Antiques Blog

Who was Madeleine Castaing?

Tory Burch recently posted this image of her vanity table on Instagram, and I fell madly in love with it all, particularly the wallpaper. It is Rayure Fleurie by Madeleine Castaing, and Brunschwig & Fils recently brought it back into their showrooms.

Fashion Designer Tory Burchs Vanity in her South Hampton home, NY.

Who was Madeleine Castaing?
(1894–1992) Madeleine Castaing was a French antique dealer and interior designer of international renown. She was the friend and the sponsor of many artists, including Soutine and Modigliani, who made her portrait in 1928. Original, even whimsical, she revolutionized the world of decoration, creating the style Castaing which is now a reference.

Madeleine Castaing


Nearly a quarter-century after her death, Madeleine Castaing, France’s grande dame of decoration, still beguiles and seduces. Setting out to please her eye alone, the cult tastemaker crafted a haunting signature aesthetic that quixotically paired picturesque romance with tailored neoclassicism—a cocktail that made her an instant success in war-bruised 1940s Paris and ultimately placed her in the pantheon of 20th-century style legends.

Madeleine Castaing country house salon

“I expressed myself in what touched me all my life; in houses, gardens, furniture, ornamentation, and interior design, where imagination, emotion plays,” recalled Castaing, who died in 1992 at age 98, after an eventful life that included starring in a silent film and becoming one of painter Chaim Soutine’s most important patrons. Her work—often inspired by the novels of Marcel Proust and Honoré de Balzac—has influenced everyone from decorator Jacques Grange to fashion designer Anna Sui. And though her atmospheric interiors have been described as dreamy, her vision was crystal clear.

Tory Burch Rodeo Drive flagship store channels Madeleine Castaing.

You can read more about Madeleine Castaing via Architectural Digest, The Telegraph (UK), The Peak of Chic, Little Augury, and Habitually Chic. There is also a wonderful book, The World of Madeleine Castaing, available through Amazon. Her fabric and wallpaper collection is available through Brunschwig & Fils. You can own an authentic piece of Madeleine Castaing by clicking here. Only at The Antique Warehouse. Canada’s largest importers of important French antique and vintage French furniture.

Thanks for Reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Abandoned Ruins Become Glamorous Home

For over 150 years, a limestone house built on the tiny island of Coll in Scotland was left abandoned, watching over the crashing waves, whistling with the wind that danced through its cracks. When I saw this article and how gorgeous this abandoned ruin turned out, I immediately wanted to move to Scotland. (My Parisian friend Jeff, who I speak of often suggested this idea years ago)

NYTCREDIT: Michael Harding for The New York Times

It was built in the 1700’s for the caretaker of a large estate belonging to the Macleans, a family who still own land on the island today. With its sandy foundations however, a century later the strength of the house began to weaken and the walls started to crack. The house was soon deserted by its inhabitants and saw very few visitors pass through its doors after that.

NYTCREDIT: Michael Harding for The New York Times

It wasn’t until dozens of generations later that the Maclean family decided to bring what was now a ruin, back to life. Alex Maclean-Bristol, a former British army captain along with his wife Seonaid, arrived on the island six years ago to take over some of the 800 acre-estate and farm that belonged to his parents.

The ruins of the old house which had been named the ‘White House’ had been inherited by Alex earlier in his youth and he had always been drawn to the site. His wife Seonaid had left her job as a specialist in Chinese and Japanese artworks at Sotheby’s and also saw the potential in the ruins. Together, the couple masterminded a plan to make the White House their new home.

NYTCREDIT: Michael Harding for The New York Times

A year and six months and just under $2 million later, once again, the White House became a home. William Tunnell of WT Architecture in Scotland helped the couple construct a new main house within the frame of the old roofless ruins and extending out into an H-shaped floor plan. The living room which joins the old house with its modern parallel extension is an exposed glass room with incredible views of the ocean.

NYTCREDIT: Michael Harding for The New York Times

Next time you come across an abandoned ruin you may reconsider it’s validity as a renovation project. Oh and this one cost $2M.

Cheers,

Mark LaFleur
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
The Antique Warehouse.

Who’s Orry Kelly?

Ever hear of Orry Kelly before? I never had. I thought they were two people actually. It wasn’t until watching Auntie Mame on television the other night (I’ve never actually watched Auntie Mame (starring Rosalind Russell) all the way through. I just found Rosalind Russell and all her flitting and throwing around the word ‘darling’ just a bit too grating on the nerves and also I was too weak from the flu to turn off the TV.)

But this time something grabbed my attention. It was the first appearance of her ‘nephew’ when Russell was dressed in an orange and black beaded gown that held me quite spellbound. Who on earth designed that I thought to myself.

Russell and her co-star screen nephew.

I PVR’d feverishly to the credits and discovered a name I had never heard before. Orry Kelly. I thought I knew everything about costume designers. Here’s a name that really boggled my mind. How had this name escaped me all these years.

The use of the very expensive ‘Technicolor’ filming process gives the real power to these designs.

I’d never noticed how magnificent they were. The use of color, line and silhouette. Who was responsible for these over the top Bob Mackie’ish (but better) creations.

Oh, just about everyone knows that weird little woman Edith Head who never cracked a smile any person would help cross the street with those blind woman glasses she always wore. Edith’s work was pretty ordinary. And I’d heard of Adrian who dressed the greats in the early 20’s and 30’s including Garbo herself. Adrians’ work was pretty great.

Edith Head. Apparently the greatest costume designer in Hollywood. I would have called her the most prolific. But seriously, if you saw her standing on a street corner wouldn’t you take her by the elbow?

But back to Orry Kelly. The beauty of the internet is you don’t have look very far and wide on the information super highway to find out everything about anyone. And the name Orry Kelly popped out with a whole bunch of fascinating information personally and professionally.

Lots of Hollywood type gossip mainly about his affairs with leading men etc.

It was alleged Cary Grant had many boyfriends Orry Kelly being one. Just for your interest sake, Cary Grant’s actual name was Archie Leach and was 2 cousin to our Larry Adams. Now you know where he got his good looks from.

The designer was born George Orry Kelly in the small town of Kiama, Australia, in 1897. At 17 he moved to Sydney, then a few years later to New York City. There he made a living selling hand-painted shawls and ties, and he met a breathtakingly handsome fellow immigrant — a penniless young man from Bristol, England, named Archie Leach, destined for movie stardom as Cary Grant. They lived together off and on for nine years, and both eventually made it to Hollywood.

After moving to Hollywood and making a name for himself Cary Grant cut off any association with the designer which Orry deeply resented. It wasn’t Carey’s fault. It was job security for Cary Grant. As it is with many Hollywood stars even today.

But the closet was not for Orry-Kelly, and he managed a stellar career just the same. “It was really quite brave” of him to be openly gay at the time, Armstrong says. It didn’t hurt that he was close friends with Ann Warner; her husband, Jack, headed the Warner Bros. studio, where the designer ran the costume department from 1932 to 1944. It also didn’t hurt that he had cordial relationships with powerful gossip columnists Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper, who could make or break anyone in Hollywood.

