France

01.16.2013 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Stay: Chateau de la Goujeonnerie

Vendee, France

 


I came across this fantastical, fairytale-channeling property about a year ago in World of Interiors, and more recently mentioned on travelandleisure.com, where the editors referenced its location, Vendee, in the countryside of France, as one Europe’s secret hot spots. It’s not surprising, considering that the owners–the three guys behind London’s much-ballyhooed Les Trois Garcons and Maison Trois Garcons–are the intrepid interior masterminds.

The 1872 chateau, with its floating turrets, spins a whimsical, over-the-top tale on the inside, matching the splendor of the exterior with wit and frivolity. Two-story chandeliers, spiral staircases, anatomical models, stuffed birds, Balinese elephant chairs and century-spanning antiques — everything is an extravagant gesture. Especially those symmetrically mounted horse heads with narwal horns. And a detail that escaped notice the first time I poured over the photos, the holiday chateau can be rented. Well, for a price (ahem, almost $12,000 for a long weekend). After all, the place sleeps 54 across seven ensuite bathrooms (plus 17 more in the ancillary buildings). Beyond the impressively long list of reading rooms, studies and formal dining rooms, there’s an 18-meter pool, 18 acres, and a small forest to frolic in.

02.02.2012 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Hôtel du Parc

Bourgognes-Sur-Gesse, France

Calling all romantic, aspiring innkeepers: Someone buy this hotel. The Hôtel du Parc, which recently made a heart-stopping appearance in World of Interiors, is going to close in the next year if the owner can’t find someone to take it over. Tim Beddow’s beautiful images show off the hand-painted work of Antoine Barateaud, who was the son of the hotel proprietor’s best friend. It’s a fascinating story that reads like an artistic timestamp of an era: grand hotel particular bought by young couple in love; World War I; recovering, wounded soldier with a penchant for Art Nouveau. You’ll have to nab a copy of the article (February issue) to get all the details, because it doesn’t feel right giving them all away here. And if even if you can’t buy the place, the old beauty is definitely worth traveling for.

11.01.2011 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Hotel Amour

Paris, France

There are so many things to say about Paris. I’m not sure I can add much that hasn’t already been rhapsodized to death. It both embodies and defies its stereotypes (yes, those stylish French ladies do wear a lot of stripes! yes, those baguettes are a little bit like heaven! no, French people aren’t all elitist snobs!)–visually, emotionally… gastronomically–and can completely take you in, make you love or hate it, depending on the block. The most special part of this trip was exploring a new neighborhood– one that we stayed in, thanks to expat Anne Ditmeyer, who already wrote about the Hotel Amour on designtripper.

For us, it wasn’t just about the hotel, although for the record, it’s everything Anne promised it would be plus a little more. It’s stylish yet markedly unfussy (in a “we’re way too cool to care about interiors, perhaps you might enjoy the ironic Micky Mouse statue at the front desk with a giant penis”-sort-of-way); really, really laid back (as in “you might wait a half an hour before we take your order, but we promise, it will be totally worth it.” It usually was. And the servers all wear football jerseys, strangely, and denim skirts, yet somehow it doesn’t feel nauseatingly contrived), and the grandest of all perks, it’s located in the center of the 9th arrondissement, which is full of the most beautiful food shops I have ever seen. Charcuterie stacked to the ceiling, sausages wrapped in towers and hanging by twine. Fresh fruit pyramids. I could smell the strawberries from half a block away. Patisserie after patisserie, each one more delicious-looking than the last. Endless fromage shops. There’s even a shop solely dedicated to confiture, La Chambre Aux, which sells confitures, marmalades and chutneys in infinite combination: raspberry with flower, clementine with vanilla, fig with cognac, pear with ginger. There are so many great restaurants in Paris, but we hardly left our neighborhood for food, unless it was to take our bulging market bag to a destination park for a picnic. And they close the street on Sundays, so you can do your shopping!

I have been to Paris a handful of times, but this neighborhood made me fall in love with it again. Like experiencing it for the first time. Is that another Paris cliche? I think I’m OK with that.

10.20.2011 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Place I Wish You Could Sleep

Paris, France


I’m going to be in Paris over the weekend and I’ve yet to find a place I’d rather stay. Sure, this historic apartment that looks like it was decorated by some fanciful eccentric with a magic paintbrush isn’t exactly a vacation rental, but it wouldn’t take much–a mattress on the floor? Right under the ceiling with painted rays streaming from the intricate cross-shaped medallion. Situated between Place Vendome and Place du Marché Saint-Honoré (and dangerously close to Colette), it’s one of the most unconventionally inspiring spaces I’ve ever seen. And even if you can’t sleep there, you can rent it for parties, photo shoots and other creative endeavors at Loft Connexion. I’ll be back next week!

