIC SANDER ; FRÉDÉRIC BARON-MORIN
Homage a Jean Frédéric Bazille 1840 – 1871 • Tranquility & Class The artwork Family Reunion (1867–1868) inspired contemporary painter John Pacovsky as he created this, one of more than 150 pieces in our Absente Homage to Great Artists Collection.
GRANDE ABSENTE ~Absinthe Originale Its maker’s private recipe has stood uncompromised since 1860. Hand-crafted in Provence. Only fine botanicals of the region are selected – including artemisia absinthium, the wormwood of legend. Grande Absente is 138 proof so please enjoy responsibly.
Grande Absente Liqueur, 69% ALC/VOL., Grande Absente and Grande Absente Logo are trademarks owned by M. P. Roux, Imported from France by Crillon Importers Ltd., Paramus, NJ 07652 © 2012
What’s in store BRINGING UP BABY There’s nothing cutesy about eliumstudio’s sleek white INFANTCARE PRODUCTS for Withings. Their latest offerings: a scale that can send information directly to the pediatrician and a smart baby monitor that works with iOS devices. Parents can receive sound and video on their iPhone, talk to baby, play prerecorded lullabies and activate a multicolored nightlight. withings.com. THE EGG AND EYE The deconstructed seductress portrayed in José Levy’s fourpiece “LES COCOTES” collection for Atelier Le Tallec boasts more than a porcelain complexion—inside her hand-painted Limoges interior, she can conceal a precious object or perhaps a note. And that’s no yolk. €145 to €180; atelierletallec.com.
TAKE IT OUTSIDE Roche Bobois rules the patio with “Ferré,” a breezy new OUTDOOR FURNITURE collection by Cédric Dequidt. Lacquered stainless-steel tubes lend a light, colorful note to the line, which includes a sofa, armchair, dining table and coffee table. From $2,610; roche-bobois.com.
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© 2 0 12 W I T H I N G S ; AT E L I E R L E TA L L E C ; M I N A K A N I ; R O C H E - B O B O I S
Minikani creates high-quality, limited-edition WALLPAPERS that channel Jules Verne and Bret Easton Ellis, folklore and op-art. Their bold designs and surprising hues are definitely striking, but never off-the-wall. €65 per square meter; minakaniwalls.com.
UP, UP AND AWAY Award-winning designer FX Balléry has always been fascinated by hot air balloons. His hornbeamwood MONTGOLFIÈRE CONTAINERS for the Jurabased brand Y A PAS LE FEU AU LAC are perfect for nuts, candy… the sky’s the limit. From €65; yplfl.com.
FIRE AWAY Fire Design’s raison d’être: to ensure that FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
actually look hot. The metal cylinders come in every imaginable color and pattern. Want a canister that resembles a bottle of Bordeaux? They’ve got it! For U.S. retailers, visit fire-design.fr.
IT’S A WRAP
Y 'A PA S L E F E U A U L A C ; F I R E D E S I G N © 2 0 11 ; A U G U S T I N E PA R I S ; N O É D U C H A U F O U R L A W R A N C E ; M A L F R O Y
Time to put that heavy winter muffler in storage. Malfroy’s latest collection of silk and linen SCARVES features cheerful patterns and sweet pastels that are perfect for spring and summer. malfroy.com
TICKLED PINK The proud holder of a Living Heritage label, Augustine by Thierry Gripoix creates handcrafted PÂTE DE VERRE JEWELRY using a technique developed by the current owner’s great-grandmother (her biggest fan was Coco Chanel). The 2012 spring collection features all kinds of flowery goodness in delicate pink, opalescent and vibrant red tones. augustine-paris.fr
MUSICAL TABLES If contemporary design is your mantra, check out Noé Duchaufour Lawrance’s “Monk” for Pleyel. Inspired by the singing bowls used by Tibetan lamas, this low, copperlined TABLE combines Buddhist sensibilities with high-quality French manufacturing. noeduchaufourlawrance.com
à la carte
French food & drink in America
By DOROTHY J. GAITER
TASTE OF HONEY Sweet yet earthy, Platin’s TRUFFLED is a delectable complement to blue or goat cheese, prosciutto and rare steak. Actual truffle pieces give it its rich aroma. $20 for 3.5 oz; QuelObjet.com. ACACIA HONEY
Good Wine, Good Food, Good Causes • HEART-HEALTHY BORDEAUX First growth Château Mouton Rothschild will be the featured wine at this year’s Heart’s Delight wine tasting and auction, to be held May 2 through 5 in Washington, DC. As always, a number of other leading Bordeaux châteaux will participate in this annual fundraiser, which since 1999 has raised $10 Heart’s Delight auctioneer million for the American Heart Jamie Ritchie, winemakers Patrick Association. Highlights this year Maroteaux and Alfred Tesseron. include intimate dinners with winemakers in private homes and embassies, CBS newsman Bill Plante presiding as Master of Ceremonies and a tasting of the celebrated 2009 Bordeaux vintage. heartsdelightwineauction.org • SPRINGTIME IN NEW YORK If you missed Relais & Châteaux’s grand dinner at Versailles last year, you may want to be at New York’s Gotham Hall this April 16. The celebration, which fêted the addition of French gastronomy to UNESCO’s World Heritage list, was so successful that it became the kickoff for a World Culinary Tour; chefs from Relais & Châteaux establishments around the world will convene in different cities to regale guests and raise money for local charities. This year, proceeds will go to New York’s Citymeals-on-Wheels. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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LOOKING SHARP Philippe Starck marks his 25-year collaboration with cutlery manufacturer Forge de Laguiole with a new series of TABLE KNIVES celebrating the four elements. “Log” débuted in January; the others will be released throughout the year. $334 for a set of six; for U.S. availability, check forge-de-laguiole.com.
• A PRINCELY GIFT Château Haut-Brion, the famous Bordeaux first growth, was the vinous star of the 12th annual Naples Winter Wine Festival, which raised $12.2 million at its charity auction in January for Collier County’s underprivileged and at-risk children. Prince Robert of Luxembourg, president of Clarence Dillon Wines (owners of Château Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion), donated a spectacular lot that featured Haut-Brion from 1935 to 2009 as well as six bottles each of 2010 Haut-Brion Blanc and Rouge. The bidding was so exuberant that the prince donated another identical lot. Each went for $550,000, and a 35-bottle vertical of Haut-Brion spanning 84 years from an anonymous donor went for $320,000. The festival’s theme was “Believe in the Magic.” Indeed. napleswinefestival.com According to a regional • BURGUNDY BACCHANALIA Imagine dictionary, paule is the passionate Burgundy drinkers and famous old word for pelle, or winemakers sharing their wines over a long, shovel; la paulée is the long lunch: That’s La Paulée. In the Middle lunch that takes place Ages, monks and vineyard workers feasted after the wine vats to celebrate the harvest’s end, and in 1923, have been cleaned with Burgundy grower Jules Lafon held his first paules, or a lunch so Paulée. The custom spread, and now it’s copious that you eat an annual event that is part of Les Trois with a paule. Glorieuses, a three-day celebration that also includes the famous Hospices de Beaune wine auction. Since 2000, Daniel Johnnes, wine director for Daniel Boulud’s restaurant empire, has been organizing homages to La Paulée de Meursault in New York, San Francisco and Aspen. The 11th, recently held in San Francisco, lasted three days and raised $184,000 for the Bocuse d’Or USA Foundation and the local chapter of Meals on Wheels. Participating chefs included Boulud, Thomas Keller and Romain Chapel of Restaurant Alain Chapel near Lyon. No wonder it’s called the world’s classiest BYOB party. lapaulee.com
Q U E L O B J E T; E K O B O ; L A G U I O L E ; H E A R T ’ S D E L I G H T
Well-known for its eco-friendly, fairtrade ethos, Ekobo offers sleek home goods in lacquered bamboo. The company’s new MIRO TONGS make every salad a work of art. $23; for U.S. availability, check ekobohome.com.
mille feuilles • Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas. An American blogger (dessertfordinner.com) moves to Paris in search of all things sweet, including perhaps a husband. She falls in love— not with a man but with the city—and provides an outstanding guidebook to chocolates and bakeries in both New York and Paris. Sourcebooks, $14.99. • Nature: Simple, Healthy and Good by Alain Ducasse with Paule Neyrat. The great chef offers 190 recipes made from fresh ingredients that are remarkably simple and presented in plain, easy-to-follow English. Who knew that ketchup—yes, ketchup—could sound so good? Rizzoli New York, $45. • Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking With a French Accent by Ellise Pierce. A young woman from Texas follows her French boyfriend to Paris, misses her home cooking, has trouble finding the same ingredients and so invents a kind of TexFrench cuisine. Delightful and delicious, with interesting recipes, though her guy still prefers pizza. Running Press, $25. • Pierre Hermé Pastries by Pierre Hermé. You won’t want to get butter stains on these pages. The master pastry chef ’s gorgeous new book—the first in a decade—features more than 100 to-diefor desserts, from a “cheesecake mosaic”
made with pistachio mousse and sour cherries to a charlotte piled high with curly chocolate shavings. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $50. • La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life by Béatrice Peltre. Beautiful design, beautiful pictures and beautiful memories make these recipes seem special. To wit: the buttermilk, lemon, poppy seed and quinoa pancakes that grew out of an anniversary trip to Crete. Roost Books, $35. • French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon. Why do French children enjoy real food—and why aren’t they fat? A Canadian mother ponders these questions when she moves to Brittany with her French husband. “Learning how to eat like the French was not just about my kids eating vegetables,” she concludes, after a long struggle. “It was about changing how we nourished ourselves.” William Morrow, $24.99. • The Wines of Michel Chapoutier by Jean-Charles Chapuzet. The Chapoutier name has been a standard of excellence in the Rhône long enough to bring a smile to wine lovers of all ages. This coffee-table book focuses on Michel, who took over the winery in 1990. The prose can be as purple as the grapes, but the photographs by Patrick LeClerc are stunning and the tasting notes by Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve mouthwatering. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $45.
When people taste one bad red wine, they don’t say ‘I don’t like red wines,’ but if they taste a bad sweet wine, they reject them all. It’s awful.
— Bérénice Lurton, owner of Château Climens (Barsac). Her 2005 (about $140), still very young, is losing its baby fat and is already gorgeous, especially on the long, cloud-like finish. F R A N C E • S PR I N G 2 012
à la carte
Talking stars & bbq with…
French food & drink in America
TURNING A PAGE AT MICHELIN’S LEGENDARY RED GUIDES
Michelin, the French tire company and creator of the famous restaurant and hotel references, broke new ground last year when it named an American to head its Red Guides, which now cover 23 countries. Michael L. Ellis, 53, was born in Manhattan and raised in Denver; he fell in love with France when he was 16 and has lived there since 1988. In 2007, after a career
No, that would go against our basic concept and values. The job of the inspector remains as it always has been: purely anonymous and independent. What is new is that in France, we are launching a Web site, michelinrestaurant.fr, that will list many restaurants, including the 4,289 that are already in the Michelin Red
in the wine, travel and beverage-packaging industries, he became an executive in Michelin’s “two-wheel tire division” (i.e., motorcycles). His first Red Guide to France appeared on the newsstands on March 1, with reviews of 4,289 restaurants, 594 of them starred. You are very well traveled and speak French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. That is unusual for an American. I had the opportunity to live in many countries while working for various multinational companies, and that helped a lot, but my interest in languages goes way back. In 10th grade, my class went to Europe, and when we visited Paris, I thought, “Wow, this is for me, I could make a life for myself here.” I went on to get a master’s in international studies, thinking that I wanted to work for a government organization. But I soon learned that being an international bureaucrat was not as interesting as I had thought, so I went into the wine and spirits business instead. Within a few years, I had moved to Paris, where I got my MBA at INSEAD. Basically, I was willing to do pretty much anything to live abroad and speak foreign languages. What excites you most about taking the helm of the Michelin guides? Without a doubt it’s the challenge of upholding the tradition of being THE reference in the world of gastronomy. The hundred-year-old history of the Michelin guides is unparalleled, and it is a great honor and a privilege to have this opportunity. Michelin has never charged restaurants for inclusion in its guides, even though they lose some $24 million annually. Will that change? 24
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opinions are based on certain criteria. There’s a lot of noise out there, but we will continue to be the gold standard. How do you want people to use the guides, whether online or paper? I want them to use the guides every day when selecting hotels and restaurants. Whether it’s a three-star to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary, or a local bistro for a dinner with the spouse and kids. It’s not just about the stars. The guides are much broader than that. I don’t want restaurants that don’t have stars to fall into oblivion or be forgotten. There are a lot of great restaurants with great value for the money out there, and we want to help people find them.
Guide France (they will all be clearly identified). Inclusion in this online guide will be free, just as it is for our print products. However, the restaurants that wish to enhance their Web presence with pictures, menus or promotions may do so for a nominal fee. This is a major change for us. It’s not a comfortable exercise, going into the world of the unknown, branching out from the world of paper publishing like this! But we are moving forward, reviewing our potential mix of digital and print products for other countries and cities as well and should have a clear view of the direction we will be taking by the end of 2012. How do the guides stay relevant at a time when everybody is a critic, when everybody has an online forum? Everyone has an opinion, but whom do you believe? Unlike most online reviews, our selections are made by professionals. On blogs and the like, you can find widely varying opinions of the same restaurant. We have a very structured, cohesive approach to our selections; our
Your 2012 France guide added one more three-star restaurant— Flocons de Sel in Megève—for a total of 26. There are now 105 three-stars worldwide, and Japan alone has 29. Does that ruffle the French? No, I don’t think so. Japan’s population is more than 120 million compared with 60 million in France, so it’s really not surprising. Japan has a deep-rooted culinary history going back many thousands of years, a fabulously rich gastronomic history. I think that recognizing that excellence is good for everybody. And if you look carefully, you’ll find that many, many Japanese starred chefs studied in France and have paid their dues in some French kitchen somewhere. You have surely dined in many of the world’s top restaurants. What was your most memorable meal? Memorable meals are a function of being in a memorable place with a memorable person. I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed many such occasions. Whether it was in a great restaurant in Rome or Paris or eating Texas barbecue, there was always good company and good food—that’s f what it’s all about.
© P H I L I P P E S T R O P PA
iFrench for Kids by TRACY KENDRICK
Anyone who has seen a toddler play with an iPad or iPhone can tell you that the learning curve is minimal; no longer wobbly and distractible, the small child soon displays a deft-handed focus reminiscent of a gaming teenager’s. While many parents don’t want their kids whiling away their early years playing Angry Birds, the intuitive quality of the touch-screen interface and an ever-growing number of excellent educational apps make these devices invaluable to those wishing to introduce a foreign language—in this case, French—into their household. Even monolingual parents can now offer their children interactive language-learning experiences.