Hedda Hopper (left) Louella Parsons (right)

None of that would have helped, though, if Orry-Kelly didn’t have incredible talent. He created the dazzling and often risque costumes for the dancers in the visually stunning musical numbers in director-choreographer Busby Berkeley’s films. In Casablanca, he showcased Ingrid Bergman’s beauty with simple but elegant clothing that made her character the world’s best-dressed refugee. Late in his career, with Some Like It Hot, he won his third Oscar thanks to his see-through, strategically beaded dresses for Marilyn Monroe — as well as the costumes in which Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis disguised themselves as women.

Rare behind the scenes shot of Orry Kelly and Marilyn Monroe in ‘Some like it Hot’.

Orry-Kelly tended to work collaboratively with actresses, and he had a particular rapport with Bette Davis, who was unafraid to look unattractive if it suited the character, such as in the gaudy frocks she wore as a fading beauty in Mr. Skeffington. He also designed her famous dress for Jezebel — in which she appears, scandalously, in a red gown at a ball where the women were specifically asked to wear white. It worked even in a black-and-white film. He created the wonderful outfits for Ms. Davis is one of my favorite films Now Voyager where Bette is transformed from an ugly duckling to a ravishing beauty. The change is quite amazing and it’s all done with clothes and make-up.

Davis goes from the frumpy to the fabulous in the movie Now Voyager.

Bette Davis dressed in Orry Kelly for Jezebel, the movie that inspired the making of Gone with the Wind.

The designer’s career had its downs as well as ups. He was a heavy drinker who didn’t suffer fools gladly, and these factors likely contributed to his firing from Warner Bros., although he says in the memoir, “Jack Warner eventually said I could stay even if I am a mean drunk.” His drinking finally led to a stint in rehab, during which all but a few friends deserted him, but he bounced back and kept working almost up to his death from cancer in 1964.

Delores Del Rio wearing a n Orry Kelly in the 1935 film I Live to Love.

One last note on the designer, Orry Kelly won three academy awards and several nominations for his work. His design credits are too numerous to mention.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
V5X2R5

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Fox or Faux Fur

Im not one of these PETA activists but I could easily become one. Particularly after hearing about the genuine coyote fur throws the Hudsons Bay was selling at $3600 a pop.

I was approached the other day in Pacific Centre by some irritating bearded millennial who asked me if I knew the story behind my Canada Goose coat.

‘What story are you referring to?” I asked.

“Oh that’s real fur on your jacket. Doesn’t that upset you” He muttered through his beard.

I responded by saying ‘Oh Whatever’ and kept on going. I had no witty or clever retort for this guy. Like the usual “well you know the shoes your wearing are leather. How do feel about the cow that died”

I’d like to know what this bearded weirdo millenial would have thought about the Bay selling genuine coyote fur throw blankets at $3600 each. When I heard about it I was pretty upset. I brought a beautiful faux blanket back from Paris that looked like the real thing. Why would anyone support the Hudson Bay killing Coyotes and making them into blankets?

Genuine Coyote Blanket

I even asked a couple of their sales staff about these genuine coyote throws in the bedding department at Oakridge. One salesman gave me a great big smile and proudly announced that they were all sold out.

“And you don’t think there’s anything wrong with that?” I said.

All I got were blank stares. Obviously he didn’t.

Where’s that bearded weirdo when I needed him.

See you next time.

Mark LaFleur

5,000 Antique Photographs Discovered in an Attic

Between 1900 and 1930, a poor and destitute seed pedlar took more than five thousand photographs of daily life in an isolated valley of the Italian-speaking Swiss territory to the south of the Alps. Roberto Donetta can now be considered one of Swiss photography’s great outsider artists, but when he died in debt, solitude and misery in 1932, while his household belongings were auctioned off, his life’s work was of interest to no one. For more than 30 years, thousands of glass plates and original prints were forgotten in the attic of his town parish, preserved merely by chance.

The photographer - Robert Donetta C.1900

The photographer – Robert Donetta C.1900

In a class with Brassai or Cartier Bresson, Donetta never achieved fame or fortune with his extraordinary work. It’s crisp, clear images provide us with a look into the past of a village in Switzerland at the end of the 19th Century.Crisp, high quality, powerful and penetrating, Donetta’s images are much more than a historical documentation of village life in Switzerland. The unlikely photographer was a unique chronicler who clearly saw himself as an artist, even if life’s circumstances wouldn’t allow it. Born to humble beginnings in the Blenio Valley in Ticino, one of the poorest regions in Switzerland, Roberto Donetta was forced to emigrate, like most of his countrymen. He went to Northern Italy to sell chestnuts on the streets and later even immigrated to London for a year where he worked as a seed salesman.

donetta-h-web

He had married young at the age of 21, and had seven children to feed and provide for. Somewhere along the way, he met a sculptor, Dionigi Sorgesa, who in addition to teaching him the basics, gave him a camera. Making a living as a travelling photographer and seed salesman, he eventually found his way back to Switzerland, settling in the Casserio of Corzoneso where captured his compatriots in all facets of everyday life. Butchers and blacksmiths joking around at work, families attending funeral processions, children playing in the forest– the theatre of his life.

Donetta family portrait. The only out of focus photo he took in his collection.

Donetta family portrait. The only out of focus photo he took in his collection.

Donetta never got to own his own studio. He moved around with a plate camera and portable backdrops through the valley and barely made ends meet making picture postcards. When he died, Roberto owed money to many of the town’s locals who had help support him throughout his economic hardships. His wife and family had abandoned him and moved to France years ago, but he was obviously well-liked within his community. When the Commune of Corzoneso held an auction of his belongings to retrieve some of the expenses that helped keep him afloat in his last years, his remarkable collection of photography was ironically the only thing they couldn’t sell for any value.

Have a look at the following photos. They are wonderful.

13

17-1

bildschirmfoto-2015-06-08-um-14-14-55

donetta-j-web

donetta_female-workers-web1

donetta_four-children-in-leafs-bleniotal-web1

donetta_portrait-of-a-boy-bleniotal-web

donetta_roberto-and-linda-donetta-with-their-children-brigida-and-saulle-web

donetta-a-web

donetta-c-web

donetta-combo-web2

donetta-d-web1-1

donetta-e-web

donetta-n-web

ein-hochzeitspaar-web-1

roberto-donetta-photographer-and-seed-salesman-from-bleniotal-04

By the look on this poor fellows face, one can only imagine how uncomfortable those starched collars were.

By the look on this poor fellows face, one can only imagine how uncomfortable those starched collars were.

La Samaritane Scheduled to Reopen

For years, one of the world’s most iconic and historic department stores sat empty along the banks of the Seine in Paris; an imposing ghostly shell of former retail splendour, a giant sleeping elephant in the room occupying prime real estate in the heart of the city.

When I heard that renovation works were finally set to begin again after numerous false starts and lengthy delays I was pleased. It was a beautiful building that deserved ressurection.

The Art Nouveau Splendor Palace.

The Art Nouveau Splendor Palace.

I remember shopping at the Samaritaine before it closed. It had grown old and dingy even then, but it did have everything and anything. I think I was looking for fabric or something. When I learned the icon of Parisian shopping was closing it confirmed the sad state of trying to run a business under the current bureaucratic nightmare of a government in France. I was pleased to learn it was reopening under the umbrella of the fashion giant LVMH, spearheaded by French billionaire Bernard Arnault. (He owns most of the fashion houses in Europe now, including Dior, Louis Vuitton, Celine and too many to list). At least Arnault knows how to operate under the system that’s bleeding the country dry and still make money.