10.14.2011 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Stay: Marais House

Paris, France

The Marais House is as quintessentially Parisian and eclectic as they get. Situated on one of the oldest street in the Marais, the 16th-century, five-story b&b also doubles as a highly coveted location for film productions and photo shoots (including a glamorous spread with Laura Dern in W magazine a few years ago). The owner completely transformed the upscale city chateau, formerly a gold-leaf workshop where artisans crafted traditional lettered facades for storefronts, bringing in the requisite elements–a wrought-iron staircase, Venetian painted doors, and count them, eight 17th century stone fireplaces–to make it feel like it’s been like this forever. If you’re so inclined, you can even rent the whole rambling place–cellars, drawing room, planted terrace with a view of the rooftops and all.

10.12.2011 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Stay: Appartement Blanc

Paris, France

We finally decided on Paris. We’re leaving next week, and we just booked our tickets–which means that finding a place to stay hasn’t been exactly easy with less than two weeks notice. But can I say this here? It doesn’t really matter where you stay in Paris. In other cities, I love having an apartment so I can cook my own food and spread out a bit, but here, I’d rather take my baguette and cheese to a park for a picnic, or my book to the corner cafe and half-watch people all day long over the pages.

Nonetheless, I did find a few super charming, already booked Parisian flats for rent, including Appartement Blanc (which I spotted on Prêt à Voyager’s Where to Sleep in Paris post). Situated between Oberkampf and Marais quarters, the space was decorated with works by French designers Créations Herbes Rouges, Tsé-Tsé Associés, Serge Barbier et Design du lieu by Juliette Barbier. I love that there’s great effort in providing linens and cutlery, so you can “set a beautiful table,” and two favorite details–worn parquet floors and a small terrace over the courtyard–make it feel quintessentially Parisian.

The Details
Two bedrooms, open living room and kitchen. $220 a night with discounts for longer stays. Rent it at appartement-blanc.fr.

10.03.2011 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Stay: Marston House in France

Apt, France

A few years ago, the owners of the Marston House, which I visited this summer on our annual summer trip to Maine, bought part of a grand, old house–in complete disrepair–in the historic center of Apt, France. After a year of “dreaming and designing,” they began slowly renovating as three separate holiday rentals. So far, there’s a one and two-bedroom apartment, with a third apartment on the way. Below, a Q&A with Sharon Mrozinski about the process.

When did you buy your first place in France?
We bought our home in Bonnieux in 1999. We had discovered this area, the Luberon, in the early ’80s and had felt an awakening in these sleeping ancient ruins. We felt as though they were all yawning waking from a deep sleep.

Paul was fascinated by the structure and materials used,  all earth-born and local ( right under your feet). He had never seen anything like these. There seemed to be no beginning or end,  somehow continuous and completely organic and unlike any structures he had studied while getting a degree in Architecture at Arizona State University. We dreamed of returning one day.

What attracted you to the apartments in Apt?
We fell in love with this rawness and lack of modernization and the grandness of it. The entry and staircase are huge showing obvious great wealth at one time, and we bought what we thought we could afford. In 2007, we began some serious remodeling after a year of dreaming and designing. We knew we could stretch it into three lovely apartments. We have one apartment left to finish on the ground floor, and it is the most amazing space. The stable will become the bedroom.

Where do you find all the beautiful furnishings?
We source the furnishings locally from dealers in Apt and Isle sur la Sorgue. We spend most of our time and buying in a 30-mile radius of our apartments in The Luberon. The entire region about 20 miles long is surrounded and covered in agriculture: farms, fields, orchards, vineyards as far as the eye can see. In fact, Apt has been the marketplace for the region for centuries. The Saturday market is the biggest and oldest to be found. It stretches from one end of town to the other and weaves through all the old cobbled streets and ancient alleys.

We don’t think we have a particular style. Utility is our goal. Everything must work in our spaces. The pieces need to “earn their keep.” Nothing sits on a shelf because it is pretty.  We have a strong American eye for simplicity and always buy only what we love and want to live with forever. We do not have an easy time buying French furnishings generally–too many curves, too elaborate, too French is our biggest challenge. With the exception of their ancient homespun peasant cloth; We can never get enough of this.

What are your favorite design elements about the home?
We can only afford small spaces that are a real challenge to make livable.  This is where Paul thrives..  He loves making the impossible into a cozy nest.. With these spaces he counts on extending the natural light.  fooling the eye to feel bigger..  The ceilings are 12″ high, so the volume is amazing. They are hard to photograph well but to live in them is remarkable. Fireplaces are an absolute in our design demands.  They are the center or the soul of a home to us. We could not build or live in a space without a fireplace… or seven.

