- Travel Healthy
- TEN OF…
- Contact Us
Posts tagged Europe
Any journey in France is dotted with castles, like so many reminders of its eventful past. Since they first appeared in the 10th century, over 10 000 castles have now been built in our country, from warrior fortresses to royal palaces through manor houses and aristocratic residences. The buildings described by the word “château” in French can take many architectural forms, as the term is above all a reflection of the owner’s social rank. The most beautiful gems of this exceptional heritage are open to visitors. Others, no less charming, host receptions and events, are run as hotels, or are simply home to men and women who love old buildings. Whether they are fairy-tale, grand or romantic in style, the castles still enchant visitors to this day.
Do you love top designer fashion, or are you hunting for a bargain or a trendsetter seeking out the latest styles? In Berlin, everyone gets their money’s worth. Those looking for exclusive designer pieces will find them in the pop-up shopping gallery in the Bikini-House at the Zoo. In spring 2013, a new shopping district will be opening at the Leipziger Platz. Special highlight: the largest food court in Europe. Bargain hunters are also flocking to the many outlet centres in the city.
By Jacqueline Swartz
Can-can at the Moulin Rouge, Toulouse-Lautrec’s absinthe drinkers and Renoir’s plump-armed women – Montmartre is synonymous with La Vie Boheme, a fin-de-siecle time when the arts burst open on the streets of Paris. Now there is a revitalized museum to showcase this Belle Epoque brilliance.
The Musee de Montmartre, housed in what was a l7th century monastery, was opened in l960 to display the art and preserve the traditions of the glory days of Montmartre. But it remained in the shadows and never made it as one of Paris’ major museums. This year it has gotten more than a facelift – it now has a future as a collection of historic buildings and gardens that will express the flavor of Montmartre through permanent and temporary exhibits, and liberate many pieces of art from storage.
Opened in September of this year, the temporary exhibit is themed around the Chat Noir Cabaret. From l891 it was a place of innovation and improvisation. Evenings were filled with stories and songs. Eric Satie was the house pianist, Debussy composed there. Someone would recite poetry or sing songs. There were various groups – one called itself the Incoherents,
The current exhibit includes over 200 paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints, posters and shadow-theatre cutouts, many never before displayed in France. Photographs make this magic time real. Through visual images and music, the exhibit captures the fin-se-siecle time that made Paris’ reputation as the center of the arts and bohemian life.
Before you enter the museum you come across gardens designed to reproduce those found in the paintings of Auguste Renoir. If you look up, you can see the studio of model-turned-artist Suzanne Valledon, who lived there with her artist son, Maurice Utrillo.
After entering the museum through the gardens, you come across a room with prints and drawings that evoke the Chat Noir cabaret. The second room contains photographs of the cabaret. There are illustrations for the Arts Incoherents and notebooks.
Other rooms show now-famous works like Toulouse-Lautrec’s The Ball at the Moulin Rouge and dreamy symbolist paintings. Not every artist’s name is known, but that’s part of the pleasure of discovery.
There’s a room dedicated to the circus, with prints drawings and posters showing the importance of the circus as a theme for artists of the time. Another room is devoted to the Café-concerts, with prints, posters, paintings and drawing showing popular entertainers such as Loie Fuller and La Belle Otero, one of the grandest courtesans of the time.
Montmartre was the backdrop, of course. It was a village until l860, with its own vineyards (several still exist); its summit is the highest point in what is now Paris. But all was not pastoral calm. In the Spring of 1871, the Paris Commune ruled. It called for separation of church and state, employee rights and equality for women. It was brutally put down, and thousands died. The famous Sacre Coeur Church, at the pinnacle of the mountain, was built, it is said, as a gesture of reconciliation. Began in 1875, it was not finished until l914.
A century later, in 2014, the project will be completed, with a building for permanent exhibits, one for temporary exhibits and a cafe. The heritage of this former village will be preserved, and along with Montmartre’s connections to the artists inspired by it.
The museum, at 10 rue Cortot, is open every day from 10am to 6pm. It is accessible through the Metro stop, Lamarck-Caulaincourt, Line 12. Or you can take Autobus 80 and then the funicular. The phone is 01 49 25 89 39, email email@example.com.
The theme of Paris’ Hotel Montmartre Mon Amour, is love – or rather passion, expressed by celebrated French writers, singers and actors caught in the tumultuous grip of extreme feelings. But this isn’t some cheesy hotel with afternoon bookings – it’s a four star boutique hotel, re-opened in the spring of 2012. It has been redone with the sheen of modern amenities, the background of literary tradition and the chic ambiance that comes from artfully created decor.
Sandrine Alouf, the designer, has created an ode to passion, artistically expressed through brilliant color, lighting, photos and print. She calls herself an “atmospheriste”, which seems to describe the spell she casts. The hotel’s atmosphere begins on the street, for it is perched on a hill below the famed Sacre Coeur Church, in the fabled district of Montmartre. Until l860, Montmartre was to be a village with its own vineyeards. Then it became home or hangout to artists ranging from Maurice Utrillo to Eric Satie. Today there are many sidewalk artists as well as casual restaurants.
“From the moment they walk in, I want to immerse the guests, to put them in a different state”, Alouf continues. Throughout the hotel her paeon to passion continues. It can be passion for the neighborhood, for Paris, for art.
The colors hit you first: the entranceway done in pink and brown gives way to dramatic red and black – the red, seen throughout, has been carefully chosen. The small lobby extends to a library that includes books by some the famous writers depicted in the hotel: Baudelaire, Verlaine, Hugo, Rimbaud. On the library wall you get the first glimpse of the print theme that will continue in the rooms.
“First to love, then to say it, then to write it, then to kiss… on the mouth, the eyes and elsewhere,” wrote Victor Hugo to Juliette Drouet the woman he loved for 50 years without ever living with her.
Among the 24 rooms, eight (deluxe) pay homage to mythic couples including Edith Piaf and the boxer Marcel Cedran, her greatest love who died in a a plane crash. Imbedded in the wallpaper, specially designed by a British company, are retro black and white photos of Cedran and of Piaf, each alone.. Other such rooms depict Sartre and de Beauvoir, Charles Beaudelaire and Jeanne Duval and Apollinaire and Lou. She was indifferent to him, but his passion gave rise to great work – 220 letters and 75 poems. Indeed, a long domestic life is not the hallmark of these couples.
The four “superior” rooms are all about Montmartre at night, with it’s history of the Moulin Rouge..
The twelve “classic” rooms are designed around the themes: Secrets of Love, Stolen Kisses and Paris My Love. But you can’t survive on romance alone, and all rooms have free wifi and flat screen televisions with 50 international channels. The bathrooms, which are in a separate room from the toilets, have both hand held and rain showers, and small glittering tiles.
The rooms, like the hotel and the neighborhood itself are small.
Not so the buffet breakfast, which includes high quality cheeses and cold cuts, eggs and cereal, buttery croissants and very French coffee with steamed milk. A special touch is the heart-shaped waffles.
Among the thirty-something staff, there’s no “attitude”. They are eager to help, whether that means carrying your suitcase up in the tiny lift, printing out a map of the neighborhood or suggesting a restaurant or calling a taxi.
Hotel Montmartre Mon Amour, 7 rue Paul Albert, Paris 75008. phone +33 01 46 06 03 03.