For those starting from scratch, an app that delivers lots of bang for the buck— a nd one t hat ma ny fa milies a lready own—is the popular 123 Color, a talking paint-by-letters/numbers game. Just switch the language to French, and your child will learn son alphabet incidentally while playing. And unlike strictly learn-to-count apps, which often stop at 10, this one goes all the way to 30. A freeform option voices the names of 30 colors (granted, the profiles are occasionally off, as in the case of the olive-like jaune foncé). A good next step is T’choupi joue avec les lettres, featuring a beloved cartoon character who looks to be part boy, part penguin. Although the instructions are voiced, the app is simple enough for nonFrench-speakers to use easily. The highlight 26
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is a tappable alphabet; each letter reveals a picture with various elements (A: arbre, âne, appareil photo, arrosoir) blanked out. The missing items, which appear at the bottom of the screen, must be inserted like puzzle pieces into their proper place, at which time the word is both voiced and displayed. When the picture is complete, it comes to life with a simple animation. The much livelier (and addictive) Lola’s A lphabet Tra in— another app some might already be using in English—has everything a young child could ask for: In addition to Lola the panda, her steam engine and carnival music, there are toys to be purchased with points earned by, say, identifying letters correctly. Three levels allow kids to master the alphabet and go on to learn more than 100 words both
orally and in written form. The simple instructions are voiced over and over, so the child can pick up some basic French syntax as well. Other games are better suited to children whose parents speak some French and can help them understand the instructions. These include T’choupi joue avec les couleurs, which offers nine simple colorbased activities—pouring bain moussant into T’choupi’s tub and then popping any pink bubbles that float up, or feeding T’choupi the brown pieces from a box of chocolates (your child may well prefer to give him the wrong ones just to hear him say, “Beurk!”). The “Imagidoux” apps La ferme and Les transports allow children to learn the names of animals and vehicles by touching their pictures and then interact with a related scene—rubbing the screen to help the pig uncover apples in the mud or tilting the device to make the bicycle move. (On the Apple App Store, search for “Gründ,” the publisher of the books on which the apps are based; you’ll have to change the language setting on your device to play in French.) One big plus is the inclusion of articles to indicate the gender of the words, a frustrating omission in many other picture-dictionary apps.
N AT H A N ; Z I N D R O E D E S I G N ; G A L L I M A R D J E U N E S S E
a growing list of apps makes learning french child’s play
For more advanced speakers, several Dora the Explorer apps—neither as pointedly educational nor as formulaic as the television series—include French versions, with (accented) English rather than Spanish as the secondary language. In addition, some Dora DVDs have a French soundtrack option, making it possible to switch from Swiper the fox and Boots the monkey to Chipeur le renard and Babouche le singe. The apps in the “Apprends avec Poko” series—Les animaux!, Les saisons! and Additions ! —each offer three levels of activities firmly grounded in the North American curriculum. (Readers may be familiar with the English versions, sold separately as the “i Learn With Poko” series.) For example, the child might be asked to identify an animal from a series of clues or choose pictures for a photo album based on the weather shown. At the other end of the spectrum are the charmingly illustrated Stella et Sacha (Stella and Sam) apps. (Again, you’ll have to change your device’s language setting to access the French version.) Based on a popular Canadian book and television series about a girl and her little brother, they eschew the trappings of educational programming in favor of a more organic experience inspired by childhood wonder. Each full-screen animated “adventure” has three embedded games, such as connectthe-stars or building a pont magique out of
Apps are the •perfect languagelearning tool for the plugged-in, 21st-century family. Clockwise from far left: T’choupi, a cartoon character who appears to be part boy, part penguin; Stella et Sacha; Cendrillon and 3 petits cochons, the first two fairy tale offerings from Gallimard Jeunesse; and the ladybugs of La coccinelle.
Finally, the offerings of Gallimard Jeunesse a re tru ly outsta nding (a nd available for sampling in free lite versions). La coccinelle and La forêt—the f irst two apps based on books from the well-
Kids can help the little pigs build their houses, only to assist the grand méchant loup in destroying them by blowing into the microphone. flowers to allow ants to cross a stream. Most games have several variations, adding an element of surprise that keeps kids coming back. Although the apps are available only for the iPad, those who don’t own one (or would just like to save a few dollars) are in luck: The content is available online at disneyjunior.ca, minus the touch-screen interface, of course.
known reference series “Mes premières découvertes”—are both beautiful and highly educational: Who among you can identify a toxic amanite tue-mouches mushroom? W hile t he la ng ua ge may exceed t he comprehension of some kids, the activities will keep them interested. In La coccinelle, they can put their finger on the screen and watch ladybugs circle around it, or help a
ladybug gobble up aphids; in La forêt, they can find creatures hidden in the woods or make flowers sprout up by touching colored dots. Due out next is Les dinosaures, sure to be an easy sell to any child. The company’s first two contes illustrés, 3 petits cochons and Cendrillon, are equally impressive. Voiced by children and set to lively music, they are like animated shorts packed with interactive features; unlike the Stella et Sacha apps, however, they include text. Kids can help the little pigs build their houses, only to assist the grand méchant loup in destroying them by blowing into the microphone; they can assemble Cinderella’s carriage, or switch the music at the ball from traditional to funky to North African and watch the dancers keep step. In terms of language learning, one of the best things about these apps is that the characters talk when tapped, allowing the user to hear idiomatic speech in context (Cinderella on the dance floor: “J’adore ce morceau!”) and also see it written in a speech bubble. As one little pig says at the end of her tale, “On s’amuse bien!” F R A N C E • S PR I N G 2 012
LA VIE EN â€˘
Only Mother Nature herself knows plants better than Patrick Blanc, inventor of the vertical garden. By AMY SERAFIN
Right: Acclaimed botanist Patrick Blanc has traveled the globe studying plants. Here he explores the jungle in Batukai, Bali.
F R A N C E â€˘ S P R I N G 2012
STEP INTO PATRICK BLANC’S HOUSE IN SUBURBAN PARIS,
he’s looking out of the corner of his eye, identifying unusual plants tucked into the recesses of the conservatory,” he says. “It’s remarkable. In all the years we’ve been doing this show we’ve rarely had a designer who can tell the difference between two palms, let alone identify a rare tropical plant by sight. And not in flower, just by foliage.” Blanc is the Indiana Jones of the botany world, a researcher at the prestigious Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) who spends at least half of every year trekking to the most remote reaches of the Earth to study what grows there, from the Everardia montana he spotted while dangling from a rope on a cliff face in Venezuela to the Trochodendron aralioides, or wheel tree, he found emerging from the trunk of a 2,500-year-old cypress in northeastern Taiwan. He has heard a tiger growl in Cambodia • (“when the guide is the first person Blanc is the Indiana to run away, you start to wonder”), seen countless poisonous Jones of the botany snakes (“anybody who tells you world, a researcher they flee when humans approach who spends at least is wrong”) and caught nearly evhalf of every year ery tropical disease in the book. In the spring of 2009 he was trekking to the most exploring plant life on Palawan remote reaches of the Island in the Philippines with his Earth to study what longtime partner, Pascal Héni (a grows there. singer known as Pascal of Bollywood for his renditions of Hindi • movie songs), when he came upon a begonia with intriguing, spatula-shaped leaves. A previously unknown species, it has since been named for him: Begonia blancii. The pair returned to the site with a tropical botanist from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and a YouTube video from that trip shows Blanc baptizing his plant with a sprinkle of Veuve Clicquot. “One drop, one leaf, voilà,” he laughs. When we meet, he has just come back from a research expedition to Laos. The group was using a radeau des cimes, a weblike contraption composed of pontoons and netting that is transported by dirigible and placed directly on the tree canopy, permitting scientists to study its rich biodiversity. His traveling companions included Gilles Ebersolt, the architect who created this Jules Verne-like invention. Ebersolt also designed Blanc and Héni’s new home, a two-story structure with an inner courtyard and wrought iron railings shaped like ivy. Flora and fauna now flourish in every room, and Blanc’s open-plan office is like a jungle, with a magnificent wall of plants from around the world and a floor that is actually the glass top of a 20 x 23-foot aquarium that harbors aquatic plants and 2,000 tiny tropical fish in more than 5,000 gallons of water. The botanist gives his visitor an enthusiastic tour of the premises, smiling when the birds awaken all at once and emerge like magic from the greenery of the wall. He sprinkles fish food into the aquarium, lovingly caresses the leaves of a Taiwanese plant and shows off the open-air shower on the
and it’s not just the city you’ve left behind. You are suddenly in some undefinable foreign land, where tiny tropical fish swim underfoot, pudgy little white-eyed birds from East Africa flutter overhead, leafgreen lizards peek out from between the books of a well-stocked library, and plants from around the globe sprout from a wall two stories high. Then there’s Blanc himself, an otherworldly figure with his green hair and matching tie-dyed T-shirt, wearing shorts and flipflops, summer and winter alike. Blanc, 58, is the inventor of the mur végétal, or vertical garden, where plants grow horizontally, without soil, indoors or out, on surfaces of any size. His works of art (he calls them “green paintings”) bring a burst of nature to urban settings from the Quai Branly museum in Paris to a luxury apartment building in Sydney. This spring he is the guest of honor at the New York Botanical Garden, planting an original creation for the 10th annual Orchid Show, which runs through April 22. Most people discover Blanc when they see one of his walls, so they tend to think of him as an artist or designer working in the plant world. Those who have the opportunity to meet him, however, are awed by the depth of his scientific expertise. This unusual combination of knowledge and artistic talent has put him in a class by himself, alone at the top of his field more than three decades after creating his first vertical garden and despite a growing number of imitators. Todd Forrest, vice president for horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, calls the Frenchman a “world-class botanist” with an incredible understanding of plant morphology and ecological attributes. “Every Above: In 2005, Bordeaux’s Square Vinet became the first public square to feature a vertical garden. time Patrick comes to visit us, 30
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Above: In 2006, Blanc’s wall at the Quai Branly put him on the map. Below: In 2007, Qantas airlines opted for a green wall for its Sydney lounge.
FRANCE • SPRING 2012
upstairs patio that he uses every day, no matter what the weather. Friends and acquaintances speak fondly of Blanc; designer Olivia Putman calls him the most poetic person she knows. A glass of rosé in hand, he makes himself comfortable on a couch covered with multicolored throw pillows, beneath a poster of 1930s Swedish singer Zarah Leander. Behind him the underwater spotlights of the aquarium floor glow softly and the chirping of birds blends into the murmur of his wall’s watering system, like a trickling waterfall. This is his oldest existing wall, planted 30 years ago at his former home and transplanted to the new house in segments, to which he is continually adding. It is different from the walls he designs for his clients, with more unplanted patches where mosses can grow. “There are many plants here that are not spectacular,” he says. “I like that. Clients always want plants that look like something special, but in the forest most of them don’t look like much.” HE HAS BEEN FASCINATED WITH THE NATURAL WORLD
since he was a boy growing up in an apartment west of Paris. As he recalls, “I always liked small tropical fish and plants, heat and humidity. Was it something about my mother’s womb? I don’t know.” In any case, he was fortunate to have a wonderfully indulgent mother who allowed him to set up a tropical aquarium and use his bedroom as a laboratory, took him to any museum exhibit featuring plants and birds, and didn’t bat an eye when BLANC’S GREENING he grew his fingernails long at age OF AMERICA 12, in homage to Edith Piaf (they Patrick Blanc has completed several are still impressive). His father, an projects stateside, including one inauguinspector with the labor ministry, rated last year at the Drew School in San would fill containers with founFrancisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood (below). Landscape architect Bonnie tain water on his way home from Fisher explains that her firm, ROMA work so that Patrick could top up Design Group, had been hired to build a his aquarium. sustainably green addition. “We wanted it to be green in appearance as well as performance, and we thought, wouldn’t it be great to do a vertical garden?” They were inspired by Blanc’s walls in Paris but assumed he would turn down the project, so they asked local companies for similar ideas. “We soon came to the conclusion no one else could do anything close to what Patrick could do,” she says. So they sent him their proposal, and to their surprise, he accepted the job.
Fisher thought she would have to introduce Blanc to local flora but was quickly disabused of that notion. His final design incorporated about 100 different species of native California plants, almost as many as you can see at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. “A number of the plants flower, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds,” she says. “And the kids are very engaged with the
Left: A mur végétal turns a nondescript corporate office in Paris’s 10th arrondissement into a dramatic statement.
At around age 15, after reading in a German scientific journal that plant roots could purify aquarium water, Blanc took a cutting from his mother’s philodendron and attached it to the filter. Within weeks, the plant was sending new roots into the water—and Blanc’s career path took root along with it. He placed the aquarium on the floor, added more plants, attached them to a bamboo trellis and created a waterfall. Only occasionally did it flood the downstairs neighbors’ apartment. At 19, Blanc took a trip to Thailand and had an epiphany in the tropical forest of the Khao Yai • National Park, where he saw vegetation growing from tree trunks, At 19, Blanc had an behind waterfalls, on rocks and epiphany in the in the understory. He realized tropical forest of that plants could live almost anyThailand, where he saw where, low or high, in light or shadow, with or without soil. vegetation growing from Back home he continued extree trunks, behind perimenting, attaching plants to waterfalls, on rocks. He a wooden plank with staples, trying different mosses and irriga- realized that plants could tion systems, hoping to re-create live almost anywhere. what he had seen in Thailand • within the confines of an apartment. He ran into a few snags, such as decomposing moss and excess acidity in the water, but after a few years of trial and error, he at last hit upon the formula that he still uses today. He covers a rigid, waterproof board, generally PVC, with synthetic, non-biodegradable felt (which acts like a thin layer of algae or moss) and affixes plants with rustproof staples until the roots take hold. A pump regulated by a clock keeps the felt moist. The vertical gardens require minimal upkeep; weeds don’t grow, and because of the variety of species, the walls resist any diseases that might decimate a monoculture. After earning a PhD in botwall; it has become part of both the sciany at the renowned Université ence and the art curricula. But it is also Pierre et Marie Curie, Blanc a tremendous source of pride; students showed his first vertical garden feel like they are part of a school that has publicly in 1986, at the Cité des done this tremendous thing.” Yet other examples of Blanc’s work Sciences et de l’Industrie at La may be seen in the following locations: Villette. It received very little attention, but he was too absorbed • Juvia Restaurant, Miami, FL (2011) in his research to be disap• Foundation for the Carolinas, Charlotte, NC (2011) pointed. In 1991, he planted his • SC Johnson, Racine, WI (2010) first outdoor vertical garden, on a • Tacoma Goodwill, Tacoma, WA (2009) concrete wall near his home, and • Capitol Clothing Shop, three years later he was invited Charlotte, NC (2008) • PhytoUniverse, New York, NY (2006) to create a green wall for the In• Marithé + François Girbaud, ternational Garden Festival at New York, NY (2003) Chaumont-sur-Loire. This time • La Bastide Restaurant, it garnered enormous interest, as Los Angeles, CA (2002) architects and designers suddenly saw the potential for integrating vertical gardens into their plans. One of them was Jean Nouvel, who asked Blanc to collaborate on plans for the French Embassy in Berlin. That project was never realized, but the two men have worked together several times since. “A new element has been added to the architectural lexicon,” writes Nouvel in his preface to Blanc’s book, The Vertical Garden. Their most renowned achievement to date is the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, which brought Blanc international acclaim when it opened in 2006. FRANCE • SPRING 2012
It was thanks to an interior designer, Andrée Putman, that Blanc received his first architectural commission. In 2001, Putman was transforming a former American Legion headquarters near Avenue Montaigne into a luxury boutique hotel, the Pershing Hall, and had to mask an unattractive wall in the courtyard. As Olivia Putman, who now runs the agency, recalls, “My mother was the first to give Patrick a chance. She understood that his process, which worked very well for walls a few meters in height, could also work for a project 30 meters [100 feet] high.” Blanc planted it with some 200 different species; the hotel with its stupendous vertical garden immediately became one of the hottest addresses in the city.