Mon. Arnault

Mon. Arnault

The origins of La Samaritaine is another rags to riches story. The founder Ernest Cognacq, started out his career selling ties under a red umbrella on the Pont Neuf, until 1869, when he heard about a space for let in a petite room next to a café he frequented on the nearby Rue de la Monnaie. He took the offer, opened a small clothing boutique and recruited his wife as his first employee, who had been working as a saleswoman in the confectionary aisles at Le Bon Marché. I wonder if the couple knew then that the famous department store where she left her job would come to be their greatest competitor.

07ruecognacqjay01

By the dawn of the twentieth century, just thirty years on from Cognacq’s humble beginnings as a smalltime tradesman on the Seine, the couple had expanded their enterprise, giving birth to the large edifice seen today, the “Grands Magasins de La Samaritaine”.

samaritaine8

A clever and ambitious businessman, he steadily acquired neighbouring buildings around him and soon enough, entire city blocks were being reworked and reconstructed to make space for his growing empire.

samaritaine3

La Samaritaine was an art nouveau palace of retail, the ideally organised and managed department store, arranged as a collection of individually owned stores, each managed by “petits patrons” that operated in harmony but autonomously.

samaritaine11

Cognacq used revolutionary marketing techniques, attracting the crowds with “deal of the day” and started doing what might seem obvious to us today– price-labelling the items.

samaritaine18

La Samaritaine became Paris’ leading department store and was at its peak during the interwar period, when nearly 20,000 people were under its employ.

samaritaine19-1

It occupied four buildings between the river and the rue de Rivoli, living up to the famous slogan later coined for the department store; “On trouve tout à la Samaritaine” – One can find everything in La Samaritaine.”

samaritaine22-1

There was even a gymnasium and a nursery. That’s something you won’t find in the chic Vancouver ‘Nordstroms’!

samaritaine21

I will look forward to the opening of the new Samaratine. They promise to leave all the Art Nouveau splendor that went into building the original palace of luxury shopping. Maybe it will be that way again maybe it won’t. We’ll see now won’t we.

Cheers,

Mark

How Antiques Amp Up a Contemporary Space.

This week on the premier website 1 Dibs, an article was published “How Antiques Amp Up a Contemporary Space”. I’ve pulled the article and reposted on my website. The writer is Cara Greenberg and here is her article below. But I’ve been saying this for years now, and really any good interior designer or decorator already knows this.

How Antiques Amp Up a Contemporary Space.
By Cara Greenberg.

Antiques add drama — and ­more than a little gravitas — to contemporary interiors. Top talents reveal how they pull off the balancing act.

Call it the X factor: the unexpected juxtaposition of decorative elements that lifts a contemporary interior out of the ordinary and makes people sit up and take notice. Often, it’s the insertion of one or more well-chosen antiques, thoughtfully deployed against the clean lines of contemporary furnishings, that makes the whole setting pop. “Antiques are the element of surprise in a contemporary space,” says Los Angeles– and New York–based interior designer Alexandra Loew.

Alexandra Lowe

Alexandra Lowe

“Antiques are a great foil to chic-but-clinical newness,” is how James “Ford” Huniford, of Huniford Design Studio in New York’s Greenwich Village, puts it. “They can keep a contemporary interior from looking like a sterile showroom.”

James Huniford

James Huniford

It wasn’t until the last few decades of the 20th century that mixing styles and periods became acceptable, and then de rigueur. Prior to that, people lived with whatever was, for them, modern in its truest sense — “of the moment,” whether the moment was Louis XIV, Colonial or high Victorian. The early 20th century saw revivals of classical styles, the birth of the modernist movement and the swoops and amoeboid shapes of the immediate postwar years. By the 1960s, when the typical contemporary room was white and spare, with furnishings predicated on the right angle, some design mavericks began bringing in Tiffany lamps and bentwood rockers to leaven the mix.

This lovely Louis XVI Console is just at home in a contemporary setting as in a classic. Only this one was produced in France and has an enduring look and quality that will last for ever.

This lovely Louis XVI Console is just at home in a contemporary setting as in a classic. Only this one was produced in France and has an enduring look and quality that will last for decades.

Today, with websites making global shopping possible, the whole of decorative-arts history is fair game for those seeking to create interesting interiors, which can incorporate every style and period from antiquity to the present day. But a delicate balancing act is required. Many top designers selectively use antiques in otherwise contemporary settings to add drama and enliven their schemes. Examples of this are located on our ‘inspiration’ page of our website.

Louis XVI chairs like these were sold by us to Interior Decorator Superstar Nate Berkus who used them in one of his design projects just this past year.

Louis XVI chairs like these were sold by us to Interior Decorator Superstar Nate Berkus who used them in one of his design projects just this past year.

I love the use of the bureau bookcase and the 60's maison bague style table  in this modern bathroom.

I love the use of the bureau bookcase and the 60’s maison bague style table in this modern bathroom.

This beautiful French Farm table makes this contemporary space look simple and elegant.

This beautiful French Farm table makes this contemporary space look simple and elegant.

So you have it. Mix an antique for drama and style. But you and I already knew that-

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.
Please visit our website

We ship worldwide.

Cote de Boeuf

For all you vegetarians out there, this is not a blog you’ll find particularly interesting. But to my fellow carnivores, you will love this! A week or so ago a friend invited me out to dinner. We chose the relatively new ‘Umbertos’ as neither of us had been yet.

th

There I was, all dressed and feeling fabulous, car so sparkling clean it was blinding. I pulled up to the front of Umberto’s and handed the valet my keys.

“Excuse me Sir…just so you know” said the Valet “You drove up the bicycle lane”

“What” I said “Oh I’m so sorry, I thought it was the entrance to the Restaurant”

Meanwhile a group of outdoor diners were laughing as I spun around to check for ‘bicycle lane’ signs.

“But there’s no signs” I said “This is all very confusing”

“Don’t worry” said the valet “You’re not the first to do it.”

“So if I’m not the first, then why hasn’t something been done to fix the problem” I thought to myself

“Have a nice dinner” said the Valet as I hurried by a group of smirking onlookers.

I arrived early so I had a chance to peruse the menu. I found something that raised the taste buds to a standing attention. They called it ‘Fiorentino’ but I had a hunch it might be what the French call a ‘Cote de Boeuf’ (Cut of Beef). The description was right but I had to know exactly. No other restaurant in Vancouver that I’ve been to has ever produced a real ‘Cote de Boeuf’. What is a Cote de Boeuf you might ask. Picture this, a 38oz bone in cut of porterhouse steak roasted to perfection then sliced in manageable and edible portions.

Cote de Boeuf - Parisian style.

Cote de Boeuf – Parisian style.

I asked my waiter about the dish and he knew exactly what a Cote de Bouef was. He confirmed that it was their version but it was virtually the same thing. I couldn’t wait. In fact, when my dinner guest arrived I insisted we order the dish. It was perfectly done! Nice and rare and enough for four people, let alone two. In fact, we never finished the whole thing.

