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Stained Glass … Memories of France

September 17, 2016 @ 1:52 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris watercolors

Charming stained glass in Paris

All of us who love France find ways to nurture those feelings, to indulge often in the pleasant memories that stay with us for weeks and weeks after our travels. And so it is with my painting, as if touching brush and pen to paper will resurrect the best of our times in France.

One of my favorites, this ‘vitrail’ painting returns me to the one of the most enchanting times of our last stay in Paris.  With our dear friends we were invited to brunch at the home of his brother and family in the 16th arrondissement.  We enjoyed a warm welcome from our hosts, their two young-adult student children and the Russian exchange student, who was residing in their ‘chamber de bonne’ for a year.  Instantly we have the mix of generations and diverse cultures to guarantee lively conversations!

We gathered in their lovely dining room – with the table set before this magnificent window and spread, of course, with all kinds of enticing fare from the patisserie, charcuterie and local market.  As we spread artisan breads with fresh local jams and sampled an assortment of meats and cheeses, we shared little slices of our lives.

I particularly remember talking about different expressions and ways of life.  We refer to ‘raining cats and dogs’.  The French – ‘raining ropes’.  Our ‘turncoats’ are traitors.  Theirs turn their coats inside out – quelqu’un qui a retourné sa veste.  The daughter asks, “What IS a food court?” I think her question was borne less of really expecting some kind of definition and more of trying to comprehend why you would have such a thing.  That’s not exactly surprising given all of the intimate café choices one has in Paris!

Paris Art Deco

Entry to Hector Guimard’s home in Paris

As if we had not been immersed in enough culture and charm, we wandered a bit on leaving and found ourselves in front of the home of Hector Guimard – designer of the famous Art Deco metro entrances.  Quite an afternoon, so I’m sure you don’t wonder at my desire to resurrect the whole thing!

Hoping you have a “Bon Weekend!”

 

We’d love to hear from you!

 

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Hôtel de Crillon Reimagined

March 14, 2015 @ 12:22 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Paris luxury hotels

Overlooking Place de la Concorde – ©Atout France/Hôtel de Crillon

Two years into the renovation of the renowned Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, we still can only imagine the changes taking place. Many of us would wonder at any change to this veritable institution directly across the street from the American Embassy. Yet, in 2013 came the announcement about the closure for renovations and the forthcoming change in management to Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.

Beyond tantalizing mentions of the auctioning of an abundant number of hotel accents, furnishings … and wine; the fate and future of the hotel has been cloaked in mystery. Now, though, we learn that no other than Karl Lagerfeld has been commissioned to apply his creative genius to the design of two suites.

luxury hotels of Paris

Junior suite – ©Atout France/Hôtel de Crillon

Acclaimed not only for fine craftsmanship but for blending history ‘with an edge’, perhaps even Mr. Lagerfeld feels a slight hesitation in tackling this Parisian landmark. Of course I am wrong about that – what designer wouldn’t jump at the chance to create a signature suite in one of the world’s finest hotels?

Under Rosewood’s core philosophy – A Sense of Place® – Mr. Lagerfeld will apply his unparalleled talent in the marriage of 18th century heritage with 2015 ‘je ne sais pas’.   Overlooking Place de la Concorde, the Hôtel de Crillon has witnessed abundant history from the reign of French Kings to the fall of Napoleon’s Empire and the birth of the League of Nations.

I hope that Karl Lagerfeld and the myriad designers involved in this renovation find the ideal balance of respect for heritage with light touches of the contemporary world in which we live. While my personal prejudice sways away from ultra-modern treatments of grand old buildings, I recognize that some might lean in the opposite direction.

Some describe the magnificent hotel as “…a living testament to the very best way of life France has to offer.” Alas, we all simply must wait and see for the unveiling of this monumental project in 2016.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Le Prieuré – Elegant Avignon Retreat

December 11, 2014 @ 12:29 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Retreat to the French countryside

Le Prieuré – hotel in the country by Avignon

Gift-giving season is here, and who among us wouldn’t cherish the gift of travel in France?  While we love the refined manoirs within the storied walls of old Avignon; we would easily enjoy experiencing a private setting with easy access to the historic area.  Le Prieuré,  just across the Rhône in Villeneuve- lès- Avignon, would definitely fit that bill!

The owners promise a stay that is both authentic and elegant. You’ll first want to book your stay at Le Prieuré, though keep in mind their seasonal closure may run to mid March, 2012.  A member of the distinguished Relais & Chateaux collection of luxury hotels and restaurants, Le Prieuré is a former 15th-century convent, magically transformed into a welcoming hotel and perfumed by the priests’ trellised garden of roses and wisteria.

Lavish Provençal style mixes with contemporary convenience in the carefully restored rooms and suites, that guarantee an intimate and comfortable stay. You may be surprised at the rich heritage and treasures in the village.

The dominant tower on the skyline – Fort Saint André and the Philippe le Bel Tower – remind us of Avignon’s alliance with the Holy Roman Empire and the need to protect the Benedictine abbey and town.  And the municipal museum in the Pierre-de-Luxembourg mansion displays exceptional art, notably religious works from ivory carvings to 17th century paintings.

The charming village becomes the focal point for performances and festivals throughout the year; due to their strategic location where Provence, la Camargue and Languedoc come together. Of course, you will visit the lovely old streets of Avignon to enjoy its’ special blend of history, striking architecture and inviting collection of shops and restaurants.