Below: Blanc’s sinuous vertical garden at Hong Kong's Icon Hotel and one of the preparatory sketches for the project.
FIRST DRAWN IN PENCIL THEN TRACED IN MARKER,
Blanc’s sketches resemble antique maps, a tapestry of small areas labeled with different plant names in his tiny scrawl. One wall can boast hundreds of species in infinite shades of green, with different shapes and patterns. (Blanc is not a huge fan of flowers.) He selects plants to suit each particular environment, from the sunny climate of Australia to the humid darkness of a parking garage. At the top of a wall he places more simply shaped plants that can resist exposure to sun and wind, while shade-loving plants from the forest understory have their place at the bottom. Blanc estimates that he has created vertical gardens in more than 200 locations over the years, including a shopping mall in Bangkok; a museum in Kanazawa, Japan; the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris; the CaixaForum museum in Madrid, designed by architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron; a concrete overpass in Aix-en-Provence; an alley near the Gare de l’Est in Paris (at 16,000 square feet, it is his biggest surface yet); and high-end hotels and restaurants in Hong Kong, London and Miami Beach. Despite this workload, he maintains the smallest of staffs: FOR ARMCHAIR GARDENERS one assistant, a former CNRS stuThe next best thing to an actual vertident named Jean-Luc Le Goualcal garden: the coffee-table book. The lec, plus a couple of men who revised and updated edition of Patrick travel around the world overseeing Blanc’s The Vertical Garden, From Nathe independent local companies ture to the City (Norton) is coming out in English this April. Illustrated with 150 that install each wall. Potential cliphotographs, it describes the extraordients must contact Blanc through nary plants that Blanc has spotted in nathis Web site, and Le Gouallec sifts ural settings from dank caves in Borneo through the requests. A budget to the banks of the Amazon, followed by a visual catalogue of vertical gardens he for a Patrick Blanc wall includes has created around the world, including the cost of installation, around his current projects. He also wrote the €50 per square foot (he notes this foreword to Noémie Vialard’s new Garis no more expensive than other dening Vertically, published by Norton and due out in April 2012. high-quality surfaces) plus Blanc’s 34
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fee, which is a percentage of a project’s overall cost and can run as high as six figures for large ones. His luckiest friends have received vertical gardens for free; he surprised one of them on her birthday with a wall covered with aromatic plants. As his reputation has grown he has received commissions for bigger and more complicated projects. In Sydney, he is currently working with Nouvel on One Central Park, a dramatic residential building in the city center with a façade 380 feet high. In Bahrain, Blanc is installing a vertical garden on a building at the entrance to the ancient city of Muharraq, to evoke an oasis. Sandstorms and temperatures that can climb up to 120 degrees are among the myriad challenges here, and he has chosen 200 types of plants in the hope that at least two-thirds will survive the first several months. In Miami, he is working with Herzog and de Meuron on a new art museum, covering 70 outdoor columns with plants so that the building appears to be suspended above the ground in hanging vines. Some plants will be exposed to sunlight while others are in shade, and they must be hurricane-resistant. Not all of the columns descend to the ground, making water runoff a challenge. Much has been written about the environmental impact of vertical gardens—insulating effects, carbon sequestration—but Blanc freely admits that’s not their greatest • advantage. For one thing, they A single wall can require non-environmentally friendly materials such as PVC to boast hundreds of keep from disintegrating. For anspecies in infinite other, they consume energy and shades of green, with water—though when possible, different shapes Blanc recycles rainwater and gray water (all domestic waste water and patterns. Each plant except sewage). is selected to suit He says the primary role of that particular vertical gardens is to bring greenenvironment. ery to the city at a time when more than half the planet lives in • urban settings. “It’s a way of saying that all is not lost, man can coexist with nature,” he notes. What concerns him more than global warming—as he points out, plants love carbon dioxide anyway—is the widespread leveling of forests. “If you destroy the microforest in northern Palawan to plant sugarcane so you can put ethanol in your car, the Begonia blancii will disappear forever, without any chance to adapt.” For a moment, he sounds like the Petit Prince worrying about his beloved rose. When I ask if there is a spiritual aspect to his work, he takes a long pause before answering: “If there weren’t, how could I create this?” He turns to look at the miraculous little world he has planted in his home. “Why else would I spend hours staring at it, looking at each leaf, instead of working?” In the métro going home, I open his book to read the inscription he has just written: “Stay faithful in love, for f plants or people, it’s the same thing.”
Clockwise from above: Gardens by Blanc at the SC Johnson Company in Racine, WI (2010), a private home in Brussels (2005) and the Trussardi Café in Milan (2008).
FRANCE • SPRING 2012
THIS MAY, AN ARTIST OF A DIFFERENT STRIPE BRINGS HIS OUTSIZED VISIONS TO THE GRAND PALAIS.
DANIEL BUREN By SARA ROMANO
Left: Buren’s “Les Deux Plateaux” (1985-86), in the courtyard of Paris’s Palais Royal.
—a year before rioting students barricaded the streets of Paris and brought the capital to a standstill—a rebellious young artist named Daniel Buren led his own all-out assault on the establishment. Just as the soixante-huitards would thumb their noses at authority, young Buren taunted the art world’s old guard. Quietly and anonymously, he fly-posted large green-and-white striped sheets of paper on walls throughout the capital, covering posters summoning Parisians to vote for local politicians or catch a new movie. Buren’s mystery manifestos looked like wallpaper; at the time, no ordinary passerby would have mistaken them for art. Forty-five years have elapsed. Buren—still deploying the same striped motif—is now a full-fledged member of the cultural establishment that he lampooned and France’s best-known living artist. Reflecting his standing in the art world, he has been invited to take over the cavernous Grand Palais this May with a site-specific commission as part of the five-year-old Monumenta series. (His forerunners: Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra, Christian Boltanski and Anish Kapoor.) Like his fellow artists, he will be given carte blanche to fill the space in the building’s expansive glass-domed nave. “It’s one of the most complicated spaces that could ever be given to an artist,” says Buren. “And it’s a major risk to accept the invitation. You can make something that is extraordinary and seen by a huge audience, or you can make something that is a big flop—a very visible flop.” The challenge, he says, is not the size of the Grand Palais—that doesn’t faze him—it’s the building’s “strong visual and physical characteristics.” The exhibition organizers seem confident that he is up to the task, citing his “capacity to establish a critical and visual dialogue with the places he takes over.” This quality, they say, makes him “an especially well-suited choice to respond to the unique challenges posed by Monumenta.” While the Grand Palais project will no doubt attract considerable international attention, it is unlikely that this or any of his other installations will eclipse the fame of the zebra-striped marble columns he inaugurated in 1986 in the 17th-century courtyard of the Palais Royal. Viciously attacked by critics while under construction, the columns were quickly embraced by the visiting public and have since become a famous and beloved Paris landmark (see sidebar, page 43).
At 74, Buren remains something of a rebel, steadfastly hon-
oring his iconoclastic artistic vision. Despite the dismissive sneers that his ubiquitous stripes have occasionally provoked over the years, he has stuck with them. Rather than reaching for paintbrush and canvas or producing shiny and expensive sculptures as some of his peers have done, he has stayed true to his fly-posting, soixante-huitard self, tirelessly taking over surfaces and spaces with his signature stripes. Since the 1960s, these have included staircases, train doors, windows, glass domes, awnings and even the waistcoats of museum guards. And Buren’s work has sprung up everywhere from Berlin’s Ministry of Labor to Tokyo’s Odaiba Bay and Beijing’s Temple of Heaven. Known to Joe Public as “the stripe guy,” he has no shortage of supporters among museum directors and curators around the world. But he still has his detractors. “Buren’s work can cause irritation and even jealousy among those who never bother to take their feet out 38
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of their pantoufles,” says Anne Baldassari, director of Paris’s Picasso Museum. She knows the artist well, having published a book of conversations with him and, in 2008-09, hosted a Buren in situ installation at her museum. “Some critics’ reactions remind me of the comment made since the early 20th century about Picasso’s work: ‘Any child could do that.’ “Does painting mean working with a brush, a palette and a little bit of color? Daniel Buren’s answer is no,” she explains. “He has selected and created his own visual tool by working with an existing tool: inexpensive fabric. Once you realize that fabric is his can of paint, you focus on what he actually does with it. He questions and transforms the urban environment, gives us something different to look at.” Buren himself would not put it differently. His aim, he says, is to take art off its pedestal, out of its museum or gallery “packaging.” No more idol-worshipping of an artwork or of its maker, no more banking on the object’s marketability: Buren’s art is site-specific and often ephemeral. “Most of my work can exist only in the place it is made for,” says the artist. “Ninety-eight percent of what I’ve done can be seen, examined, consumed or destroyed only in that location. I put the packaging in the work, and vice versa.” If viewers find his contributions monotonous, so be it. “To say that the stripes are repetitive is to conclude exactly what I intended, both in practice and in theory,” he shrugs. “It’s as if you said, ‘Jackson Pollock’s work is completely silly because he doesn’t use a paintbrush.’ Pollock didn’t invent dripping so that he could use a paintbrush.” Decades on, he continues to reinterpret his preferred leitmotif in daring and unexpected ways. Last year, his exhibition at London’s 45-year-old Lisson Gallery included arrangements of wall-mounted rectangles and squares of striped fabric made from woven fiber optics, a technique he developed in collaboration with the famous Lyon silkmaker Brochier. Their blue, red, green and orange stripes cast a soft glow on the walls when lit; when turned off, they resembled sheets of simple white linen. Buren is a familiar presence at Lisson, which has represented the artist since the early 1970s. “In the mid- to late-’60s, when I was still quite young, I became very interested in and attracted to conceptual and minimal art,” says gallery founder Nicholas Logsdail. “We invented a whole new set of rules and a brave new world, and Daniel was very much a part of that.” Logsdail sold three of the Buren pieces in the recent Lisson show and points out that the artist’s early works now fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even the in situ installation Buren mounted in the back of the gallery—a mezzanine-like construction with transparent panes of different shades casting pools of color on the floor and ceiling—may be sold to architects, who are thinking about incorporating it into a building. “ONCE YOU REALIZE “Throughout his life, Daniel has THAT FABRIC IS been like a dog with a bone, reiteratBUREN’S CAN OF PAINT, YOU FOCUS ON ing and reiterating his ideas and his position with his work, in a very unWHAT HE ACTUALLY rhetorical way,” says Logsdail. “It’s DOES WITH IT. HE extraordinary what he’s done, and QUESTIONS AND beautiful. It is the artists who have TRANSFORMS THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT, an authentic history, one that is not manufactured for commercial purGIVES US SOMEposes, who are held in the highest esTHING DIFFERENT teem the longest.” TO LOOK AT.”
“Papiers collés orange et blanc” (1970), Galerie MTL, Brussels.
“The Eye of the Storm” (2005), Guggenheim Museum, New York. “Echos” (2011), Centre Pompidou-Metz.
“Les Anneaux” (2007), Nantes.
Buren working on a series of scarves for Hermès at the Villa Panza, Biumo, Italy in 2011.
“Photo-souvenir” (1971), acrylic on woven red-and-white fabric, MOCA, Los Angeles.
FRANCE • FALL 2011
Buren used his famous striped fabric to make the exuberant windsocks in “Le Vent souffle où il veut” (2009), an installation created for the “Beaufort 03” art show in De Haan, Belgium.
“Modulation” (2009), Neues Museum, Nuremberg, Germany.
“Cela va sans dire” (2011), Centre d’art La Chapelle Jeanne d’Arc, Thouars.
Daniel Buren was born in the Paris suburb of
Boulogne-Billancourt in March 1938—a year before the start of the Nazi occupation. His parents were stenographers. Buren discloses little, however, about his childhood and adolescence, insisting that his personal life offers no clues to understanding his oeuvre. “About my childhood, I will say nothing,” he says kindly but firmly. “An artist’s life story is not very interesting compared with the work he does. What I object to most is that discussing an artist’s past puts the individual before the work; I’ve always wanted to promote the work over and above all else.” Baldassari of the Musée Picasso empathizes with Buren. Excessive media exposure can be detrimental, she points out, as it was in Picasso’s case. “People will forever be talking about Picasso the child prodigy, Picasso the lady-killer and so on. And it’s rubbish, complete nonsense. It did a profound disservice to the understanding of his art. What Daniel Buren wants to convey through his analytical, transformational work is the knowledge that can lead to a better grasp of artistic practice. He refuses to pose as the omnipotent, omniscient artist dispensing words of wisdom.” Buren does acknowledge that his talent got him noticed when he was barely out of his teens. Shortly after graduating from Paris’s Ecole nationale supérieure des métiers d’art, he was lucky enough to receive a special commission: to create wall paintings for the Grapetree Bay Hotel in St. Croix, the U.S. Virgin Islands. An admirer of Matisse, Picasso and Léger as well as of Mexican mural painters such as José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera, Buren spent a year making giant figurative paintings of dance, music and sporting activities—and got the practice out of his system once and for all. “THROUGHOUT HIS “In one stroke, I was able to LIFE, DANIEL HAS shake off a whole way of express- BEEN LIKE A DOG ing myself, of painting, of creating WITH A BONE, figurative works,” he remembers. REITERATING AND “In one year, I was able to get rid REITERATING HIS of what otherwise, without that IDEAS AND HIS opportunity, would have taken me POSITION WITH HIS years to eliminate.” WORK, IN A VERY Five years later, in 1965, the UN-RHETORICAL WAY. hotel’s owners invited him back IT’S EXTRAORDINARY to create large mosaics, which he WHAT HE’S DONE, did, using pebbles, broken plates, AND BEAUTIFUL." 42
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chipped ashtrays, discarded tiles and whatever else he could lay his hands on. (The works were all destroyed in a hurricane years later.) He also began making paintings on large bed sheets—the only material he could find in sufficient quantity on the island. They, in turn, led him to the fabric that would change his life: awning canvas that he picked up at the Marché Saint Pierre in Montmartre in the mid-1960s. It came in different colors with stripes that were each 8.7 centimeters wide. “I went looking for material that would be larger than the bed sheets, and that’s when I found the awning fabric,” he recalls. “I started working with it, and from then on, I never worked with anything else.”