I’m not promoting Umberto, although I think he deserves it. I’ve been going to Umbertos since my early 20’s when he was the only restaurant in town that would allow me to bring my royal black standard poodle along with me to dinner. (If any of you remember the Mark James clothing store for men on Broadway, Mark had a couple of them lumbering around his store.) (Also, just to mention, I did not and never did have the ‘pom pom’ cut on my dog..)

My dog Sebastian looked exactly like the bigger of the two dogs only completely black.

My dog Sebastian looked exactly like the bigger of the two dogs only completely black. I would strap him into the front seat of my car with my seatbelt and onlookers thought there was a passenger in the car.

Yes, I know there are more hip and trendy places, but frankly, anyone that can make Lobster bisque (to perfection) and a ‘Cote de Boeuf’, deserves to be mentioned. (Even if the loud and self entitled table next to me were so obnoxious that my dinner guest and I had to literally shout to talk to each other). There’s nothing more annoying and frankly we hurried our dinner just to get away from these people. Ugh!

Seriously, other people are trying to enjoy their dinner and talk without shouting at each other.

Seriously, other people are trying to enjoy their dinner and talk without shouting at each other.

That’s one difference (among many) that I love about dining in Paris. (unless it’s a bar or bistro) people respect other peoples space and would never raise their voices to attract attention.

The interior of Il Giardino

The interior of Il Giardino

In any event, if you’re looking for something special and you love meat, I highly recommend a trip to Umbertos. But arrive hungry you’ll need the room.

Bon Appetit

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

See you next week!

See you next week!

Club Michou, Paris.

Mention Chez Michou to any Parisian and they all know it. It’s been around since the swinging 60’s when it was hip and impossible to get into. The second night after we arrived my best friend Simon said “Great you’re here..we’re going to Chez Michou and you must come…I’ll get you some tickets” At 150E a ticket he was being most generous. (I did offer to pay but he refused.)

Now Chez Michou is really nothing more than a crowded, impossible to get into, female impersonator club. The show was amazing, the food, well, mediochre at best. But then again, it is a club, not a restaraunt.

Club Michou, Paris legend since the 1960's. It was completely packed on the Monday night we went.

Club Michou, Paris legend since the 1960’s. It was completely packed on the Monday night we went.

Club Michou requires months in advance for reservations. It’s been like that for decades. So to get in last minute was something I wouldn’t pass on. I turned to my Nephew and asked him if he packed a jacket for going out.

“No” he said.

“Well” I said “Lets go shopping.”

I bought him a new sports jacket (short cropped very tight at the waist that can only be worn by 22 year olds with 18″ waists) shirt, pants, shoes, and flew him down to a great salon I knew to get his hair ‘Parisianized’. I told him just sit back relax! They know what they’re doing. They trimmed his beard (thank God) and redid his hair.

He’s such a good kid he listened to his uncle Mark and within minutes he was ‘Voila un Parisian’. The cut was beautiful, he looked totally French and I was completely satisfied with my creation. I was a stylist years ago when I was very young. I worked on the lead actor of the dreadful movie that has now has a cult following “The Evil Dead”. My long time New York friend, Lauren was the publicist and she asked me if I’d style the lead actor. We now laugh at the ‘popularity’ of this movie and frankly are slightly embarrassed we had anything to do with it.

FullSizeRender (275x500)

Anyway, by 8 we were at my friend Simons for champagne and appetizers and waiting for a private black van to take us to one of the most legendary clubs in Paris. The private black Mercedes arrived, packed us in, and up we went to the Montmartre district of Paris. We entered the club without waiting a second, (there was a line) and were greeted by charming albeit half drag queen, and shown to Michou’s table for a hello. We couldn’t help noticing that every celebrity’s photo from the 1960’s to now were covering the walls.

Michou immediately insisted we have a photo taken with him by his photographers. We found out later they were 20E a piece and it was nothing about being special.

MIchou with the fabulous Regine, famous for her hip nightclubs of the 80's.

MIchou with the fabulous Regine, famous for her hip nightclubs of the 80’s.

Our 'family' portrait with Jackson and I in the middle standing next to Julie, Stany, The bottom row is their daughter Ana Kim, Mother Aimee, Michou, Simon and Gabrielle.

Our ‘family’ portrait with Jackson and I in the middle standing next to Julie, Stany, The bottom row is their daughter Ana Kim, Mother Aimee, Michou, Simon and Gabrielle.

These two were there that night.

These two were there that night.

Don’t even think of getting out of Michou until way past 1 am. Their impersonations of Grace Jones, and Celine Dion sent shivers from the realism of the production. Jackson and I didn’t get home until past 3 and we had to be out the door by 9 am. That my friends what being Parisian is all about. Party all night, and work (for part of the day anyway).

Amazing Celine Dion impersonation, if you like Celine that is. They all adore her in Paris.

Amazing Celine Dion impersonation, if you like Celine that is. They all adore her in Paris.

The club is bright red inside and stays that way until you leave.

Chez Michou is cramped, small inside, and the food was not that great.  But the floorshow was amazing. When Grace Jones came on I thought I was dreaming. (or having a nightmare)

Chez Michou is cramped, small inside, and the food was not that great. But the floorshow was amazing. When Grace Jones came on I thought I was dreaming. (or having a nightmare)

In any event, I hope you enjoyed this blog. Chez Michou is a fun place but I don’t know that it’s for everyone. The performers spoke in nothing but French so much of it was lost as they spoke in slang and very quickly

In any event, I want to thank my friend Simon and Julie for inviting us. We had a truly Parisian Experience.

Thanks

See you next week!

See you next week!

July 14th ‘Bastille Day’. Not a Celebration for Everyone in France.

“Is this a revolt?” asked Louis XVI to the Duke of Rochefoucauld, to which he replied:
“No Sire, THIS is a revolution.”

Duke de Rochefoucauld C.1790.

Duke de Rochefoucauld C.1790.

King Louis XVI would be dead in less than 6 months later.

King Louis XVI would be dead in less than 6 months later.

Rochefoucauld, one of King Louis XVI’s most trusted counsellor pronounced those ominous words on July 12, 1789. Two days later, the royal fortress of Bastille,a symbol of despotism, was attacked marking the beginning of the French Revolution. Only 7 people were jailed at the Bastille at the time making it less of an ‘event’ but certainly symbolic nevertheless.

The tide of patriotic fervour led to the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’ and of the Citizen. “Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights.” Nations around the world modelled their bill of rights after this now universal sentence. It’s little wonder that France’s national holiday, le quatorze juillet (14th of July), is world famous.

Every year, since 1880, Bastille Day’s notoriety is matched by festivities and pomp honouring the republic to the rhythm of the national anthem ‘La Marseillaise’.

The storming of the Bastille freed all the prisoners on July 14, 1789.

The storming of the Bastille freed the prisoners on July 14, 1789.

But not everyone shares quite the same opinion of Bastille Day. It all depends to whom you talk.

I’ve spoken to French, particularly upper crust Parisians, who think Bastille Day is an unfortunate event that symbolized a change for the worse for France. The day when the elegant society people fled for their lives and the lower classes seized control.

The royal Flight to Varennes during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution during which King Louis XVI of France, his wife Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family attempted unsuccessfully to escape from Paris in order to initiate a counter-revolution at the head of loyal troops under royalist officers concentrated at Montmédy near the frontier. Their escape only led them as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.