Tell us about Apt. What do you love about the town?
Apt is famous for production and supplies of candied fruits for the world as well as the pottery that has been produced from the earth here for centuries. Apt doesn’t have “curb appeal,” but it’s at the beginning (or end) of the Luberon and still affordable so lots of young families and business booms. It is a place you need to dig deeply and discover. Not everyone likes this. We love the challenge of finding beauty in  a town that hides its history, culture and beauty. It is all there. One must look harder, dig deeper and look upward–the steeples abound.

09.12.2011 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Saint James

Paris, France


London-based designer Bambi Sloan’s latest creation of wacky extravagance is the spectacularly revamped interiors of the 100-plus-year-old St. James–a 100-plus-year-old chateau gone hotel particular. With all the push-pull tension of Bambi’s signature over-the-top restraint, the hotel is as outrageously original as her other work–like, say, the Jura Lodge (Scotland’s Isle of Jura scotch property the internet loves to love). I mean, who else can fashion a decor element from an old-fashioned hot air balloon, which she prominently features as a tent on the garden terrace and wallpaper motif in the hallway? Sure, the neo-classical mansion was built on Paris’ first hot air balloon airfield, but still. Hot air balloons! Well done, Bambi Sloane.

[Photos courtesy at Tablet Hotels, where you can book a room at the Saint James]

08.22.2011 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Hotel Particular Montmartre

Paris, France (and Detroit)


My husband Ryan and I are planning a trip to Paris and Antwerp. It’s a long-overdue Christmas present, but I’m still waffling for a number of reasons: tickets to Paris are exorbitant right now; I love fall in the Midwest; I’ve been meaning to visit Porto. Coincidentally, our good friend from Detroit called this weekend from Portugal while he’s touring with Deerhunter to tell us that we have to go to Porto. He promised us that we’d love it–kind of dirty and utterly romantic.

Then  I remembered that someone was recently gushing about the Hotel Particular Montmartre. The glamorous interiors, designed by Morgane Rousseau, are indeed quite sharp but perhaps a little too fancy for my tastes–in a dripping crystal, gilded mirror, tufted wall kind of way. As I was clicking around aimlessly on the hotel’s website, I stumbled across a familiar piece of art currently on exhibit there: a delicate, frilly dress sculpture by fellow Detroiter and immensely talented Cristin Richard. Created from pig intestines she gets at Eastern Market, Cristin’s ethereal dresses–which do stunning job of exploring female sexuality, haute couture and the perception of beauty–are worth traveling for. Luckily, given the price of plane tickets to Paris right now, you can come to Detroit instead–the Paris of the Midwest.

07.27.2011 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: La Pauline

Aix-en-Provence, France

Designtripper contributor D. Graham Kostic gives a special report on La Pauline, a b&b outside of Aix-en-Provence.

Originally we had wanted to do a Southwest USA road trip. You know, rent a convertible and wear a silk scarf that would flap in the breeze behind me while stopping at towns that have become famous for alien encounters. Or we said we wanted to do a Provence and the French Riviera road trip. So when we’d tell friends our options, they’d turn their nose at the Southwest and get all goo-goo-eyed for Provence. Well, it wasn’t long before we were jet-lagged in Paris and on the TGV to Avignon to rent a car and go. It was a mad-cap adventure through the south of France (and on to Italy afterwards), but there was one place that stood out among the rest. Outside of Aix-en-Provence is La Pauline, a bed and breakfast that left an indelible mark on our hearts. So the story goes that Napoleon (as in that little man who tucked his hand into his shirt) had a sister named Pauline and Pauline fell in love with a man who owned a lot of land in Provence. The man, however, was married, but still wanted Pauline close. So he built Pauline a country estate where they would rendezvous. History aside, the place is absolutely beautiful and the service unmatched. We pulled up to large ornate iron gates that looked on to a long drive lined with yew-trees and were greeted by the hotel manager Silvia, who I decided has to be on our Christmas card list. The small five-room bed and breakfast is well-appointed with the best smelling linens we’ve ever smelled and a carrera marble bathroom that overlooks a small hedge maze (side note: I’ve always wanted a garden maze, so I was completely floored). A lofty common room with colorful chairs and a long farm table makes for a wonderful place to eat a homemade breakfast that I still think about. When I called to book our reservation, Silvia asked if we would be joining her for breakfast. Mais oui, i said and then she asked what we would want from the farmer’s market. I told her to surprise us. Cheeses, meats, hard-boiled eggs, fresh breads, jams, fresh squeezed orange juice—it was, hands-down, the most delicious breakfast I’ve ever had.