Though he won both the Prix Lefranc and the Prix de
la Biennale de Paris in 1965, Buren found the art world ossified and ripe for change. Unable to overhaul the system alone, he banded together with three other artists: Michel Parmentier, Niele Toroni and Olivier Mosset. Together they put on three happenings. In one, at the 1967 Salon de la Jeune Peinture, the trio played a tape recording that said “Nous ne sommes pas peintres” (“We are not painters”). In another, which took place in the lecture hall of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, they had a seated audience stare at four similar-looking square canvases. Buren’s was a piece of his favorite fabric with a couple of the white stripes painted over—in white. By this time, Buren was aware of the work of his peers across the pond: Ad Reinhardt, who for years painted the same black paintings, and Robert Ryman, who produced only white canvases. The Frenchman was honored when in 1971 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York invited him (as one of four European artists) to take part in its Sixth International Exhibition— alongside the crème de la crème of American art: Ryman, Serra, Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre and Robert Morris. Each was assigned an individual booth on Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiraling ramp.
“Les Deux Plateaux,” intially controversial and now a beloved Paris landmark.
Buren in Paris (2007).
PALAIS COUP BUREN’S COLUMNS KNOCKED PUBLIC SCULPTURE OFF ITS PEDESTAL It’s July 30, 1986, in the courtyard of Paris’s Palais Royal. A crowd has gathered behind barriers put up to shield a controversial new work of art. There are tourists, couples, mothers with children and an old lady with a white poodle who repeatedly instructs her pet to urinate through the bars. Why all the fuss? Daniel Buren’s work “Les Deux Plateaux” is about to be unveiled to the public, and much of Paris is abuzz. The press has reported that the installation consists of rows of zebrastriped marble columns of varying heights sprouting from an underground platform with fountains running through it. Such a work would have dismayed no one had it been intended for an office complex or a housing project, but Buren’s creation was conceived specifically for the 17thcentury cour d’honneur of what was once the official residence of Cardinal Richelieu. Never mind that this space had for years been used as a parking lot; Parisians don’t like anyone messing with their monuments historiques. Today “Les Deux Plateaux” is part of Paris’s cultural woodwork and a popular tourist destination. Children hop on and
Buren decided to festoon the circular building with his signature stripes by dropping a 60foot banner from dome to floor. Another exterior banner would connect the two Guggenheim buildings. The selection committee approved the proposal. Yet the day before opening, artists Judd and Flavin declared they would walk out if Buren’s project wasn’t removed. Judd called Buren “a paperhanger,” and Flavin termed the installation “a ruthless negative gesture intended to advance his marginal career.” Buren bitterly withdrew, later recalling how hard it was for him to get another New York gallery show. (The Guggenheim would make up for it in 2005 by giving Buren a solo show.) Buren continued his interventions in buildings and institutional sites until 1986, when his zebra columns went up in the Palais Royal courtyard. It was a watershed year. He also represented France at the Venice Biennale, covering the century-old French pavilion—inside and out—with thin mirrored strips that reflected the surrounding gardens; the installation won the Golden Lion award. Over the years, Buren has occasionally stepped outside the framework of his in situ works. In 2007-08, he curated a thoughtprovoking exhibition in which Sophie Calle had friends react to a rejection letter from her boyfriend. In 2010, he designed a silk scarf for Hermès— an expensive item (about $7,000) created with an inkjet
off the columns, lovers lean over them to kiss, teenagers on skateboards weave around them. Some 40 million people have wandered through the courtyard since the 1986 inauguration. At the artist’s urging, the work has just been renovated; thanks to a €4 million overhaul, the fountains and lights are working once again, and the columns look like new. For Anne Baldassari, director of the Musée Picasso, “Les Deux Plateaux” is a milestone in the history of sculpture given that it is one of the first great works of contemporary art to appear in a public space in France and, more important, on the site of a historic monument. In addition, she says, “it questions the whole concept of sculpture as an object that people walk around and look up at in a submissive way, such as statues glorifying monarchs or leaders. Buren breaks the concept of the dominant object into a thousand pieces—or however many columns there are. He transforms it into an object that itself is dominated.” From the beginning, “Les Deux Plateaux” ran into obstacles that went way beyond the offending pet. Its origins date back to 1985, when Culture Minister Jack Lang showed President François Mitterrand a series of proposals for an outdoor artwork within the Palais Royal courtyard. Cleared of cars and oil stains, the square was actually very beautiful. Without hesitation, Mitterrand picked Buren’s design. It was less than a year before parliamentary elections that the Socialists looked certain to lose, so the project had to be rushed through. Construction started immediately and proceeded at
incredible speed; by February 1986, most of the columns were in place. Then the courts stepped in. The Tribunal de Paris ordered that work be suspended on procedural grounds, a ruling that was upheld a month later by the Conseil d’Etat. In March, conservative Jacques Chirac became prime minister—cohabiting with the Socialist Mitterrand, who was still president—and let it be known that he had no affection whatsoever for Buren’s installation. Fortunately for Buren, Culture Minister François Léotard stood firm, deciding that it was important for the government to honor the commitments made by its predecessors. Buren helped convince him. “I told the minister that if in a year’s time this square, which in any event had been a parking lot, turned out to be absolutely deserted and of no interest to anyone, I would agree for it to be replaced by something else,” Buren recalls. “A public artwork that the public turns away from is completely messed up—it’s a failure.” Even with Léotard on board, Buren faced adversity on multiple fronts during the months leading up to the inauguration. The press spearheaded the assault, with Le Figaro publishing a how-to guide to vandalizing what it called a “Greek temple in a zebra costume.” Among other things, it recommended spray cans and crowbars. Then on July 30, the barriers finally came down. “I witnessed a 180-degree turnaround,” remembers Buren. “People were able to see the piece and interact with it, and it became clear within a couple of weeks that the public had adopted it.” Today the work is as much a part of Paris as the Louvre Pyramid or the Eiffel Tower (itself an object of derision when it was first put up). “The Palais Royal has been transformed. Stores have opened, people go for walks around the courtyard, and it’s become a place that Parisians visit repeatedly,” says Buren. “It’s been quite extraordinary, something that I know very few living artists get to experience.” —SR
printer at the Hermès workshops in Lyon. Buren went on to design 365 different carrés. While each is eminently frameable, the artist insists that they are meant to be worn. After Monumenta, Buren will take his stripes on the road—or rails, to be more precise. Seven of his 8.7 cm bands, alternating in black and white, will run vertically down the edges of the sliding doors of Tours’s new tramway. Slated to go into service in 2013, the futuristic vehicle is being touted as “architecture in motion.” Overhangs above the rails in each station will have matching stripes, indicating to travelers where the doors will open when the next tram arrives. In 2016, British commuters will get their own Buren treatment: The artist has been commissioned to create a permanent installation inside the London Underground’s Tottenham Court Road station. Some 200,000 people file through Tottenham daily, making f it an even more visible platform than Monumenta. Monumenta 2012 will be held at Paris’s Grand Palais May 10 through June 21; monumenta.com. FRANCE • SPRING 2012
DURING THE PAST FEW YEARS, A WAVE OF NEWCOMERS HAS TRANSFORMED THE PARIS PALACE LANDSCAPE—AND THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING. FRANCE MAGAZINE TAKES A LOOK AT WHAT’S NEW, AND WHAT WILL SOON BE NEW AGAIN.
By TINA ISAAC
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This page: The Plaza Athénée continues to deliver the ultimate in Parisian refinement while integrating fresh twists such as this “framed” view of the Eiffel Tower. Left: From seasonal cupcakes to exotic cuisine, palace dining has never been more exciting. Here, a lobster dish from Le Diane restaurant at Fouquet’s Barrière, which just earned its first Michelin star. FRANCE • FALL 2011
LESS THAN A DECADE AGO, palace hotels provided guests with a predictable if posh experience: gilded fauteuils, monumental chandeliers and hushed service that was heavy on ceremony. Then within a few years, all the rules changed. No longer were history and opulence enough. Suddenly, a palace was expected to showcase top design talents. Spas morphed from glorified in-house beauty salons into extraordinary destinations in their own right. Gastronomy, once a strictly classical affair, was expected to surprise anew, preferably with a locavore slant to reflect the times. Creative directors and even curators became nearly as common as concierges. The first tremors of this tectonic shift were perceptible early in the new millennium, when Jeff Leatham’s dramatic and edgy floral arrangements blossomed throughout the George V, challenging the rococo bouquets that had always been standard palace issue. Then in 2001, the elegant Plaza Athénée unveiled its astonishing icebergshaped bar designed by Patrick Jouin; almost overnight, it became the hippest watering hole in town. A few years later, the Meurice asked Philippe Starck to turn its pretty Winter Garden into a tribute to former client Salvador Dalí—a startling move by a hotel whose inspiration had always been more Marie Antoinette than Man Ray. The earthquake itself struck in June 2008, when the Royal Monceau hosted its now famous Demolition Party. Emptied of most of its furnishings, the Art Deco-era building on avenue Hoche had been reduced to an empty shell with an open bar. Contemporary art installations were set up in a few rooms to mark the occasion, but to drive home the main point, guests were provided with hammers. The event became orgiastic to the point where organizers finally had to call in the fire department to control the crowds. In retrospect, it was a turning point for the entire hotel scene. At the time, the Royal Monceau’s new owner, fortysomething entrepreneur Alexandre Allard, promised to reinstate the kind of “living gallery” that the Ritz had been in the 1920s: a place where local and international artists, writers and musicians could mingle “in an enriching environment with unparalleled services” such as a private music-recording studio. Although the property changed hands before the renovations were finished, the new owners honored Allard’s original vision, pushing the notion of a palace experience into brave new territory. When the Royal Monceau re-opened in October 2010, guests discovered a mind-bending décor by Philippe Starck; temporary and permanent exhibitions and an in-house curator to oversee 46
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Right: For more than a century, the Crillon’s magnificent dining room, a registered historic landmark, has awed French and international visitors alike. Above: Parisians too are palace guests, enjoying special-occasion dinners, power breakfasts or top-of-the-line spa treatments. Here, two women chat over tea at the George V.
them; a shop with an extensive collection of art books and designer objets; an outpost of the bellwether fashion boutique L’Eclaireur; a private movie theater; and a brunch headlining Pierre Hermé, the “Picasso of pastries,” which despite its €93 price tag is one of the hardest tables to book in town. Underscoring its elite ambitions was a minimum nightly rate that, for the first time, broke the €1,000 mark. A rock star had crashed the ladies’ tea. All of a sudden, the grandes dames began to look their age.
The Six Sisters
For close to a century, six institutions dominated the Paris palace scene: the Ritz Paris, the Meurice, the Plaza Athénée, the George V, the Bristol and the Crillon. Created to cater to heads of state and wealthy travelers who often came for extended stays, they offered the most luxurious accommodations in town with unsurpassed service and lavish reception areas for gatherings among guests, the artists they patronized and the writers who chronicled their lives. In terms of architecture, the doyennes are the Crillon and the Ritz. The former was built in 1758 by Ange-Jacques Gabriel for King Louis XV on the Place de la Concorde (then known as the Place Louis XV). Originally housing royal offices, it was eventually bought by the Count de Crillon and remained in private hands until 1907, when it was taken over by the Société des Grands Magasins et des Hôtels du Louvre, owned by the wealthy Taittinger family. The group purchased two adjacent buildings and reopened the Crillon as a luxury hotel in 1909. The Ritz’s 18th-century Mansart façade is all that remains of what was originally the privately owned Hôtel de Gramont, which by the mid-19th century had become a financial institution. In 1898, it was purchased by the Swiss hotelier César Ritz and chef Auguste Escoffier, freshly arrived in Paris following a financial scandal at the
Savoy in London. An instant success, the Ritz was boldly modern for the times, offering such amenities as en suite bathrooms. It is also reputed to have been the first hotel in Europe to equip every room with electricity and telephones. But it was the clientele that sealed its legendary status. Proust wrote part of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu in its galleries and cast the maitre d’hôtel as one of his characters. Cole Porter is said to have composed “Begin the Beguine” in the hotel bar. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel once wrote to César Ritz: “How could I not remain loyal to you? … For you, as for me, what one doesn’t see must be as beautiful as what is seen. Luxury is nothing more than that.” The designer lived here for 37 years, and her private suite remains intact. Then there was loyal patron Ernest Hemingway, who famously said, “When in Paris, the only reason not to stay at the Ritz is if you can’t afford it.” The bar that bears his name is arguably the most celebrated in town. The Meurice may not have the oldest stones, but it can lay claim to being the oldest palace. Designed specifically to cater to wealthy British travelers, the original relais-hôtel was founded by
postmaster Charles-Augustin Meurice on rue Saint-Honoré in 1818. It moved to its current location across from the Tuileries in 1835, and its success was such that it received a palatial renovation in 1905. A royal roster of patrons soon earned it the moniker “Hotel of Kings”: Queen Victoria slept here, as did Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, and his new wife, Wallis Simpson. Spanish King Alphonse XIII also set up his residence in exile here, eventually drawing in his wake Salvador Dalí, who spent a month here every year for 30 years. The three “younger” sisters date from the early 20th century. The Plaza Athénée opened on avenue Montaigne in 1913, and its clientele was so fashionable that Christian Dior decided to locate his first boutique across the street. The Bristol, which took its name from a high-living English count of the day, was reconfigured from the former residence of the epicurean Count Jules de Castellane; in 1925 it opened a block away from the presidential palace, on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The George V, which like the avenue is named for the English monarch, followed in 1928 and has remained a consistent favorite among an international clientele. The hotel notably served as General Eisenhower’s headquarters during the Liberation of Paris in 1944. Despite the fact that no official “palace” ranking existed (and that the term itself was borrowed from the English), the world in general and Parisians in particular seemed to agree on the basic recipe: historical and cultural importance, service that was beyond reproach, a certain caliber of guest and luxury à la française. It was clear to everyone which establishments made the grade and which did not.