The royal Flight to Varennes during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution during which King Louis XVI of France, his wife Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family attempted unsuccessfully to escape from Paris. Their escape only led them as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.

In fact, one such Parisian went so far as to tell me that Bastille Day was the day King Louis XVI was beheaded, and not a day for celebration at all. He got his dates mixed up. King Louis XVI execution was a sad day, particularly for King Louis and his family, but it didn’t take place until January of the following year.

On January 20, 1793, the National Convention condemned Louis XVI to death, his execution scheduled for the next day. Louis spent that evening saying goodbye to his wife and children. The following day dawned cold and wet. Louis arose at five. At eight o'clock a guard of 1,200 horsemen arrived to escort the former king on a two-hour carriage ride to his place of execution. Accompanying Louis, at his invitation, was a priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth, an Englishman living in France. Edgeworth recorded the event . A complete and sad narration of the entire event is recorded for posterity.

On January 20, 1793, the National Convention condemned Louis XVI to death, his execution scheduled for the next day. Louis spent that evening saying goodbye to his wife and children. The following day dawned cold and wet. Louis arose at five. At eight o’clock a guard of 1,200 horsemen arrived to escort the former king on a two-hour carriage ride to his place of execution. Accompanying Louis, at his invitation, was a priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth, an Englishman living in France. Edgeworth recorded the event almost word for word.

When you consider some of the facts above, and the 10 year bloody revolution that occurred after Bastille Day, it’s understandable why some Parisians are not as enamoured with Bastille Day as others. This ‘Reign of Terror’ as it’s commonly known was responsible for more than 40,000 deaths.

But even more than that, France has become a country full of desperately unhappy people.

The freedom and equality of all men and women, the basis of the French Charter of Rights, is what every Westernized society aspires to. But to many French this is not the reality of life at all. There are still distinct class systems, laws to oppress and a bloated inefficient government bureaucracy that is taxing everyone to death, causing another ‘quiet revolution’ as the super rich French flee in droves to become ‘non-residents’ of France.

But almost all French, what ever their status in life, love holidays, and Bastille Day is just another event in the long string of holidays that seem to occur almost every weekend in France.

Most Parisians I know will disappear for the holiday (this year it’s four days). Or if they remain in Paris, they’ll have an elegant little Champagne sipping cocktail party (only if they have a terrace with a view of the Tour Eiffel) where they can view the event and the masses below.

The fireworks are spectacular. The French really go all out. The fireworks are also paired with wonderful music, projected images on the Eiffel tower and more. It’s quite something to experience.

A shot of the spectacle taken from the Champs des Mars directly in front of the Tour Eiffel.

A shot of the spectacle taken from the Champs des Mars directly in front of the Tour Eiffel.

If you’re super pumped about fireworks you can join the 500,000 or so Parisians, tourists and suburbanites that have jam packed the Champs de Mars for a front and center view of the whole thing. It’s a gong show with people recording, snapping iphones, drinking way too much, and yelling and screaming. It’s not really my thing.

The crowd at the Champs de Mars is already jammed before the sun has even set. People pack food, alcohol and more and sit for hours waiting for the event.

The crowd at the Champs de Mars is already jammed before the sun has even set. People pack food, alcohol and more and sit for hours waiting for the event.

Anyway, if you’re Parisian and lucky, you’ll be able to leave the sizzling baking streets of Paris for the Bastille Day holiday and head to relaxing retreats such as a country house, either as owner, renter or guest of, or one of the many beach resorts, or simply just out of Paris to a nice hotel in the country. But if you haven’t booked literally months ahead, anything good is already gone.

A summer rental in Carcasonne France can rental from 390E a week to 1400E depending on the number of people in your party.

A summer rental in Carcasonne France can rent from 390E a week to 1400E depending on the number of people in your party.

No smart Parisian will ever leave on the Friday afternoon before Bastille Day. It’s a mass exodus that can take literally hours. There are some of the worst traffic accidents of the year that occur on the super highways of France during this period. Accidents that can literally have the highways blocked leaving Holidaying French people stranded for literally hours and hours. It’s what the French call a ‘couchemar’ or nightmare. I know, we’ve been stranded like this before.

Photo of one of France's main highways the A-7 on a holiday weekend.

Photo of one of France’s main highways the A-7 on a holiday weekend.

For some Parisians, this ‘holiday’ signifies the beginning of the summer holidays which will last well into September. They literally shut off their cel phones, and relax for over 6 weeks. For the more well heeled Parisians, they’ve already shut off their phones since the middle of June. I’m quite serious, you cannot get ahold of anybody and business, other than retail, grinds to a halt.

I always used to say “I’m going to Canada for the holidays” which for some Parisians (that didn’t realize I was Canadian) would generate an “Oh Genial” which translated means something like ‘Oh how great’!

All French love and adore Canada and Canadians. They think we’re the nicest people in the world and will go on endlessly about Montreal or Lake Louise. I guess when you compare us to just about anyone else, we are pretty special. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to foray myself into interesting social circles. I’m kind of exotic, like an imported car, and my accent (which I thought was perfect French until a Parisian laughed and assured me it wasn’t) is apparently adorable. 🙂

And of course, where else in the world is nicer than Vancouver in the summer. Maybe Capri, or Il de Re, but even then, Vancouver’s pretty hard to beat.

The beaches of Il de Re...I guarantee you none will be deserted like this during this Bastille Day celebrations.

The beaches of Il de Re…I guarantee you none will be deserted like this during this Bastille Day celebrations.

If you’re visiting Paris and want to experience Bastille Day here is the following agenda for this July 14, 2015.

The July 14th military parade will be the highpoint of the national holiday ceremonies. The parade will highlight the regiments of the French military, which will start in the morning at 10 am on ave. Friedland and an address from the President of France.

The Bastille Day Parade down the Champs Elysees in Paris.

The Bastille Day Parade down the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Firemans Ball- The Sapeurs et Pompiers of Paris have evening Balls at each and every fire station in Paris and the surrounding areas. I actually bought a ticket from a fireman just the other week as I thought it was for charity, until I discovered it was an invitation to a ball.

The fireman of the 'Auteuil' district of Paris near where I live. To all the ladies out there, the firemen of Paris are reputed to be among the most handsome anywhere.

The fireman of the ‘Auteuil’ district of Paris near where I live. To all the ladies out there, the firemen of Paris are reputed to be among the most handsome anywhere.

And then there’s the fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower. It’s guaranteed to be a show stopping event. Have a look at this You-Tube link if you like, to see it in person. This is the 2009 display which I saw that I thought was the most interesting. It was the first time they’d ever implemented the use of laser projectors. The effect was dazzling. (Please note, this is part 2 of the entire evening and was just the prelude. It hadn’t even got dark yet. That’s when the sky really exploded!)

Here is a video of this years celebrations which took place last Tuesday.

Happy July 14th to all my friends in France.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.

Please visit my website

Loulou…the hip new resto in Paris.

Rendezvous in the jardins des Tuileries gardens, at the heart of the new dining room of the Arts Décoratifs restaurant, instead of the The gang from Monsieur Bleu (one of the most fabulous terraces in Paris) has succeeded in making this into the hot Parisian rendezvous that this wing of the Louvre deserved: a stunning decor signed Joseph Dirand, all in marble, Saarinen chairs, 60s and Art Deco details with an incredible view overlooking Paris.