But the delight comes with your return from those lively moments to seal each and every memory with a quiet glass of wine on the balcony.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Luxury Redefined at Hôtel de Crillon

July 30, 2014 @ 10:50 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Hotel de Crillon, Paris

Crillon lobby elegance!

The renowned Hôtel de Crillon, right next door to the American Embassy in Paris, is about to complete a two-year renovation. Slated to reopen next year, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world will present a bright new face in order “to meet its clients’ highest standards.  Really?

Far be it from me to question the tastes and/or decisions of those who cater to those who likely spend as much on a stay at this magnificent hotel as many would spend on six months’ worth of mortgage payments! That disclaimer aside, you can be certain that the Crillon had not fallen into musty disrepair! Rather, like a bored homemaker shoving furniture about or painting a wall to freshen the home; the new management wanted to make a dual statement of refined continuity and techno-luxury progress.

Paris hotel Luxury

Signature style – what is coming at Hotel de Crillon?

I stand among many who appreciate the Hôtel de Crillon and, in fact, have some very fond memories of brushing up against her opulent presence. Many years ago during my first visit to Paris, my good friend once again demonstrated ‘the world is my oyster’ style. Dressed for a casual walk and a bit sodden with the Paris mist, she insisted we duck into the hotel for a visit to the restroom and gift shop. So discreetly imposing was the grand edifice, I balked at the thought quickly theorizing that such a visit would equal attending an upscale event in shorts and flip flops!

No, no, my friend assured me, and we entered … with her darling dog in the lead. A uniformed gentleman nodded with an appropriate smile, and we traversed the marble foyer and descended elegant stairs to the toilette. Certainly quite serviceable and inviting, the rest room nonetheless did not equal that of The Ritz; though I don’t intend to cast aspersions.

Then, we enjoyed moments of hushed French-style conversation with the gracious attendant in the gift shop, as we looked among porcelain keepsakes, sumptuous leather goods and light-as-air silk scarves. Despite my initial misgivings, it was a delightful experience … and certainly memorable.

I had no idea that the genteel tenacity of my friend offered such benefits!  Well indoctrinated now to the Crillon’s egalitarian hospitality, on another occasion I waited to meet my friend in the hotel lobby….that famous, gleaming lobby with quietly efficient hosts and elegant guests.  I marveled at the thin, fine leather boots of a statuesque young woman attached to the arm of a quite dignified gentleman.

Imagine, then, my sorrow on reading about a tourist who had the same thought to take a peek inside, perhaps a good ten years after our adventure.  As this lady approached the door, a guard at the front explained that only hotel guests could enter in order to protect the privacy of their guests.

Now, I only wish we had stopped in for a glass of wine, as my daughter and I did one evening at The Ritz; but that is another story, and I am well satisfied with my Crillon memories at the moment.  In fact, even ambling along the sidewalk in front of the hotel is quite an experience.  Elegantly uniformed livery men oversee a stable of sleek, black vehicles, every ready to spring into action for in-or outbound guests.  A stately tall black man leaves the hotel in what appears to be the attire of African royalty.  There is an indescribable hum of service and wealth and privilege that is interesting to see, a window on a world most of us do not encounter … on a regular basis.

Enjoy the big and little moments of your life.  And, as they say, “act as if” and perhaps you will be welcomed into otherwise hallowed ground!

We’d love to hear from you!

swsheridan@luxeeuro.com

Copyright © 2014, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Meert – # 1 Palate Pleasure in Lille!

March 18, 2014 @ 2:43 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Lille, France

Patisserie to royalty in Lille

Today we seem to live at the speed of  light, hooked to little electronic gadgets that nag us – with our permission, thank you – throughout every waking moment.  That’s all the more reason  to appreciate Meert.

Nothing happens in France overnight, least of all a blossoming friendship or a thriving patisserie.  No, the maturation of either requires patience, tender care, growing trust and a touch of vision.  And so it is with Meert.  Over 250 years ago – in 1761, to be precise – a sweets and chocolate shop was born at 27 rue Esquermoise in Lille. Some ten years later, the addition of Meert’s famous ice cream inspired the reverence of the Count of Lille and transformed the establishment into one of Lille’s most fashionable sites, proving once again that the touch of royalty ‘gilds the lilly’.

Flash forward to 1839, when the decision was made to renovate the establishment.  The creative team included the architect César Benvignat – the official architect of Old Lille, painter Stalars and sculptor Huidiez; who combined their brilliance to create the impressive, ornate oriental style you find at Meert today.  Ten years later, Meert became the official supplier of King Leopold I and concocted one of the stellar products of the store – the famous vanilla-filled waffle.

Along the way, the house added a first-in-class restaurant poised along a sun-bathed interior courtyard with a 19th century glass roof.  Now, the distinguished clientèle enjoys the multi-faceted historic boutique, traditional tearoom and gastronomic restaurant all presented in the extravagant and tasteful surroundings of Maison Meert. A second restaurant at Lille Printemps has been added, as well as two Paris locations in the Marais and Saint-Germain, in Bruxelles and Roubaix.

Now, about that infamous waffle….

Ten years ago, the EphéMeert waffle appeared beside the traditional vanilla waffle that is particularly known for its’ flavorful Vanille de Madagascar.  Flavors range from praline and puffed rice, pistachio and morello cherry to blackcurrant and violet flavors.  You can be certain that the enticing combinations are tucked away quite carefully in the little tattered notebook that guards the Meert’s cherished secrets!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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