salons of paris

Marie Antoinette at hotel soubouise
leaving for paree in 10 days. it seems like a dream and i’m so tired i’m sleepwalking! no rest for the weary till i tie up the annoying loose ends that bind me! my friend carol k’s been helping make that happen. i see how important a brilliant team is, so thank you girl! now just putting final touches on the itinerary. i appreciate but can’t go to monuments in paris. what gets me are places that were homes, apartments, salons, or Hôtels (aka mansions). i did mention i was a voyeur…


one palace i love is Hôtel Carnavalet, a little palace in the Marais and former home of Madame de Sévigné who was famous for hosting parties in her Salon. she wrote hundreds of letters to her daughter during the reign of Louis XIV. they’re like a diary of life in 1600’s paris and tell about her life’s struggles.

l’Hôtel de Soubise



Soubise is another beautiful mansion in the same neighborhood. lots of the marie antoinette film was shot there. i love the turquoise ceilings.

i’m dreaming about staying longer, forgetting ny for awhile and drifting along the french countryside in october. in my fantasy i’d rent a car and jet down to provence and explore more. a blogging friend invited me and i’d love to take her up on a cup o tea down south. But my REsPoNsIbIliTieS!!

i fell in love with the countryside as a kid travelling with my family. after graduation i went back with Volunteers for Peace for something to do between college and the real world. i just came across the ran into the link yesterday from another cool site:


maybe i want to re-live the good times i had? it really was THE best time, restoring ancient chapels and living with such fun people. you choose your country and interests. france has 45 camps going on right now that you can live/work and and have a blast for like 2 weeks, $250. i’m gonna check out what’s happening now. (it was 20 years ago)!

i just found this one:

Project: The municipality of Montendre has already played host to several
international work camps. The restoration of the town’s castle, using traditional,
old-fashioned techniques is something many of the local people keep close to heart,
but currently, their castle is in need of a hand from the younger generation! The main
objective of this year’s work camp will be to repair and refill the joints of a section of the
wall, in order to keep it in good condition. The local community, now well accustomed to
the work camp dynamic, are present on a regular basis to meet and exchange with the
volunteers. ACCOMODATION: tents. LOCATION: 75 km from the sea and to the north of
Bordeaux .

wait tents? maybe when i was in college…now i want to sleep in the castle!

August 19, 2007. Uncategorized. 10 comments.

and then there was cake


bonjour toute le monde et happy friday. it’s the mid january and seems like the whole country is bracing for some winter weather and indoor time. it’s even been dreary and cold here which is sort of good cause i tend to nest in this weather and get tough with the editing. day 18 into this project and focusing today on lots of ideas including raising my standards in every area, but right about now just having some creative fun and remembering what i love about what i do and who i do it with. isn’t it funny how your friends can pull you out of a funk you didn’t know you were in?


working around the apartment today with candy and liz got me to realize that since i moved in here it’s been a revolving door of decor. i buy and sell from home so if a painting or table goes out the door, it’s got to be replaced or there’s a gaping hole. well those glaring gaping holes were finally acknowledged today. i’m determined to give this place the respect it deserves and am about to launch into a makeover on it, just a little something each day.

i’ve always been in love with the decorative trims on the walls and doors in france. in fact i can almost say that they’re what inspired The Paris Apartment. after living as an au pair with a family who had an apartment that looked like its walls were made of icing, i was hooked.


i’m trying to remember all the things that have made tpa so much fun for me to build over the years. clearly i loved it enough to get up and work on it every day for two decades. today it hit me like a brick (or decorative) wall.


i’ve been studying illustrations and renderings of walls for years and even have a decent collection.


one elements i always added to my stores and homes was a bit of trim, however crude (cutting mitered corners with a hacksaw half the time). well who’s to say what the interpretation for inspiration should look like, right? but truth is the originals are so elegant and intricate. and no two rooms are ever alike.


i wonder about the women who dressed so beautifully and floated around those rooms of cake


what their daily lives must have been like with no central heat, hot tap water or even les toilets


but somehow they managed to create what i personally still consider the epitome of design in every aspect


even as a relic you can see the magnificence of an apartment like this


with mirrors inset and gold leaf trim


just who were these purveyors of such fine design?


there’s such beauty among the madness in 1700s france…a place where streets were sewers yet these ladies surrounded themselves in silk from head to toe as a way to rebel against the brutality of the time


amidst inequality, famine, fear and despair came the architects, textile weavers, wig styllists, porcelain, bronze and silver makers, furniture designers, painters…


and the salon hostesses showcasing it all…


even simple decoration is dramatic. no detail was overlooked from the ceiling to the doors.

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once the trim went up the riot of color began…

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photos found here:

i’ve been working with my friends and selling some of their things when they feel like tpa.  i’ve had two headboards here for a while that keni salvaged from the eden roc hotel almost 50 years ago. he wasn’t sure what to do with them, he himself has had them for  20 years. i took them from him thinking i’d sell them and secretly hoping to use them while they were here but it never happened and they were slated to go back today. but this bare wall (due to a mirror selling the other day) was calling and having candy and liz here inspired me to pick one up and see if it would work over the space. liz said it looked ridiculous but then candy picked up the other piece and instead of putting them side by side like headboards, she flipped it underneath.


it probably seems like an obvious move but to tell you the truth i’m not sure i would have thought of it. it made me realize that when you think of something in one way sometimes your mind will not let it be anything but that. to her they weren’t headboards so there was no barrier. anyway it was a wakeup call to think outside the box.


they’re light as feathers so with two nails on each piece it was up in less than 5 minutes.


and then i remembered: my plans for ‘Ballroom and Boudoir in a Box’. it’s something that could finally come to fruition after years of just ruminating on it.


so strange how things come to you just when you need them. or maybe it’s perfectly normal…


anyway that’s it for today. below is a silent tour of my place as is. guess i’m baring it all. have a wonderful weekend!