And dinner? Well, we wanted to head into Aix for dinner that evening, but something about our comfortable room and the calm grounds made us want to stay there forever.  We found the nearest grocery store and had a picnic late at night. The rooms (separated from the main house, which is the owner’s residence) was provençale to a T—cool, white plaster walls and a cement floor with simple furniture. Local linens on the beds and windows finished the look. The whole place sort of made me want to throw open the shutters and sing that opening song from Beauty and the Beast. Well, I actually did do that a few times and it felt so good.

07.22.2011 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: la Maison Champs-Elysées

Paris, France


Designed by Maison Martin Margiela, the highly anticipated, newly unveiled interior of la Maison Champs-Elysées is a study in contrasts–spare and decadent, serious and playful, black and white, clever and a total fantasy. It’s also one of the most beautiful hotel interiors I have ever seen.


[Photos via hypebeast.com]

07.06.2011 | by: Alexandria
Inns & Hotels

Check in: Hotel Ermitage

St. Tropez, France

 

When a super-hipster scenester decides to update a sleepy little hillside hotel on the French Riviera, the results are usually sleek and soulless. But here’s an exception. Nightclub owner/graffiti artist Andrea Saraiva purchased the Hotel Ermitage in St. Tropez two years ago, but he decided to skip the typical resort-town extravagance in favor of the 19th-century villa’s inherent low-key appeal. That means that the petanque court has stayed intact, its once-ramshackle interiors have been carefully updated to preserve a sense of quirky elegance, and the bay views are still the hotel’s single most-relaxing attraction. The overall look and vibe keeps that magical/mystical Riviera vibe intact, giving a feeling that a young Jean Seberg might pop in at any minute. Saraiva has appointed friends like Marc Newson, Christian Louboutin and Olivier Zahm to decorate some of its 27 rooms, which have pieces from the likes of Jean Prouve and Ettore Sottsass, the better to evoke St. Tropez’s global heyday in the 1950s.

06.13.2011 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Stay: Le Lieu Perdu

Montazeau, France

We got a sneak peek of the beautiful Le Lieu Perdu a few months ago when we interviewed Ben Lambers of Studio Aandracht. Here, a much-deserved post dedicated entirely to his photographs of this dreamy, completely renovated stone house in southern France. In the early 19th century the granddaughter of famous French philosopher Michel Eyquem de Montaigne took residence in this home on the hill overlooking vinyards and fields of flowers–and now, it’s a vacation house filled with a black, white and gold color palette, a wonderfully eccentric style and bohemian spirit. “We stayed in Montazeau two times now,” says Ben, “and we never stop being impressed by the beauty of this magnificent place.”

The Details
Located in the Dordogne department, the four-bedroom house sleeps eight. Rent it at lelieuperdu.therecollection.com.

[Photography by Ben Lambers; Production, Tatjana Quax]

04.15.2011 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Check In: Hotel Amour

Paris, France

Paris-based graphic designer/travel blogger Anne Ditmeyer of the fantastic Prêt à Voyager gives designtripper a special account of her favorite neighborhood hotel, Hotel Amour, which was pulled together by the one-named Parisian art/nightlife impresario André and is known for its artist-designed rooms. For more on living in and visiting Paris, make sure to check out her blog! Here’s what she has to say:

Walk into Hotel Amour and you’ll think you’re in the wrong place, in the heart of a restaurant with a chill vibe and great buzz. Turn right and you’re at the front desk that feels more like a hostess stand than a reception center. Check in and you’ll disappear around the corner through a discrete door that takes you next door and upstairs to the series of 24 rooms behind the facade of a typical Parisian apartment building. Reminiscent of the Ace Hotels in the US, this independent hotel brings together decor that ties together vintage classics with a modern sophisticated feel, but where each room takes on a flavor of its own. Designed by various names in the French design scene the painted walls and unexpected color palettes matched with crisp white bedspreads keep the understated simplicity without losing a drop of style. The duplex room I visited was encompassed by untraditional black walls, and felt like a stylish city loft despite its first floor location. Perhaps even more appealing than the inviting interiors is the price tag that is friendlier than most in Paris.

With an address (8 Rue Navarin, 9) tucked in the delightful 9th arrondisement, just south of Montmarte—the same neighborhood I call home—and off the main tourist track, Hotel Amour is one of only a handful of boutique hotels in Paris which finds the balance between style and function. Around the corner from the hotel is the famous Rue des Martyrs with a view up to Sacre Coeur, which is pedestrian only every Sunday until 2:30pm. It’s the kind of place where the neighborhood brings as much charm as the hotel itself. There is even the added bonus of having one of the meilleure, or best, baguettes de Paris just down the street at Delmontel (39 Rue des Marytrs, 9). The location alone allows for great exploration of independent shops nearby and an overall setting that just feels French.