The Monsieur Bleu Team

The Monsieur Bleu Team

À la carte. Really delicious socialite dishes concocted by Benoît Dargère that suit all appetites, twigs as well as big eaters. Concretely: a real vitello (22€) tonnato just like the mamma makes it: FANTASTICO ! To be noted: a great squid salad (18€) and remarkable courgette flower fritters (18€). For those who like them: truly amazing slightly glazed stuffed tomatoes (23€). Pastas? nec plus ultra alle vongole (25€). For the classics: burrata to share (30€), truffle pizza (26€) and a tiramisu just as we like it (13€).

The interior of Loulou...looking a little 1970's inspired to me.

The interior of Loulou…looking a little 1970’s inspired to me.

Who do you run into? The chic Paris in-crowd and pretty cocottes who like to see and be seen. The fashion heavies (Alexis Mabille and consorts) the friends of the owners (Gilles Malafosse, Laurent de Gourcuff) also show up here. And for sure it will be the hottest place to be during the next fashion-weeks!

Special kudos to the terrace with a jaw dropping view of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre pyramid with an outdoor bar.

I plan to have a look at give you my unbiased and sometimes slightly cheeky impression.

I guess if you hit Paris before I do have a look and let me know.

The super deco apartment of Jeanne Lanvin is on display at the Musee des Arts Decoratives at the Louvre.

The super deco apartment of Jeanne Lanvin is on display at the Musee des Arts Decoratives at the Louvre.

Oh, and absolutely do a tour through the Arts Decoratifs museum when you get a chance. It’s fabulous. Furniture from as early as the time of man, right up to designers of the 20th Century. It’s sensational ( an complete apartment interior of Jeanne Lanvin is on display from the 1930’s). It’s super glam.

Cheers,

Mark

Me 2015

Me 2015

Queen Nefertiti’s Tomb Found?

There is nothing more exciting then discovering buried treasure. It’s stuff that dreams are made of.

Making headlines last December was the potential discovery of the lost and one of the most famous Queens of Egypt. Every time something is discovered in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, the whispers begin. Is it the queen? Has she finally been found? Is it Queen Cleopatra they’re talking about? No, they’re asking about Queen Nefertiti, the legendary beauty who was married to one of ancient Egypt’s strangest pharaohs. Her burial site has never been found, and its location is one of the enduring mysteries in Egyptology.

Nefertiti in Egyptian means 'the beautiful one'. This wonderful bust of this legendary queen was made more than 3000 years ago and is on display in a Berlin museum.

Nefertiti in Egyptian means ‘the beautiful one’. This wonderful bust of this legendary queen was made more than 3000 years ago and is on display in a Berlin museum. Some experts claim it is replica and not ancient as claimed.

The actual location of this beautiful Queen’s tombs may have been lying in plain view the whole time an archaeologist has claimed. The buzz is now as loud as ever, as scans of King Tut’s tomb indicate there may be hidden chambers behind sections of walls. Questions have inevitably arisen about possible links to Nefertiti, and whether archaeologists will peek behind the walls to find room after room filled with the dazzling grave goods of the long-lost queen. According to new research, the long-sought final resting place of Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti may lie beyond two hidden doorways inside the tomb of King Tutankhamun.

Dazzling treasures of Nefertiti may eclipse the find by Howard Carter 100 years ago.

Dazzling treasures of Nefertiti may eclipse the find by Howard Carter 100 years ago.

The discovery was made by Nicholas Reeves, an English archaeologist at the University of Arizona, after poring over high-resolution digital scans of the walls of Tutankhamun’s grave complex in the Valley of the Kings.

Nicholas Reeves in the Valley of the Kings.

Nicholas Reeves in the Valley of the Kings.


In a research paper published online, Dr Reeves claims to have found a bricked-up and hitherto unnoticed portal leading out of the celebrated king’s burial chamber.
“The implications are extraordinary, if digital appearance translates into physical reality,” he wrote. “Within these uncharted depths an earlier royal interment – that of Nefertiti herself.”

Her riches if the tomb has been undisturbed could be fabulous and far outweigh in importance and value to those of King Tut.

King Tut's tomb is much smaller than any of the other kings, with plain walls and not much decoration until you reach the burial chamber. It took almost a decade of meticulous and painstaking work to empty the tomb of Tutankhamen. Around 3500 individual items were recovered. Tutankhamen is the only pharaoh, in the valley of the kings, still to have his mummy in its original burial location.

King Tut’s tomb is much smaller than, any of the other kings tombs, with plain walls, until you reach the burial chamber. It took almost a decade of meticulous and painstaking work to empty the tomb of Tutankhamen. Around 3500 individual items were recovered. Tutankhamen is the only pharaoh, in the valley of the kings, still to have his mummy in its original burial location.

Archaeologists have long searched for the lost burial place of the slender-necked queen, who was the chief consort of the pharaoh Akhenaten in the 14th Century BC. The apparent gravity of the new research underscores the role that modern technology can play in bringing new discoveries to light.

A digital remake of the actual face of Akhenaten

A digital remake of the actual face of Akhenaten


In the research paper, Dr Reeves praises the work of Factum Arte, the Madrid-based group whose open source mapping of the site made the discovery of Nefertiti’s apparent “ghosts” possible.
“Conservators anywhere in the world are now able with ease to scrutinise and consider the paintings: every crack, blemish, and technical feature,” he wrote.

Tutankhamun’s tomb was first uncovered by English archaeologist Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. The discovery resonated throughout an incredulous world and fascinates audiences to this day.

Howard Carter in the actual tomb

Howard Carter in the actual tomb

Howard Carter, an English Egyptologist, had a hunch that Tutankhamen lay beneath the Valley of the Kings even though conventional archeological wisdom declared that all the area’s tombs had been found. In 1914, supported by his British benefactor Lord Carnarvon, Carter began his search in earnest. For seven years his efforts bore no fruit. In November 1922, during the last season of exploration that Lord Carnarvon said he could support, Carter’s luck changed. His Egyptian laborers uncovered a series of steps leading down to a sealed door.

In any event the rest is history. He made one of the most exciting egyptian discoveries of all time. In fact this discovery even influenced furniture design, clothing, hairstyles, entertainment and more.

An Egyptian Art Deco inspired interior C.1920's.

An Egyptian Art Deco inspired interior C.1920’s.

Egyptian Revival Art Deco Bangle C.1925

Egyptian Revival Art Deco Bangle C.1925

Graumanns first theatre was built during the Egyptmania obsession of 1922. He opened the Chinese theatre some years later.

Graumanns first theatre was built during the Egyptomania obsession of 1922 and it was here held the first movie premier was held.

Interior of Graumanns Egyptian Theatre C.1920's

Interior of Graumanns Egyptian Theatre C.1920’s

Egyptian Revival is always showy, with lots of style. The exceptional pieces can be breathtaking and command high prices on the market. I have an Egyptian Revival clock set C.1930 that I bought many years ago in Paris. I still love it, and would be hard pressed to part with it.

Thanks for Reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver.

Please visit our website if you love French antiques and vintage furniture…we ship everywhere!

Chateau Versailles to Open Restaurant and Hotel.

In case you missed it on CTV the other night, The Chateau Versailles, home to the last King and Queen of France will be opening a restaurant and hotel in a part of Chateau that as yet undisclosed.