January 22, 2016. the paris apartment project, TPA Project. 5 comments.

puttin’ on biarritz


allo toute le monde! it’s travel day and we’re leaving paris in just a few minutes. it was supposed to be a surprise for my 50th birthday but i couldn’t help asking my dear old friend where we were heading next. when she told me the name of the hotel of course i had to google it and she’s about to kill me for falling down the rabbit hole digging into the history of our incredible next destination.



i’m rushing through this post to quickly publish before a). she throws me off the balcony and b). i see the hotel for myself. as a lover of history i can’t help but imagine what we’re about to see when it was just a concept, to think of the men and women who conceived of it and created it out of thin air. the place we’re heading is now a palace, has been called a villa, a hotel, a casino and home. so much fascinating history! i’m having to skim it and apologize for probably not documenting it properly but please enjoy a little history on the Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz.


The former imperial villa became an example of neo-Louis XIII-style palace. Towards 1854, the imperial couple bought acres of dunes he did develop the Dagueret engineer to create a domain with park, woods, meadows, vegetable garden, pond, outbuildings and summer residence. The work of the villa began in 1854, led by the architect Louis-Auguste and Bertrand Couvrechef inspector. On the death of Couvrechef in 1857, they continued under the direction of architect Ancelet and Inspector Oscar Tisnès. The villa had a long main building with three perpendicular wings, the last shorter than the others who formed a court of honor. In 1867, the villa was haussée one floor and transformed. On the death of the Emperor, the Empress Eugenie sold the estate in 1880 to the Bank of the Parisian Union. The villa was turned into a casino hotel. In 1903 a fire destroyed the building. The architect Edouard Niermans raised the hotel from its ruins. The program included the preservation of the exterior walls, creating three hundred rooms, apartments, lounges and a dining room. The ground floor has a large hall, a party room and a winter garden rotunda. Construction introduced the use of reinforced concrete and chaining between the preserved parts and the news.



Hotel du Palais has a spectacular location right above the beach of Biarritz (Grande Plage) with a view on the Atlantic Ocean, the Pyrenees and Spain.



1854: Construction of Villa Eugenie, summer home for the French Emperor Napoleon III and Emperess Eugenie. The architect is Hippolyte Durand, followed by Louis-Auguste Couvrechef.

The last French Empress, Eugenie, loved Biarritz vacationing as a child. After her marriage to Napoleon III in 1853, the couple spent the summer in Biarritz and in 1854 built a palace to house their court: The Villa Eugenie.


1855: Grand opening of the Villa – Napoleon III gives many hi profile receptions.

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1858: Portrait of the Emperess with view on the grande plage de Biarritz.


1873: Empress Eugenie inherits the Villa on the death of Napoleon III.

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1880: The Empress sells the Hotel to the Banque de l’Union Parisienne.

Villa Eugenie becomes the Palais Biarritz, a Casino Hotel.

1893: The Palace is renamed Hôtel du Palais and opens as a Palace Hotel.
Queen Victoria and Empress Siss of Austria are among the guests.


1903: February 1, A fire destroys the Hotel.



1903-1905: Reconstruction of the Hotel. The architect is Édouard-Jean Niermans.
The former walls of the Villa Eugenie are repaced by a Louis XIII style.



The salon imperial and the Retonde are added.
1915: Coco Chanel opens a Couture Salon on 2 avenue Edouard VII not far from the Hotel du Palais.

1920s: Biarritz is very fashionable and known as « queen of resorts and resort of Kings »

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1922: Bal du Second Empire given by King Alphonse III of Spain.

1950: Closing of the Hotel.
1954: To save the Hotel the city of Biarritz buys it.

1962: January 1, Foundation of Socomix, a company in charge of the Management of the Hotel,
partly owned by the city of Biarritz.

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1963: Jean Louis Lembacher arrives at the Hotel as receptionist.

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1991: Hotel du Palais decides to open all year.
Jean Louis Leimbacher becomes the director of the Hotel.
Didier Borota from the city of Biarritz pushes investments
to attract clients to come all year round.


1993: August 21, Ira von Fuerstenberg organizes the Windsor Ball.
The are more photographers than guests.

1993: December 24, Hotel du Palais gets listed as a Historic Monument.
1999: Duchess Rixa von Oldenburg organizes the very spectecular Bal de l’été.

2006: Opening of a 3000m2 Spa (the largest Spa in France)

2011: Mai 5, Hotel du Palais receives the new official Label « Palace ***** »
given by the French Ministy of Tourism to describe a new elite categorie of 5 Star Hotels in France.
Unlike Hotel du Palais not every French « Palace » is part of « Palace Hotels of the« ,

2013: January, Hotel du Palais becomes part of Orient Express with a special status of beeing the very first Orient-Express Associate Hotels (a Hotel which is not owned by Orient Express).
2014: March 10, The « Orient Express » Hotels brand is rebaptised « Belmond ».



ok gotta go, it’s become an obsession and i’m about to miss our train…here are a couple more links if you’re interested!

June 24, 2015. Biarritz, France, Hotel du Palais Biarritz. 6 comments.

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