When Five Stars Are Not Enough
For nearly a century, palace hotels remained the travel equivalent of haute couture: impeccably appointed, expensive and hand-finished down to the last detail. Each institution had its place in the social, political, cultural and architectural landscape of the city. In broad strokes, aristocrats tended to favor the Crillon, traveling heads of state the discreet Meurice, the fashion crowd the Plaza Athénée, and above them all towered the Ritz. By the turn of the 21st century, every one of the six palaces had passed into non-French ownership, a fact that was occasionally lamented in the press but hardly seemed to matter to the clientele. The product itself was timeless; a palace was the quintessence of Paris. By the summer of 2011, there had been two major shifts. One was a wave of newcomers that included the aforementioned Royal Monceau, Fouquet’s Barrière (on the Champs-Elysées) and the Park FRANCE • SPRING 2012
In recent years, the palace cocktail has been shaken and stirred, resulting in ever greater choices for guests. Clockwise from top left: Patrick Jouin’s imaginative décor at the Plaza Athénée echoes the creative cuisine of chef Alain Ducasse; the Asian-inspired spa at the Mandarin Oriental; custom-blended drinks at the Shangri-La; a provocative take on the hotel hallway at the Royal Monceau.
At Paris’s top hotels, attention to detail and personal service are considered essential. Clockwise from top left: The Bristol’s classic stairway is transformed by a clever cascading light fixture; Fouquet’s offers special programs for children; the George V has made lavish, edgy floral arrangements part of its signature style; the Shangri-La indulges with everything from luxurious bed linens to exquisite passementerie.
Hyatt (on the tony rue de la Paix). Two Asian-owned properties, the Shangri-La and the Mandarin Oriental, also made their débuts, sending shock waves of excitement through the industry. The Shangri-La opened in December 2010 in the 16th arrondissement, giving new life to a grand edifice that was originally the hôtel particulier of Napoleon I’s grandnephew but had more recently housed government offices. The group spent four years and untold millions restoring the building and its long-obscured details— neoclassical motifs, mosaics, mahogany trim—to their original state. Nearly half the rooms have a balcony or terrace, many with startlingly up-close views of the Eiffel Tower, and the hotel is the first to boast two gastronomic restaurants, both of which immediately won over critics. Even more remarkable, one is Cantonese, representing a high-profile break with palace protocol. Six months later, the Mandarin Oriental opened on rue Saint-Honoré, just around the corner from the Place Vendôme. The Art Deco façade set the tone for the overall aesthetic; wow factors include an enormous inner courtyard, an expansive, exotic spa and a nod to the neighborhood’s fashion connection with Sur Mesure, the gastronomic restaurant whose über-hip, all-white décor signaled that palace dining was about to be redefined. And in the kitchen? Celebrity chef Thierry Marx, famous for his uncanny resemblance to Bruce Willis, wildly inventive cuisine and passion for all things Asian. The other change came via the Ministry of Tourism, which expanded the hotel ranking system by moving from a four- to a five-star scale. By May 2011, the government had approved an even more rarefied designation, elevating to “Palace” rank four of the capital’s 130 five-star luxury hotels: the Bristol, the Plaza Athénée, the Meurice and the Park Hyatt Paris. By all accounts, there were good intentions behind the move, but it resulted in controversy, a media storm and no small amount of confusion. For example, it was never made clear exactly why the George V—a perennial leader on Best Hotel lists worldwide—did not make the first cut (within months, that slight was rectified). And while industry executives may privately express exasperation or bewilderment with the process, the consensus is that, now that an official “Palace” category exists, it is important to become a member of this elite club. Earning the new distinction reportedly rests on more than 200 criteria related to a hotel’s history, cultural significance, amenities and, especially, service. Once awarded, the certification remains valid for five years. “Palace establishments have always had a patina of history, continuity and a certain prominence,” notes Isabelle Maurin, 50
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communications director at the Plaza Athénée. “When the government created this new Palace rank, it was important for us to have it. But we hope that it will not be awarded too liberally.” This May, officials will announce which of this year’s applicants will join the Palace club. Meanwhile, two more luxury-hotel openings are on the horizon: the Peninsula Hotel owned by the HSH group (2013) and LVMH’s Cheval Blanc (2015), in the building that once housed the Samaritaine department store. There are also rumors of a luxury hotel project involving Armani and the Emaar Hotels and Resorts, as well as talk of a Bulgari-branded establishment. With the arrival of so many new competitors, three of the original palaces have either announced they are closing or are expected to do so—wholly or partially—in order to improve their game. The Ritz, which has not been totally remodeled in more than 30 years and still has no air conditioning, will shut its doors on July 31 for a 27-month renovation spearheaded by interior architect Thierry Despont. This fall, the Crillon, which was the first palace to have a Michelin-starred restaurant yet still lacks a
Left: The Shangri-La’s L’Abeille dining room artfully combines the opulent glory of the Second Empire with a 21st-century sensibility. Above: A gold-plated bathroom faucet at the Ritz, an example of the many exquisite details that have long made this hotel one of the best in the world.
spa and pool, will close for two years, with the entire hotel slated for a “profound transformation.” And while the Plaza Athénée will remain open, its owner, the Brunei Investment Agency, has acquired three adjacent buildings and voiced plans to begin turning the additional space into much-needed common areas such as banquet halls and perhaps additional suites.
Once upon a time, luxury travelers had “their” home away from home in Paris. Today, that level of loyalty is the exception, not the rule. Last-minute planning, wider offerings and changing demographics mean greater volatility for all luxury hotels. While these establishments continue to lure international guests with ever more extravagant and imaginative amenities, palace managers unanimously agree that what matters most today are the intangibles: capturing a comfort zone where everything flows smoothly, anticipating needs before they are voiced, cultivating the palace soul. To accomplish this, hotels are focusing on extreme personalization. This can be seen in countless seemingly tiny details, such as using a guest’s name rather than a number on coat-check tickets or addressing clients by name even before they can introduce themselves. Some offer “guardian angel” services, whereby clients’ preferences are tracked so closely that they may arrive to find their room precisely as they left it on their previous stay, complete with the personal belongings the hotel stored for them between visits. “The difference between a five-star and a palace is rather subjective,” admits Didier Le Calvez, managing director of the Bristol. “But there are a certain number of elements that are mandatory in a palace. You can’t just have a legendary name.” The Bristol, for example, has just renovated its three-star restaurant, Epicure, from floor to ceiling, inaugurated a three-level spa in partnership with La Prairie and refreshed some 30 rooms and suites, to the tune of about €25 million. This summer, it will unveil its own spin on a club-style bar. And while some managers keep ahead of the curve with snazzy technology, Le Calvez prefers to focus on his hotel’s family atmosphere. One of the first things he brought to the Bristol when he arrived in 2010 was a Burmese cat named Fa-raon, now a minor celebrity in his own right. “I would never have done that if we didn’t have a real garden,” he says, drawing a parallel with the warmth that Jeff Leatham’s luminous, majestic floral arrangements brought to the massive marble halls of the George V, an initiative taken during Le Calvez’s tenure there. “The staff and guests
love Fa-raon. It wouldn’t work in the Ritz, but it does here.” Other top managers agree that the palace touch is more an art than a science. “Few cities in the world have the historical heritage that Paris does; it still has to shine like it did 100 years ago, it still has to have magic,” says Francisco Garcia, marketing director of the Four Seasons George V. And making magic, he adds, happens behind the scenes. “Anyone with means can buy expensive stuff. The culture of going above and beyond is what is priceless, and that can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t.” Still, is there room in Paris for so many palaces? Industry observers say there is, noting that Paris has long trailed London, Milan and Berlin when it comes to the number of top luxury rooms. “In all, there are currently about 1,200,” observes Alain Borgers, managing director of the Shangri-La Paris. “That’s not enormous when you consider that Paris is one of the rare cities in the world that people repeatedly visit for leisure. You see the Pyramids once, you go on a safari once. But you come back to Paris again and again.” That said, he adds that the Shangri-La’s first European venture was not about opening a palace per se. “There are plenty of palaces that do an extraordinary job. Our aim was to introduce our culture of hospitality to Paris.” This notably involved appointing a full-time artistic director. A former fashion journalist, Maud Lesur now oversees floral compositions, arts de la table and other decorative elements that are designed to constantly renew and refresh the hotel experience. To usher in the Chinese New Year, for example, Lesur adorned the common areas with red flowers, red crystal stemware and Calderesque wire dragons, a lavish décor intended to last only about two weeks. As in the fashion world, such efforts require both a quick turnaround and six months’ lead time: “By July, you know what Christmas is going to look like,” she says, “It’s been so rehearsed and polished that by the time clients arrive, it runs like a ballet—all they need do is sit back and enjoy.” Increasingly, palaces are also reaching out to the youngest guests of all. At the Plaza Athénée, a courtyard ice-skating rink, holiday windows and a Barbie suite have been immensely popular. The Bristol has opened a day-care center adjacent to the hotel’s new spa, and a children’s concierge service is in the works. The George V is collaborating with illustrator Nicole Imbert, creator of the popular comic strip Les Triplés, to create a new program for kids, and the Ritz offers cooking classes for children and features organic baby food on its room-service menu. And the Meurice, which welcomes 3,000 young guests each year, offers everything from carousel rides to treasure hunts and pint-sized bathrobes; the hotel even hosts an annual spring Carnival with the Stanlowa school of dance. Whatever a palace guest’s age, the sky is the limit when it comes to satisfying their every desire. “We had a client who wanted a fresh fig in the middle of spring,” recalls Omer Acar, general manager of the Royal Monceau. “We ended up calling someone we knew in New Zealand in the middle of the night so he could put one on the next plane and we’d have it within 24 hours. As long as the request is ethical, legal and moral, nothing is too much to ask.” Drawing that line is not always easy; Dalí once asked the Meurice to bring a flock of sheep to his room. They obliged. Now more than ever, palaces are in the business of dream fulfillment, whether through gastronomy, art or fashion. “We don’t simply provide luxurious lodging,” says Acar, “we create an emotional experience.” Indeed, so much is happening within the new palace walls these days that making it out the door into the city beyond is practically a footnote to a Paris vacation. FRANCE • SPRING 2012
P Listers T he
AMONG PARIS HOTELS, there are palaces and then there are Palaces. Six institutions are historically considered palaces, several newcomers claim the distinction, yet only five have the right to brandish the newly minted, capital-P ranking now awarded by the Ministry of Tourism. Despite the palace intrigue, there is no doubt as to which are the cityâ€™s top luxe lodgings. Tina Isaac profiles them all on the following pages, revealing the delightfully distinct personality, style and charm of each prestigious address.
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Suites feature sumptuous fabrics and upholstery by Charles Jouffre.
COUP DE COEUR
The ravishing 18th-century décor adds a regal note to dining at the Meurice.
BEFITTING A HOTEL whose logo features a crown and two sleek greyhounds, the Meurice oozes royal pedigree. The oldest of Paris’s palace hotels, it opened at its current location in 1835 as a relaishôtel for well-heeled British travelers, welcoming the first of what would become a very long parade of privileged and influential guests. Yet what is perhaps most appealing about this establishment is that, for all its 18th-century splendor, it conveys a quiet power. Like all palaces, the Meurice has long balanced the dual imperatives of preserving its legendary cachet
while constantly introducing the kind of innovative amenities and services that maintain its rank as an industry leader. A decade ago, the paint had barely dried on a two-year, top-to-bottom renovation when the hotel set its sights on a new objective: recruiting a chef whose talents would be a match for its opulent dining room, considered one of the most beautiful in France. Award-winning chef Yannick Alléno stepped up to the plate and did not disappoint, racking up three Michelin stars in astonishingly short order. He then went on to incorporate the surprisingly affordable (for a palace) Terroir Parisien lunch menu ahead of the locavore curve and to launch a gourmet magazine, YAM, based on his repertoire. Next up: the unveiling this
Philippe Starck’s “ice painting.” A large gilded frame propped up against a wall in the entrance looks at first glance to contain an abstract work of art made of white sand. It is actually an “ice canvas,” with guests invited to trace whatever they like on the frozen surface. Every two hours, the collective chef d’oeuvre is melted down and a new creation begins. ARTFUL TOUCH Now in its fifth year, the Prix Meurice is a €20,000 annual prize created to help boost international recognition for young French artists and the galleries that represent them, as well as to build an in-house collection. Winners are announced in October, and works by the six finalists are displayed for two weeks. KID STUFF Located across from the Tuileries gardens—arguably the world’s poshest playground—the Meurice welcomes some 3,000 children every year, offering everything from diminutive bathrobes and slippers to wooden sailboats, carousel rides, museum visits and treasure hunts.
summer of the Table d’Yquem, a private dining room in the heart of Alléno’s kitchen, with a menu conceived in harmony with wines from the legendary Château d’Yquem and Château Cheval Blanc. Under the ministrations of celeb designer Philippe Starck, the pretty and proper Winter Garden has become a witty, mismatched homage to one of the hotel’s most famous guests, Salvador Dalí. More recently, the hotel asked haute upholsterer Charles Jouffre to refresh guest rooms, partnered with the prestigious Swiss beauty brand Valmont and recruited the services of hair-color wizard Christophe Robin—the go-to guy for Catherine Deneuve and every other redcarpet-worthy actress who alights in Paris. lemeurice.com
Yannick Alléno, the chef who made the Meurice a three-star destination. FRANCE • SPRING 2012
T HE MOST LEGENDARY of the Paris palaces—and perhaps the most famous hotel in the world —has long since passed into the vernacular: “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “ritzy” and The Diamond as Big as the Ritz were all inspired by this extraordinary address. Built behind Jules HardouinMansart’s 18th-century façade on the western side of the Place Vendôme, the Ritz has always boasted a rich mix of Louis XIV, XV, XVI, Directoire and Empire furnishings inspired by Versailles and Fontainebleau, with regal tapestries gracing the walls and priceless antiques in many suites. César Ritz once claimed that
ONLY AT THE RITZ
An outdoor putting green and a suite classified as a national historic monument (the bed is identical to the one at Versailles that belonged to Marie Antoinette). PERSONNEL ASSETS
The Ritz has carefully preserved the Coco Chanel suite, where the couturière lived for 37 years.
Charismatic bartender Colin Field, who for nearly two decades has presided over the Hemingway Bar, maintains a vibe in keeping with the writer’s largerthan-life persona. The signature house cocktail is the Calvadosand-Champagne Serendipity, a.k.a. “France in a glass.” WHILE YOU WAIT
Over the years, the Hemingway Bar has earned a devoted international following.