The Palace of Versailles Hall of Mirrors.

The Palace of Versailles Hall of Mirrors.

Once the lavish playground of French royalty like Marie Antoinnette and Louis XIV, the massive Palace of Versailles, currently a tourist attraction, is known for its architecture, art exhibitions and gardens. Recently, the board of directors voted to expand the palace’s appeal by renting out part of the castle as a boutique hotel and restaurant run by super chef Alain Ducasse. Smart move those Directors of Versailles. That will surely bring in a tidy income in addition to the 1.5M visitors ticket sales each year.

The famed Alain Ducasse

The famed Alain Ducasse

The hotel, run by the LOV Hotel Collection, will include twenty guest rooms, a spa and an underground swimming pool. The style will be in keeping with the setting I’m guessing with lots of gold leaf, mirrors and marble. No word as of yet on Ducasse’s plans for the restaurant, but you can be assured it will be top.

Yes, well be that is it may I don’t have any immediate plans to dine or stay at the Palace of Versailles. Why? This nouveau hotel and restaurant will attract every gucci wearing self entitled bad behavioured foreign tourist on the planet. Parisians aren’t impressed, I know, I mentioned the Versailles Project and jokes of ‘theres nothing to see but snobby old penniless gentry that hobble along on their walkers and canes with their noses so high up in the air they can’t even see where they’re going’. “And besides” said my friend Jeff “There’s nothing to see or do in Versailles city. It’s boring. Sure the Palace is worth the visit, but there’s no shortage of Chateaux in France, and many much more charming than Versailles” He makes a good point although Larry and I love visiting the the Kings ‘Potager’ garden every year. (It’s no where near the Palace itself)

This type of tourist is what makes the residents of Versailles want to gag when their not doing so from old age.

With over 1.5 M. tourists like this each year pouring out of two block long tour busses it’s little wonder the residents of Versailles wish the Chateau would evaporate into thin air and take these people with them.

The hotel at Versailles does have a glimmer of hope though. I know the LOV hotel chain very well, and they represent some of the most charming authentically ‘French’ hotels in France. One of my favorite being in the South of France. Precisely ‘Le Bastide de Gordes’ in the mindblowingly picturesque hillside village of Gordes. This is all located in one of the most beautiful areas of the south of France…The Luberon valley.

We had the Easter Brunch at ‘La Bastide’ and it was a dining event. It’s not for the budget conscious mind you, but it WAS worth every single solitary Euro we paid. (as I recall it was 190E a piece for the set brunch menu). Not an English speaking tourist in sight, the dinner was beyond fabulous and it’s memory will be forever etched among ‘the most’ charming of French experiences ever.

The Bastide de Gordes dining salon.

The Bastide de Gordes dining salon.

La Bastide de Gordes at night on the hillside of the village of Gordes.

La Bastide de Gordes at night on the hillside of the village of Gordes.

It was also in Gordes that I convinced Larry we HAD to go to Easter mass at a 12th Century nearby Cisterian abbey known as the Abbaye de Senanque. I checked on my laptop for the Easter Mass hours and drove like mad (we were a tad late) through this winding road leading down into a valley where this breathtaking sight was located. This lovely simple Abbey surrounded by thousands of acres of lavender plants ( they weren’t in bloom yet as it was in March ).

The Cistercian Order finds its historical origin in Cîteaux, a French monastery founded in 1098 by a group of monks under the leadership of St. Robert of Molesme. St. Robert and his monks embraced a set of ideals popular among contemporary monastic reformers: among them were the desire for an effective balance between prayer and serious work, an emphasis on evangelical poverty and a detachment from worldly affairs, and a style of community life modeled on the apostles and first Christians. The monks to this day manufacture lavender and work the abbey themselves, leading a simple, materialistic free life. (Doesn’t sound so bad actually…living in a 12th century Building, cultivating lavender and living in one of most beautiful areas of France with no stress….where do I sign up!)

The Abbey des Citeaux founded in 1098.  You can see the differences in the simplicity of design which were intentionally done by the Cisterians of Abbey De Senanaque.

The Abbey des Citeaux founded in 1098. You can see the differences in the simplicity of design which were intentionally done by the Cisterians of Abbey De Senanaque.

The closer we got to the abbey the more confused we got. For Easter Mass there was hardly a car in sight nor person to behold anywhere. I thought for sure we had misread the posting and missed the entire mass. (which is very easy to do in France as nothing is ever posted correctly on the internet anyway..they simply don’t care)

Cistercian monastery of Senanque beside lavender field in the Provence Region of the Luberon near Gordes.

Cistercian monastery of Senanque beside lavender field in the Provence Region of the Luberon near Gordes.

I cursed a few harsh words at being late and said to Larry “Well, We’ve come all this way we might as well have a look inside this stupid thing”. It was a 12th Century building after all and that in itself was worth the visit. There’s not many of these around and it was a beautiful setting.

We entered this tiny church with a row of rushed seated old Provencal chairs (no pews) dotted with a handful of people just sitting and saying nothing. Not even praying or anything. We stood for a moment looking around and Larry had had enough after about 5 minutes.

There was something about the silence, simplicity and tranquility inside this beautiful old structure that held me captive. So instead of leaving I glided up to the front and sat down in the very first row of chairs. Larry having a minor meltdown behind me followed me and took a seat.

“Why do you always do this?” he asked “It makes me completely crazy”.

“Because I like to sit right up front and see the action, you know that” (I have an obsession with French churchs…they are a haven of meditation and beauty).

“Right, like the time we were in Italy and had taken some Countess are her families seats” said Larry. (We had done that actually or should I say I did that but only by mistake…It wasn’t intentional). It was Easter and we were in a small city called Greve just south of Florence. I sat at the very front of this tiny country church in the local Contessa’s pew who showed up late and gave us huffs and puffs and faces the entire service (conducted by a 103 year old priest who was wheeled out in a wheelchair who said three words and was quickly wheeled out for fear of heart failure.) We never understood a word, but the fact we were in the 100 and something year old tiny church in the middle of Italy was wonderful.It’s always the singing, the incense and solitude I find so beautiful.

The tiny little village of Greve in Chianti. Villa Vignamaggio is the place to stay about 5 minutes outside the village.

The tiny little village of Greve in Chianti. Villa Vignamaggio is the place to stay about 5 minutes outside the village.

That event partiuclary upset Larry that he’d never forgotten the embarrassment of that day.

“I don’t care if these chairs belong to anyone” I said “I’m here and they’re not. And besides pews are not reserved for anyone in particular in the Catholic faith unless they’re roped off. And these are not!

“I’ll be outta here in a nano second if anyone shows up wanting these” whispered Larry.

“Would you stop your fussing…if someone shows I’ll glady move, no problem”…they never did.

Being inside a building like this was very calming to the soul and any chance I can experience calm like that I gravitate toward it like a moth to flame. Poor Larry always humours me but he knew and appreciated exactly what I was talking about. It was then that the lights were turned totally off and we were thrown into pitch black darkness.

The interior of the abbey where Larry and I sat completely enveloped in darkness.

The interior of the abbey where Larry and I sat completely enveloped in darkness.