The hotel’s famous Mansart façade on the Place Vendôme. 54
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guests “could follow a course in the history of French furnishings without ever leaving their floor in the hotel.” But his real genius lay in opting for modernity: The Ritz was the first hotel in the world to offer his-and-her bathrooms, silent wall-mounted clocks and phones in every room. It remains famous for signature details such as goldplated swan-shaped faucets and pioneering complexion-flattering color schemes adapted to each room’s light exposure. Other renowned Ritz touches include the peach-tone bath linens and pink silk-lined lampshades. Considered the father of modern cuisine, Ritz co-founder Auguste Escoffier became famous for dishes such as Pêche Melba, Poire Belle Hélène and Crêpes Suzette, a dessert made with the Prince of
Wales’s favorite liqueur, Grand Marnier. Today the tradition lives on under the direction of Michel Roth, one of the rare chefs to have earned two Michelin stars and a Bocuse d’Or as well as the coveted Meilleur Ouvrier de France distinction. In addition to overseeing the elegant L’Espadon restaurant and bar, Roth heads up the Ecole Ritz Escoffier, an extensive program of cooking instruction with classes ranging from 19-week sessions for professionals to “Ritz Kids” workshops for sixto 11-year-olds. For the first time since its founding in 1898, the legendary hotel will close this July for a 27-month overhaul. When it reopens, the new Ritz could very well revolutionize the palace scene anew. ritzparis.com
A new house CD (“The Ritz Bar Paris Session One,” €29) and two delicious reads: Ritz Paris Haute Cuisine, Recipes by Michel Roth (Flammarion, €55) and The Ritz Paris: Mixing Drinks, A Simple Story (Editions de la Martinière, €25). ritzparisboutique.com
The Jardin d’Hiver is an inviting setting for enjoying cocktails or tea.
COUPS DE COEUR
An artful stone crab dish prepared by chef Christopher Hache.
BY VIRTUE OF ITS LOCATION on the Place de la Concorde, the Hôtel de Crillon is perhaps the most emblematic of Paris palaces; the fact that it is the only one to have been built by a king further adds to its luster. In 1758, King Louis XV entrusted the greatest architect of the day, Ange-Jacques Gabriel, with building two side-by-side edifices on what was then the new square bearing the king’s name. One of these masterpieces of 18th-century
The three magnificent salons classified as historic monuments, including the Salon Marie Antoinette, where the queen is thought to have taken music lessons. Its exquisite 18th-century Flemish tapestry, “The Singing Lesson,” supports this theory. BRAGGING RIGHTS
In 2011, the hotel came in first in France in Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Awards Service.” ONLY AT THE CRILLON For the past
five years, the Crillon and Vogue Magazine have set up the Vogue Bar in the hotel during fashion week. Look for magazine covers adorning menus, cocktails named after fashion icons and flat-screen TVs broadcasting runway shows.
The Salon des Batailles features ornate Louis XV wood paneling and a view of the Place de la Concorde.
French architecture was later bought by the Duc d’Aumont, and in 1770 served as the backdrop for the marriage of the future Louis XVI; in 1778, Benjamin Franklin was among those present here to sign the French-American alliance recognizing the independence of the original 13 American colonies. The Comte de Crillon purchased the property later that year. In 1907, it came into the hands of the Société des Grands Magasins et des Hôtels du Louvre, which annexed two adjacent buildings and reopened the ensemble as a hotel. Its guest roster reads like a Who’s Who of royalty, statesmen and industry, with crowned heads and heads of state such as King George V, Sir Winston Churchill and Emperor Hirohito; U.S. presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon; and business titans Andrew Carnegie and Malcolm Forbes. Each guest room has a unique décor and may be connected to the
one next to it, making it possible for a single party to enjoy an entire floor in complete privacy. Among the most famous rooms: the Leonard Bernstein suite, with its enormous terrace offering sweeping views of the Place de la Concorde, the Eiffel Tower and the entire Left Bank; the first-floor salons, decorated with Aubusson tapestries and parquet designs reserved for royalty; and the Comte de Crillon suite, with its breathtaking wood paneling. The Crillon has changed hands repeatedly in recent decades, which likely explains why major renovations have long been rumored but have not yet come to pass. Speculation intensified recently when its historic façade underwent a major cleaning, then in late March, it was officially announced that this fall, the palace will close for two years for a refresh—which will include the addition of the spa that management has wanted for so long. crillon.com FRANCE • SPRING 2012
The Galerie des Gobelins, a mecca for the fashion-forward crowd.
ONLY AT THE PLAZA ATHÉNÉE Designer
One of four bedrooms in the 4,840-square-foot Suite Royale, a veritable Parisian apartment.
The Plaza Athénée
T HE PLAZA ATHÉNÉE
25 avenue Montaigne in 1913; just
down the street, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées was inaugurated that same year. Showbiz types soon made the hotel’s Galerie des Gobelins and Relais Plaza restaurant their own. Mata Hari was famously arrested here, and other regulars over the years have included Josephine Baker, Rudolph Valentino, Maurice Chevalier, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich, who owned an apartment up the street. To this day, walking the Gobelins gallery is like taking to a catwalk. By the Années Folles, the avenue 56
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had become the epicenter for grand balls and trendsetters; logically enough, fashion designers set up shop here, starting with Madeleine Vionnet. Christian Dior was so taken with the elegant salons of the Plaza Athénée and the beautiful creatures who flocked there that in 1946 he opened his first boutique across the street. His 1947 “Bar” jacket was a nod to the palace, he launched Miss Dior perfume in its salons and used its façade as a backdrop for photos of his New Look. Over the decades, the hotel’s quintessentially Parisian décor has remained faithful to the classics (Louis XV, Louis XVI and the Regency periods), and the star-studded fashion connection
Patrick Jouin’s illuminated bar and creative head barman Thierry Hernandez (piña colada sushi, anyone?) make this one of the hippest nightspots in Paris. The new tablet-based menu offers clients the chance to play a virtual slot machine—and win a cocktail. KID STUFF Of all the palaces, the Plaza Athénée has the most extensive program for children (known as VICs), ranging from specially made teddy bear cookies to a Barbie suite, a children’s menu by Alain Ducasse and an ice rink in the courtyard from December through February.
The elegant Dior spa, the only one of its kind.
A private boat ride on the Seine with captain, host, Champagne and sweets prepared by Christophe Michalak.
has remained intact: In 2004, the last installments of the hit television series “Sex & the City” were filmed here, and in 2008, the Dior Institut, the brand’s only spa in the world, opened on the premises. But the Plaza Athénée has more than one string to its bow: It is also home to the thrice three-starred chef Alain Ducasse, who recently revamped the hotel’s gastronomic restaurant to reflect simpler, more contemporary locavore fare, and to the world’s reigning pastry champion, Christophe Michalak. plaza-athenee-paris.com
T HE BRISTOL’S HISTORY dates back to the 18th century, when a private home was built at this location. One of the owners was the Count de Castellane, a patron of the arts known for spectacular parties and an over-the-top lifestyle. In 1923, the property was purchased by the Jammet family, and in 1925 it opened as a hotel. The name Bristol was borrowed from the English Count of Bristol, another grand traveler and eccentric known to appreciate the finer things in life. With the onset of World War II, the Bristol was requisitioned as
a residence for Americans in Paris; the Jammets were said to have protected certain clients including a Jewish architect named Lerman, who resided here while supervising the hotel’s refurbishment. Records of his stay conveniently vanished from the concierge’s registry. In 1979 the Oetker family—owners of the Hôtel du Cap Eden Roc in Antibes, among others—bought the property. Under their stewardship, it has been continually redecorated and expanded; this year it will wrap up three years of renovations totaling some €100 million. In September 2009, the hotel acquired the adjacent bank and transformed it into what is now called the Matignon wing, adding 26 rooms and suites to its 161 existing bedrooms, as well as a new restaurant, Le 114 Faubourg.
Three-star chef Eric Frechon, whose delicious and often visually astonishing signature dishes include a stuffed macaroni au gratin with black truffle, artichoke and duck foie gras, a favorite of many regulars including President Sarkozy. COUPS DE COEUR
Fa-raon, the Burmese house mascot, a hit with staff and guests alike; the lovely French garden, where you can dine in fine weather. ONLY AT THE BRISTOL A house
scent designed by Patou parfumeur Jean-Michel Duriez; a yacht-inspired pool with panoramic views of Paris; and a “Secrets de Concierges” blog (lebristolparisconcierges. blogspot.com).
The rooftop pool with its teak deck, designed by the architect of Onassis’s yacht.
Above: Fa-raon, the hotel’s beloved mascot, and a sunny suite in the new Matignon wing.
Eric Frechon, the three-star chef who raised the Bristol to the summit of fine French dining.
Last year, a three-level La Prairie spa opened, offering innovative amenities and treatments such as the purifying vodka massage in the Russian Room (which has a private hammam and a heated marble table). It’s a stunning destination-within-a-destination. New penthouse suites were also added, and the luminous Epicure restaurant headed by three-star chef Eric Frechon replaced the previous summer and winter dining areas. Later this year, a cozy club-style bar will complete the picture. Clients who gravitate to the Bristol clearly appreciate the finer things in life, but what keeps them coming back from one generation to the next seems to be precisely a clubby, family-style atmosphere. “We want to cultivate the French spirit, but we’re also a family hotel; it’s important to just let people be,” notes general manager Didier Le Calvez. “When they’ve been coming here for 40 years, they tend to look at the place like a club. And we try to ensure that new clients feel right at home too.” Not least among them: Woody Allen, who filmed portions of Midnight in Paris in the hotel. lebristolparis.com FRANCE • SPRING 2012
The Four Seasons Hotel George V
SINCE REOPENING in 1999 as a Four Seasons property, the George V has consistently been at the top of the industry’s most prestigious “best of” lists. While there are features that stand out, its across-theboard excellence is what makes it a perennial favorite. The décor inside this historic Art Deco hotel hews to traditional codes—classical Louis XVI and Napoleon I furnishings, 17thcentury Flemish tapestries, 18thcentury Florentine chandeliers. But the public spaces are so open and airy, the floral arrangements by creative director Jeff Leatham so resplendent and commanding, the guest rooms so generously sized that there is never an impression of fussiness or clutter. And while all luxury establishments deliver topdrawer service, there is something unique about the Four Seasons style: Kindness, personalization pushed to the extreme and a serious yet light-hearted approach to
Stunning floral arrangements keep the George V in full bloom. 58
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Luminous and airy, rooms at the George V are known for their generous proportions.
Award-winning sommelier Eric Beaumard (also restaurant director), who occasionally conducts tastings in the 45,000-bottle cellar that he has built from scratch during the past 15 years. And head barman Maxime Hoerth, who recently won the first Meilleur Ouvrier de France competition for bartenders with his vodka-based summer cocktail “Good Night and Good Luck.” COUP DE COEUR
The spa offers treatments that are as luxurious as its Versailles-inspired décor.
French hospitality are the result of a nearly scientific approach that somehow always hits the sweet spot between friendly and formal. The two-star Le Cinq restaurant is another draw, providing one of the loveliest dining experiences in Paris. A protégé of Joël Robuchon, Eric Briffard creates light, fresh takes on classic French cuisine, often with an Asian inflection. Together with the considerate service and elegant atmosphere, this is the kind of unself-consciously pleasurable dining that memories are made of. Year after year, the spa too delivers the kind of expert pampering that keeps clients coming back and critics searching for superlatives—
among other awards, it has been on Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Spas list for the past four years. A recently added indulgence is the Balinese-inspired Tropical Magnolia massage and wrap for body and feet created especially for the hotel spa by Sodashi. The Australian brand uses only natural ingredients, and the treatment is designed to rev up the whole metabolism—an ideal antidote for jetlag. This May, the George V will unveil its new penthouse suite, formerly known as the honeymoon suite, on the eighth floor. With three terraces landscaped by Jeff Leatham and a private entrance, it promises romance in spades. fourseasons.com/paris/anew
Again and again and again, it’s those amazing flowers. After more than a decade, Jeff Leatham still manages to surprise and delight guests with his extraordinary arrangements— installations, really— such as the 300 Vanda orchids he suspended over the courtyard this past summer. ONLY AT THE GEORGE V A Hermès-
inspired hand-built RollsRoyce Phantom to take guests around town or to the airport.
Imposing architecture adds drama to dining at Le Pur’.
COUP DE COEUR
One-star chef JeanFrançois Roquette and pastry chef Pier-Marie Le Moigno revisit the traditional children’s goûter for guests of all ages. Look for apple tarts, rice pudding, brioche and assorted seasonal inspirations. Served from 3 P.M. to 6 P.M. daily; €50 for two.
This 900-square-foot salon is part of the Suite Impériale, which also boasts its own spa.
The Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme
WHEN IT OPENED in 2002, the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, located on rue de la Paix, was the first palace-caliber hotel to début in Paris in nearly a century. Not surprisingly, of the five Paris hotels to have earned the new “Palace” rating, this one is the most modern. History takes a backseat here to a very 21st-century aesthetic— indeed, the 200 pieces of contemporary art on display throughout the hotel served as the inspiration
The entrance on the storied rue de la Paix.
for the décor, and not the other way around. Paris-based American architect Ed Tuttle gave the hotel’s 158 rooms and suites a modern spin on Paris classicism, using tones of ecru, beige, chocolate and mahogany, with custom-made furniture that draws on French styles from Louis XVI to Art Deco. His Japaneseinspired bathrooms can open up onto the rooms or remain partitioned off. Compared with its gilt-andcrystal-chandeliered peers, the Park Hyatt’s common areas are a study in deliberate understatement,
Peripatetic haute coiffeur John Nollet offers a “Hair Room Service” in suite 101, an intimate and very private space decorated with memorabilia from his travels. KID STUFF Guests staying in a premium suite may request to have their children’s quarters done up in Tartine & Chocolat furniture at no extra charge.
with geometric forms and wideopen spaces, the better to showcase the hotel’s art collection. American-born Paris gallery owner Darthea Speyer helped assemble these works, which include series by American painters Ed Paschke (in the bar), Roy de Forest, Llyn Foulkes and Sam Gilliam (collages on Japanese paper in the suites) and sculptor Roseline Granet (light appliqués and door handles). A favorite with the business crowd, whether staying overnight or not, the hotel also draws a number of VIPs who appreciate its discreet private entrance. As part of the hotel’s 10th anniversary celebrations, the spa will expand its repertoire; in the meantime this is (and will remain) the go-to address for Martine de Richeville’s cult silhouette-refining massage. paris.vendome.hyatt.com FRANCE • SPRING 2012
Jacques Garcia’s whimsical take on a Louis XV sofa.
A century on, Fouquet’s restaurant remains a favorite with film directors and stars.
the Groupe Lucien Barrière became the new owners of Fouquet’s, the famous 113-yearold brasserie/restaurant on the Champs-Elysées long frequented by the show-biz crowd. Plaques indicate tables favored by icons such as Edith Piaf, Jean Gabin, François Truffaut and Charles Aznavour, and the César nominees luncheon and after-awards dinner are still held here each year. The company went on to take over a good chunk of the city block with the idea of building a luxury hotel. Faced with the challenge of giving the five adjacent buildings composing Fouquet’s a unified look, architect Edouard François came up with a highly original solution: He used the registered Haussmann façades facing the Champs-Elysées as his inspiration, creating an exact copy out of concrete to replace the 1970s brown glass front of one of the buildings. Openings were cut out wherever the hotel needed windows, creating an effect that is at once startling and amusing—as much contemporary art as architecture. In Jacques Garcia’s hands, the 60
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ONLY AT FOUQUET’S
Butler service for all room categories at no extra charge. COUP DE COEUR
The spa’s wide offering of facials and body treatments featuring the luxe Japanese brand Sensai by Kanebo and the cult phyto-aromatic brand Cinq Mondes. PERSONNEL ASSETS
Two Meilleur Ouvriers de France: Chef Jean-Yves Leuranguer, who oversees two restaurants and the bar and café menus, and bartender Stéphane Ginouvès.
Water jets massage swimmers in the spa pool.
opulent “modern baroque” interior is equally clever and playful. As you enter the lobby, you hear the tinkling harp sounds that typically signal the transformation of a scullery maid into a princess; the sinewy front desk is paved with what look to be crystals dismantled from a gargantuan chandelier; and the tongue-in-cheek sofa can only be called Louis XV on steroids. Although a relatively recent
Great views and a private terrace add romance to the duplex suite.
arrival (it opened in 2006), Fouquet’s mystique dates back a century, to the time when François André launched the concept of luxury resorts and casinos in La Baule, Le Touquet, Deauville and Cannes. His nephew and designated heir, Lucien Barrière, consolidated the empire, and Barrière’s beautiful and very glamorous daughter Diane steered the acquisition of Fouquet’s in 1998, before her premature death in 2001. Her widower, Dominique Desseigne, has run the family business ever since, making Fouquet’s a tribute to his late wife and a legacy for their children. The hotel’s 81 sizeable rooms and suites offer enviable views, and its vast fifth-floor terrace/lounge is stunning: Though it’s right off one of the world’s busiest thoroughfares, sitting up here one could swear one had Paris to oneself. From the beginning, Fouquet’s has looked at the world through green-colored glasses, and in 2010 made lodging history when it became the first “Leading Green” hotel in Europe; it is one of only six hotels to have earned this prestigious title. fouquets-barriere.com
The Royal Monceau
THE DÉBUT OF the renegade Royal Monceau Raffles marked the beginning of a new era on the Paris hotel scene. Following the oft-reported, pre-financial-crisis blowout party, the hotel reopened in October 2010 to quieter times yet successfully updated the palace concept. “We took traditional pampering and put it into today’s language,” notes general manager Omer Acar. “For us, it’s important that a palace preserve the values of French art de vivre. A hotel’s soul comes from history, but it needs to strike a good balance
between past, present and future.” The hotel’s past is reflected in its architecture, a semicircular Art Deco building dating from 1928. But the rest of the place is very much about the here and now. Philippe Starck set out to upend traditional notions of palace décor with design details plucked from his personal lexicon of Alice-inWonderland whimsy: Empire chairs recast as nightstands, handwritten inscriptions on lampshades, industrial suspension lamps six feet in diameter set over dining tables, a giant wrought-iron teapot in the garden…. Establishing a unique identity and courting a particular clientele is nothing new, but no hotel has pursued these goals as wholeheartedly as the Royal Monceau. It’s the only palace with a dedicated “art concierge” who will arrange
ONLY AT THE ROYAL MONCEAU A 99-seat
theater equipped with all the latest cinematic technologies. Forget the popcorn: Guests are served Champagne and movie-house treats re-invented by Pierre Hermé. COUP DE COEUR
The special edition Royal Monceau guitar in every guestroom. BRAGGING RIGHTS
The hotel’s Italian restaurant, Il Carpaccio, was named Best Foreign Restaurant in the French Capital by Guide Pudlo Paris 2011.
The Royal Monceau has set out to be the address for the international art set.
Cigar aficionados may repair to the “Fumée Rouge” lounge.
Top: La Cuisine delights with an open kitchen, ceiling artwork and chandeliers. Above: Gourmet treats by super-pâtissier Pierre Hermé await guests in the private movie theater.
custom-designed visits to museums, galleries and other destinations. It also boasts an art bookstore and large screens that allow guests to follow international auctions and bid from the hotel. It even has its own art gallery (there are four exhibitions annually) and displays its own collection of contemporary photographs throughout the common areas and guestrooms. The Royal Monceau further pushed the palace envelope with an outpost of the leading fashion boutique L’Eclaireur, a Clarins My Blend spa offering custom facials, a fitness area so sleek it too could be an art gallery and a narrow 28-meter pool, said to be the longest in Paris. Five presidential suites, some with their own fitness room, are accessible through a private entrance at 41 avenue Hoche; a private elevator connects them with the spa. “The element of surprise is key,” says Acar. “Luxury today is all about unexpected pleasures. The day you think you’ve made it is the day you lose your edge.” raffles.com/paris/ FRANCE • SPRING 2012
T HIS STRIKING hôtel particulier was home to Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew Prince Roland Bonaparte, who commissioned the building and lived here from 1896 until his death in 1924. Later, it was carved into luxury apartments (actress, decorator and society fixture Elsie de Wolfe lived here in the 1930s) then downgraded into a government building (the French Center of Foreign Trade). Its current owners spent four years lovingly restoring it to its former glory. The Suite Impériale—composed of Bonaparte’s private apartments— is a registered historic landmark
ONLY AT THE SHANGRI-LA
Jasmine Chung Hao tea, considered one of China’s finest jasmine teas, is served to welcome guests upon their arrival. The restaurant La Bauhinia also offers special traditional Japanese and Chinese tea ceremonies. PERSONNEL ASSETS
A pool of light floods the magnificently restored space that is now the Bauhinia restaurant. An elegant appetizer prepared for guests at the two-star L’Abeille.
Shangri-La’s handsome bar combines Second Empire style and creative cocktails. 62
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and the largest suite in the building. Decorator Pierre-Yves Rochon sprinkled all 81 rooms and suites with Directoire and Empire furnishings along with Asian influences and pieces of his own design, the idea being to make each feel like a Parisian apartment. While renovating, workers came across an Eiffel-inspired glass dome dating from 1929; rescued from obscurity, it now crowns La Bauhinia, the hotel’s “everyday” eatery. The other two dining areas are L’Abeille, showcasing contemporary renditions of French classics, and Shang Palace, offering Cantonese fare. Earlier this year, L’Abeille received two Michelin stars and Shang Palace one, making the Shangri-La the only hotel in France to boast two starred restaurants.
Half of the rooms and suites offer a view of the Eiffel Tower, and nearly half have a private balcony or terrace. But even if you are not a guest, it is well worth the detour to take tea in the front salons or admire the grand staircase and first-floor reception rooms, where Marie Bonaparte celebrated her 17th birthday in 1899. Other attractions: La Bauhinia’s East-meetsWest brunch—practically a mini-vacation—and the cosseted bar, where fresh and exotic Asian notes make for memorable libations. This October, a pool and spa will open in what were once the stables, and a new west wing featuring 20 rooms and suites is slated to open next summer. shangri-la.com
Artistic director Maud Lesur, who oversees a constantly revolving décor—color schemes, flowers and crystal services change regularly, with some pieces specially commissioned for the hotel. She drew inspiration for this spring’s “Green Chic” theme from Roland Bonaparte’s herb garden. COUP DE COEUR
Head pâtissier François Perret creates a halfdozen new cupcakes each season. A winter favorite was Caramel and Black Sesame; this spring, look for versions of French classics such as soufflé au chocolat and baba au rhum.
Light-filled, sleek and spacious, this suite is a glorious home-away-from-home.
ONLY AT THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL
A spa with treatment rooms big enough to rival standard Paris hotel rooms and a focus on Oriental well-being; entering this serene space is like stepping into another dimension.
The daring design at Sur Mesure signals a new era in palace dining.
COUP DE COEUR
Complimentary tea in guestrooms is the kind of personal touch travelers remember.
The Mandarin Oriental
L OCATED STEPS AWAY from the Place Vendôme and the Tuileries, the newest of the palace-caliber hotels (for now) makes a point of playing up its haute-couture inspiration. To wit: the late, great embroiderer François Lesage created the hotel’s signature fan. When the Mandarin Oriental group acquired the building, they discovered that only its 1930s façade was a registered historic landmark,
The Thirties-meets-Mod décor and Lalique crystals in Bar 8: enchanting when the light catches them just so. PERSONNEL ASSETS
Executive chef and “Top Chef” judge Thierry Marx, whose creations for the gastronomic restaurant Sur Mesure seem to be one thing, yet surprise with their otherness: An astonishing soybean risotto tastes like the real thing, and the chocolate cake is not actually baked. Less than a year after opening, Michelin awarded Sur Mesure two stars.
which gave the company free rein to transform what was once an office building into the grand hotel they envisaged. The result is a contemporary Parisian palace with Art Deco references and sophisticated Asian accents. Only steps from the entrance but seemingly a world away from the city is a large landscaped courtyard fitted with sleek white banquettes and planted with camellias and magnolias. Toward the back of the garden, a table for six, informally known as “the bird cage,” allows clients of the less formal Camélia restaurant to dine outside in fine weather. Flanking the east side of the garden is the Champagnecentric Bar 8 (eight being a lucky number in Chinese culture) with Lalique crystal droplets scattered across the walls and a customdesigned bar by Patrick Jouin hewn from a single nine-ton block of marble. Tucked away behind it is Sur Mesure, the gastronomic
restaurant run by executive chef (and TV celebrity) Thierry Marx. Upstairs, 138 rooms and suites are among the most spacious in town, featuring décor by Sybille de Margerie, who subtly riffs on celebrated motifs such as Rodin’s “The Kiss” and works by Man Ray to give rooms a contemporary chic vibe. The suites feature works by photographer Ali Mahdavi. The designer also created one of the prettiest and most welcoming spas in the capital, with origami-style butterfly walls and a motion-sensor gong that greets visitors. Service-oriented flourishes such as fast-tracking customs formalities at the airport and complimentary Mariage Frères teas and espresso machines in rooms are so many reminders that the philosophy here is less about grandiosity than earning a place in clients’ hearts through small, personalized gestures. f mandarinoriental.com/paris/ FRANCE • SPRING 2012
Calendrier French Cultural Events in North America
collection of Roger Vivier footwear— • Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum presents a soleful the first show of its kind in North America.
Perhaps not surprisingly for someone who started out studying sculpture, shoe designer Roger Vivier (1907-1998) is often credited with inventing the modern stiletto heel, or talon aiguille, at Dior in the early 1950s. It seems somehow incongruous that he also designed the sandals worn by Elizabeth II for her coronation; made of garnet-studded gold kid leather, they were fitted with a hidden platform. His many other contributions to foot fashion include the thighhigh boots favored by Brigitte Bardot and the chrome-buckled, square-toed Yves Saint Laurent pumps sported by Catherine Deneuve in Luis Buñuel’s 1967 film Belle de Jour, a much-copied style now emblematic of the Vivier name. This spring, Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum presents R oger V ivier : P rocess to P erfection , the first North American exhibition of its kind, which will feature 50 items at any one time, with new pieces rotated in throughout the year. May 9 through April 7, 2013; batashoemuseum.ca.
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EXHIBITS Seattle GAUGUIN AND POLYNESIA
Gauguin and Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise delves into the artist’s engagement with the arts and culture of the South Sea Islands—first Tahiti and later the Marquesas, his final resting place. Some 60 examples of Polynesian art join an equal number of paintings, sculptures and works on paper by Gauguin, offering insight into the master’s creative development as well as a more general perspective on the exchanges between Pacific Island and European cultures in the 19th century. Through April 29 at the Seattle Art Museum; seattleartmuseum.org.
Springfield, MA, and Cincinnati
© R I C H A R D S T O N E R 2 0 0 6 / C A R N E G I E M U S E U M O F A R T, P I T T S B U R G H ; © A . G U I R K I N G E R / F O N D AT I O N P I E R R E B E R G É -Y V E S S A I N T L A U R E N T, PA R I S
OLD MASTERS TO MONET
Old Masters to Monet: Three Centuries of French Painting from the Wadsworth Atheneum presents 50 masterworks from the country’s oldest public art museum, founded in 1842. Spanning the 17th to the early 20th centuries, with all major genres represented, the show surveys the evolution not only of French painting but also of French society as a whole under the effects of the Revolution and industrialization. Through April 29 at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, springfieldmuseums.org, and May 18 through Sept. 16 at the Taft Museum of Art, taftmuseum.org.
Washington, DC, and Indianapolis SNAPSHOT
Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard reveals the impact of the Kodak handheld camera on the work of Post-Impressionist artists who embraced the new invention, first sold in 1888. Aiming their lenses at city streets, landscapes, family members and sometimes each other, these artists snapped a total of some 10,000 pictures, about 200 of which are on view. Some 70 paintings and prints show how the artists incorporated the new medium into their craft, be it by reinterpreting the snapshot in paint or by using photographs to explore foreshortening, cropping and other effects. Through May 6 at The Phillips Collection, phillipscollection.org, and June 8 through Sept. 2 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, imamuseum.org.
New York RENOIR
Through nine large-scale vertical canvases dating from the mid1870s to the mid-1880s, Renoir,
Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting examines the artist’s use of a format favored by the Salon and largely eschewed by his fellow Impressionists. Nearly life-size, the works showcase the artist’s virtuosity at rendering not only figures but also the sumptuous fashions of Belle Epoque Paris. Through May 13 at The Frick Collection; frick.org.
Nashville MATHILDE ROUSSEL
The site-specific show Mathilde Roussel: Anatomia Botanica reflects the Paris-based artist’s fascination with the life cycle and the perpetual change experienced by all organisms on Earth. The works displayed incorporate a variety of organic and inorganic materials; for example, human figures made from live wheat grass, recycled metal and fabric offer a commentary on the impact—both on our bodies and on the larger world— of the food we eat. Through May 13 at Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art; cheekwood.org.
New York REMBRANDT AND DEGAS
Degas spent much time during his formative years copying the Old Masters, both at the Louvre and in Italy. Despite his later association with Impressionism, he remained devoted to those early exemplars throughout his life. Rembrandt and Degas: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man explores the 17thcentury Dutch master’s influence on his 19th-century French admirer by uniting some 20 of their early self-portraits, both painted and graphic. Through May 20 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org.
Portland, ME DEGAS
Built around a collection of privately owned works on paper never before publicly displayed together, Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist presents intimate images of the artist’s family and friends along with such signature behindthe-scenes subjects as ballet dancers off stage and women in their boudoirs. Also included is a selection of pieces by
A black velvet haute-couture evening dress from Yves Saint Laurent’s 1983 FallWinter collection, appearing in Denver.
“Place des Lices” (1893) is one of the luminous works included in •theSignac’s Carnegie Museum’s “Impressionism in a New Light.” Cézanne, Cassatt and other contemporaries. Through May 28 at the Portland Museum of Art; portlandmuseum.org.
New York THE STEINS COLLECT
By buying ground-breaking works of art, befriending their creators and welcoming people into their homes to see and discuss them, Gertrude Stein and others in her family advanced Modernism both in their adopted city of Paris and abroad. Drawn from private and public holdings around the globe, The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde unites some 200 masterworks once owned by these influential art patrons, as well as family photographs, correspondence and other archival materials. Through June 3 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; metmuseum.org.
Chicago CLAUDE CAHUN
A forerunner of the contemporary artist Cindy Sherman, Surrealist Claude Cahun (born Lucy Schwob in 1894) delved into issues of gender and identity by photographing herself as both male and female personae. Little known before being rediscovered in the 1980s, her work is now the subject of the retrospective Entre Nous: The Art of Claude Cahun, which brings together some 80 images and writings by the artist and her longtime partner, Suzanne Malherbe (a.k.a. Marcel Moore). Through June 3 at the Art Institute of Chicago; artic.edu.
Fort Worth THE AGE OF IMPRESSIONISM
The Age of Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Clark show-
cases more than 70 19th-century masterworks from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. These include an array of 21 Renoirs reflecting the artist’s creative evolution from the 1870s to the 1890s, as well as selections by his fellow Impressionists Monet, Degas, Sisley and Pissarro. Rounding out the show are pieces by Bouguereau, Corot, Gérôme and other well-known artists who embraced different aesthetics. Through June 17 at the Kimbell Art Museum; kimbellart.org.
Denver YVES SAINT LAURENT
Yves Saint Laurent pioneered modern women’s wear with such designs as le smoking, a male garment transformed into a symbol of female empowerment. No fewer than 30 iterations of this signature piece appear in Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective, a multimedia exhibition spanning the late designer’s 40-year career, from his early creations for Dior in the 1950s to his final runway collection in 2002. Two hundred couture outfits illustrate themes ranging from his use of color and fondness for the exotic to his take on Mondrian and other artists. Through July 8 at the Denver Art Museum; denverartmuseum.org.
Washington, DC WOMEN ARTISTS FROM THE LOUVRE
Beyond being suspected of moral laxity, female artists in 18th-century France faced numerous practical challenges that forced them to exercise their talents outside mainstream avenues. They could not attend life drawing classes, and their membership in the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture F R A N C E • S PR I N G 2 012
Established for educational purposes by pharmaceuticals mogul Albert C. Barnes in 1922, the Barnes Collection boasts one of the world’s most extensive collections of Impressionist, PostImpressionist and early Modern paintings, including the single largest number of Renoirs (181). On May 19, the Barnes opens its new Philadelphia campus, which “ Washerwoman and Child” (1886) will replicate the permanent by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. galleries of its original home in the local suburb of Merion while increasing public access. The new building will house facilities for research, conservation and education, as well as a temporary exhibition space, whose inaugural show (through March 2013) will explore Barnes’s philosophy of displaying his collection in “ensembles” based on line, color and other formal principles rather than, say, chronology or style, thus revealing connections between different artistic traditions. Ten days of inaugural events will culminate with 60 hours of free, round-the-clock admission (May 26 through 28). barnesfoundation.org
meanwhile, sought to demonstrate that photography was more than mere documentation, manipulating the medium to achieve painterly effects. The show illustrates the fruits of this artistic interplay by juxtaposing works by Degas, Renoir and other Impressionists with those of such Pictorialists as Käsebier and Steichen. May 12 through Aug. 26 at the Carnegie Museum of Art; cmoa.org.
performing Ravel’s “Piano Concerto in G Major.” An evening titled “The Art and Music of Avant-Garde Paris” launches the opening of the Carnegie Museum of Art’s exhibition “Impressionism in a New Light” (see above) with a panel discussion and a performance of Debussy’s “Danse sacrée et danse profane.” April 27 through May 13 at various venues; pso.culturaldistrict.org.
VUILLARD AND HIS MUSES
CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS
Through some 50 works in assorted media, Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940 examines the many ways in which the master drew inspiration from his friends and patrons. The show spans his career, covering his artistic beginnings as a member of the avant-garde Nabi movement and the domestic interior scenes for which he is best known, his graphic art for the periodical La Revue blanche, his decorative commissions and his lesser-known later portraits. May 4 through Sept. 23 at The Jewish Museum; thejewishmuseum.org.
The National Symphony Orchestra welcomes young music-lovers and their parents for a matinée performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals. The event features children’s poet Jack Prelutsky narrating his own work, along with projected illustrations by Mary GrandPré, whose credits include the American covers of the Harry Potter books. May 13 at the Kennedy Center; kennedy-center.org.
PERFORMING ARTS Los Angeles FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL
was capped at four in 1783. Through 77 works, Royalists to Romantics: Women Artists from the Louvre, Versailles, and Other French National Collections explores how the Revolution, rise and fall of Napoleon and restoration of the monarchy each ushered in a new landscape to negotiate. While viewers might recognize some of the 35 names represented—notably Marie Antoinette’s favorites, Elisabeth VigéeLeBrun and Anne Vallayer-Coster— the majority will likely be discoveries. Through July 29 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts; nmwa.org.
San Francisco JEAN PAUL GAULTIER
Whether showcasing men’s skirts or sending plus-size models down the runway, Jean Paul Gaultier embraces an irreverent and fun-loving aesthetic that celebrates individuality. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk marks the 35th anniversary of his first prêt-àporter collection with a retrospective of his work. Emphasizing haute couture, the show presents 120 outfits, most never before exhibited. Complementary materials such as sketches, film clips and stage costumes highlight the designer’s fondness for collaborating with fellow artists as varied as Pedro Almodóvar, Maurice Béjart and of course
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Madonna. Through Aug. 19 at the de Young Museum; deyoung.famsf.org.
Toronto PICASSO’S PICASSOS
Closed for renovations until 2013, France’s Musée National Picasso in Paris is home to the world’s largest trove of the artist’s work; pieces from his personal collection form the core of its holdings. North American audiences now have an unprecedented opportunity to view some 150 of the museum’s most prized paintings, sculptures and works on paper. Covering eight decades, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris surveys the prolific and ever-innovative master’s career, with prime examples from every major period—Blue, Rose, Cubist and Surrealist, among others. May 1 through Aug. 26 at the Art Gallery of Ontario; ago.net.
The 16th annual City of Lights, City of Angels (COL•COA) festival screens dozens of the latest motion pictures from France, many in their U.S. premiere. The program combines shorts with features, box office hits with art house pictures and directorial debuts with new offerings from veteran filmmakers. April 16 through 23 at the Directors Guild Theater Complex; colcoa.org.
New York CINÉMATUESDAYS
The French Institute Alliance Française continues its CinémaTuesdays series in April with a retrospective of the films of Bernadette Lafont, who made her name appearing in such New Wave classics as Chabrol’s Le Beau Serge (1958). The actress will present Truffaut’s Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me (1972) in person on the 17th and will read a selection of the director’s letters to famous actors on the 18th. May and June will be dedicated to the films of Romy Schneider in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the actress’s death. At Florence Gould Hall and Tinker Auditorium; fiaf.org.
Chicago; Washington, DC; and New York
PARIS OPÉRA BALLET
The renowned Paris Opéra Ballet returns to the United States after an absence of more than a decade. The programs include Giselle, choreographed for the company by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot 170 years ago, as well as Serge Lifar’s Suite en blanc, Roland Petit’s L’Arlésienne and Maurice Béjart’s Boléro; the New York appearances (part of this year’s Lincoln Center Festival) will also feature Pina Bausch’s take on the Gluck opera Orpheus and Eurydice. June 27 through July 1 at the Harris Theater, harristheaterchicago. org; July 5 through 8 at the Kennedy Center, kennedy-center.org; and July 11 through 22 at the David H. Koch Theater, lincolncenterfestival.org.
Now in its 26th year, the Festival International de Louisiane honors southern Louisiana’s ties to la francophonie with scores of free concerts by artists from around the world as well as arts and crafts markets and Soirées du Cinéma. April 25 through 29 downtown; festivalinternational.com.
IMPRESSIONISM IN A NEW LIGHT
Comprising 150 works from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Impressionism in a New Light: From Monet to Stieglitz explores the influences behind the Impressionist movement, particularly photography. The new medium’s ability to reproduce reality absolved painters from attempting to do so while driving them to lend their creations an equally instantaneous quality. Pictorialists,
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Paris Festival celebrates the creative cross-pollination that occurred when artists from all different cultures and disciplines converged on the French capital in the early 20th century. One program combines Stravinsky’s “Pétrouchka” with Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”; another features the young French pianist Lise de La Salle
—Tracy Kendrick For a regularly updated listing of cultural events, go to francemagazine.org.
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A Little Night Music by MICHEL FAURE
On June 21, the shortest night of the year,
towns and villages in France are filled with music. Instruments in hand, people of all ages everywhere turn out for the annual Fête de la Musique, singing and dancing until the sun comes up. This year, that free, much-beloved grassroots festival marks its 30th birthday. And that’s something to celebrate, because during the Fête, our elegant, monumental French capital becomes a light-hearted, playful, magical place. For one enchanted evening, Parisians are not only friendly, they’re joyful. We owe this event to two remarkable men: Maurice Fleuret and Jack Lang. Fleuret, who died in 1990, was an eminent musicologist, an ardent champion of French contemporary music and a tireless advocate of music-making, which he valued above passive listening. He was named Director of Music and Dance at the Culture Ministry in 1981, the year Lang became Minister of Culture. François Mitterrand had just been elected president, and the motto of the day was Changer la vie. I’m not sure they really “changed life,” but thanks to those two visionaries, for at least one night a year it has never been quite the same. The pair had a hunch that the event would be a success: Statistics showed that five million people (nearly 10 percent of the population) played an instrument, and that one of every two young people did. Their idea was to get all those musicians into the street to play for others and make others want to play too. Fleuret came up with a catchy slogan, “Faîtes de la musique, Fête de la Musique”—and the rest is history. Each new edition serves up memorable moments: seniors doing the twist, young lovers lost in a slow waltz, marital disputes working themselves out in combative tangos…. Gathered around a small band on a corner you might see chic revelers, sweet old grand-mères, African funk rockers, pink-mohawked punks, black-clad Goths, paunchy rockabillies—in short, people just like you and me. What they all share is a sense of pleasure at being in Paris, suddenly a sensual, open, amenable city. Bars spill out onto the sidewalks, terraces overflow, even the police seem to be floating on a cloud. Smiling, tolerant, gallant, they walk in pairs like lovers, occasionally offering 70
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a few gentle words to calm some overexcited kid before he breaks something. I can just imagine a few of them going undercover, sporting pompadours and motorcycle jackets and strumming guitars in some of the hundreds—did I say hundreds? thousands!—of bands dotting the city. Music is everywhere, and no one even considers turning down the volume, because no one intends to sleep. The Fête de la Musique has grown considerably over the years, first spreading from Paris to towns throughout France (last year some 18,000 bands entertained 10 million spectators) and then on to more than 100 countries around the world. Music is everywhere: on squares, waterfronts and beaches, but also in prisons and hospitals. I’m positive that the festival’s popularity has motivated quite a few young people to become musicians, and each year, those who come out and play seem more and more talented. The festival is so inspiring that inevitably, as I make my way home in the wee hours of the morning amid strains of accordion music and the blare of brass bands, I resolve to take up the drums again. In high school, I had a snare drum and some cymbals, but my career as a percussionist was short-lived. Like so many kids, I dreamed of forming a band and becoming a rock star, with girls tearing at my shirt after concerts. Regretfully, that project fizzled out and all my buttons remained intact. Still, every June 21, I remember how much I loved steadily, tirelessly beating out rhythms on my drum set and promise myself to do it again. But resolutions made during the Fête de la Musique are like the ones you make on New Year’s Eve: You tend to forget about them. One of these days, though, I’ll track down my old buddies from back in the day. We’ll re-form a group, The Old Timer Blues Rock Band, and play dance tunes in Abbesses or Batignolles for our f adoring young groupies. Or more likely, for their moms. In North America, the festival is celebrated in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and Washington, DC; Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver; and Mexico City. For additional information, visit the Web sites of the local French consulates.
JO L AUTREDOU/CAROLINE MARÉCHAL
Sharing a commitment to community outreach and philanthropy in North America and France.
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
— Martin Luther King
Honoring MLK To celebrate Martin Luther King Day this year, Houston-area employees of AIR LIQUIDE participated in Houston Habitat for Humanity MLK Day of Service. Volunteers worked at nine Habitat for Humanity job sites, painting houses, clearing lots, building house frames, paving walkways, landscaping and performing other tasks. In this photo, Air Liquide volunteers spruce up a house’s peeling wood siding. Clockwise from top left: Maria Zapata, LaKiesha McKenzie, Jennifer Morgan, Vikki Olson and Maria Piña.
Cultivating Citizenship Every June, SOCIÉTÉ GÉNÉRALE holds its annual Citizen Commitment Week aimed at uniting employees worldwide around the bank’s citizenship approach. During the event, employees are invited to learn more about their local charities and the bank’s global partner, CARE International, and to participate in a variety of fundraising and volunteer activities. Right: Société Générale employees read to children as part of New York’s Pajama Program, which provides new PJs and books to children in need who live in foster care, group homes or shelters. As part of last year’s CCW, Société Générale collected 130 books and 110 pajamas and raised more than $1,000 for the organization.
France Magazine and the French-American Cultural Foundation thank the following businesses for their generous support.
for additional information on our sponsorship program and benefits, contact: marika rosen, director of sponsorship, tel. 202/944-6093 or e-mail email@example.com.
Édouard Manet (1832-1883), « Le déjeuner sur l’herbe » 1863, oil on canvas H. 208 ; W. 264,5 cm - « Le balcon », (1832-1883), oil on canvas, 1868-1869, H. 170 ; L. 124,5 cm. - Musée d’Orsay, Paris © Hervé Lewandowski, photo RMN
Natixis, leading patron of the Musée d’Orsay Exclusive sponsor of the Monet exhibit in 2010, Natixis also supported Musée d’Orsay in the renovation of the Impressionist Gallery, which reopened in 2011. Some 250 masterpieces by the greatest Impressionist painters – Monet, Degas, Manet, Cézanne, Renoir, Sisley and more – will benefit from this new setting, spread over more than 12,000 square feet of permanent display space. Natixis is the corporate, investment and financial services arm of Groupe BPCE, the second-largest banking player in France. With around 22,000 employees, Natixis specializes in three main business lines: Corporate and Investment Banking, Investment Solutions (asset management, insurance, private banking, private equity) and Specialized Financial Services. With local expertise in the US, Natixis’ Corporate and Investment Banking division tailors financing, investment and risk management solutions that match its clients’ needs.
Natixis Corporate & Investment Banking Americas Tel. 212.891.6100 — NatixisCIBAmericas@us.natixis.com
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