“Oh great” said Larry “If that’s not a hint for us to get out I don’t know what is.” There we sat not knowing what to do…whether to fumble along in the dark arms waving in front of us like two blind mice or wait until help came or the lights came on. Whichever came first. It was weird though that other people were not leaving, or even uttering a word. Then suddenly two doors opened on either side of the interior and out filed 10 cloaked monks holding candles. They formed two rows facing each other while they held their burning candles. It was magical.

Monastery_Garments-Cistercian

They began to chant until the entire abbey resonated with the vibrations of their voices. It was mesmerizing, spiritual, and the likes of which I’d ever experienced. The sound resonated throughout my body creating a feeling of euphoria and peace. For what seemed like hours suddenly stopped. One of the monks proceeded to the middle of the abbey and pulled on a rope that dangled from the ceiling which in turn rang one solitary church bell. It rang excatly three times. The monks then disappeared back through the doors where they’d appeared and the lights came back on and the doors open.

We both sat there spellbound for a few minutes until we actually left the building.

“I feel like I’ve been to heaven” I whispered to Larry as we left the church. “Me too” he said. We barely spoke for sometime afterwards as the experience remained within us for hours.

Anyway, that experience I will never forget and if you are lucky enough to visit the Luberon valley, the Abbey de Senanque is one of the most enchanting spots on this planet. And if you can time it when the lavender is in full bloom, there could be nothing more beautiful anywhere in the world.

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Please visit our website by clicking here.

Paris’s Answer to Studio 54 Reopens

This isn’t exactly hot-off-the-press news but about 1 year ago a legendary club reopened (after being abandoned for about 20 years.) While I was dancing my youth away at Studio 54 in NYC in the 1970’s, this hip Parisian sister club was becoming as legendary as Studio 54. I knew nothing about this club until a few years ago when my Parisian friends told me about ‘Les Bains Douches’ and all the goings on. Last year this iconic club recently reopened as a hotel, restaurant and night club. I also discovered some interesting photographs of the ‘crowd’ that haunted this legendary place back in it’s heyday. They say Les Bains was every bit as glamorous as Studio 54 as far as a star studded clientele went. I can’t say from personal experience as I spent most of my youth studying and glamorizing in New York City.

According to people who went to both clubs, nothing compared to Studio 54 anywhere in the world.

According to people who went to both clubs, nothing compared to Studio 54 anywhere, even Paris.

I had the great fortune of knowing the doorman at Studio 54 so I never had to wait in line or pay for anything. Mark Benecke would always hand me a stack of drink tickets and told me ‘to have fun’ as he gave me a pat and a wink.

Studio 54 doorman Mark Benecke perusing the breathless crowd dying to be chosen to enter.

Studio 54 doorman Mark Benecke perusing the breathless crowd dying to be the ‘chosen one’.

I remember dancing until 4 am with the likes of Mick and Bianca Jagger, Halston, Andy Warhol, then heading to class at Parsons for a gruelling day of study and work. Hey, I was 25 and had endless energy banks.

Me and girlfriend Julie Hewett, Los Angeles Make-up artist to the stars.  (Owner of JulieHewett.inc...a super chic on-line make-up and beauty product line)

Me and girlfriend Julie Hewett in NYC C.1975, getting ready for a night out at Studio. Julie is a reknowned Los Angeles Make-up artist to the stars. (Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Ryan Gosling etc. and has her own on-line line of beauty products known as Julie Hewett Los Angeles.

The fabulous Julie Hewett today. (We still burn up the phone lines talking about her famous clients, etc.)

The fabulous Julie Hewett today. (We still burn up the phone lines.)

Before Les Bains Douches (literally translated means ‘baths, showers’) became an icon of Parisian nightlife, it was Marcel Proust’s favourite bath house a century earlier. In 1978, it became Paris’ answer to Studio 54, overflowing with famous faces; a cultural institution fuelled by sex, drugs, disco … and midnight swimming. My good friend Jeff (whom I mention often in my blogs) told me all about the stars and the drugs during the early 80’s when he and his ‘posse’ played until dawn in the famous ‘Bains Douches’.

“Magnifique, Magique, Mythique”, writes one former patron describing Les Bains Douches, reminiscing over the photo gallery of the former nightclub’s resident photographer, Foc Kan. We’re looking at his raw photographs of the years he spent snapping the debaucherous goings on at the legendary night spot; years which he regards as the most exciting time of his life. It probably was for him. I know my time at Studio was for me.

The Entrance to the famous Les Bains Douches.

The Entrance to the famous Les Bains Douches.

Mick Jagger in the Bains Douche

Mick Jagger in the Bains Douche

Kan’s job was made easy by the endless list of celebrities that frequented Les Bains Douches– and we’re not talking stars of reality television, which the photographer believes is behind the demise of nightclub glamour. We’re talking real legends like Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Yves Saint-Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, all the 80s supermodels, Jack Nicholson, De Niro, Bowie, Prince, Johnny Depp when he was still dating Kate Moss and an underage Vanessa Paradis who would later become the mother of his children.

The iconic Katie Moss and Johnny Depp to the left.

The iconic super model Katie Moss and Johnny Depp to the left.

The bath house was first built in 1885 and run by the Guerbois family as one of the most famous thermal baths of the capital. Workers from the nearby market, Les Halles, would come early in the morning, after working all night to shower and drink coffee and calvados. For those who could afford it, the bathhouse was also a mecca of massage, offering sulphur and steam baths, both Turkish and Russian.

It was a very young Philippe Starck who was commissioned to transform the interior of the bathhouse into a nightclub, his second ever job as a budding designer. Spread over several floors, the venue had a bar and restaurant, but Starck kept the bathhouse tiling and even the baths as part of the décor, something that seems to still influence the designer today as he builds hotels and restaurants all around the world.

These famous faces need no introduction but just in case that Jack Nicholson,  Catherine Deneuve, Karl Lagerfeld, Linda Evangelista (Canadian Supermodel)

These famous faces need no introduction but just in case that Jack Nicholson, Catherine Deneuve, Karl Lagerfeld, Linda Evangelista (Canadian Supermodel)

Two decades later, Les Bains was forced to close down, but it wasn’t long until current owner, filmmaker Mr Jean-Pierre Marois came to the rescue. Four years of extensive work down the line, and Les Bains is finally back on stage in all its former gritty glitz and glory but with the added bonus of 39 guest rooms, completing the final part of its 130-year trilogy.

A junior suite at les Bains, Paris.  Reasonably priced for Paris at $300/night Cdn.

A junior suite at les Bains, Paris. Reasonably priced for Paris at $300/night Cdn.

In the blood red restaurant, artistic director Lars Krueger, formerly of well-known Parisian club Le Baron, was briefing his team and the restaurant staff, led by chef Michaël Riss (backed by three-Michelin star chef Philippe Labbé) were setting up while the bar tenders stocked the horseshoe shaped under-lit counter. “We’re also bringing back the glass Lalique bar from the place’s days as Les Bains Guerbois, before my father bought it,” Jean-Pierre Marois tells me as I take in the waves of the dramatic bulging red ceiling, a nudge to domed hammams, often a part of public baths. Behind Les Bains’ unique design, laced with references and in-jokes, is a team that includes Tristan Auer (Le Crillon Hotel, Paris) and RDAI (Le Plongeoir Hermès Paris flagship store).

The Lalique Bar at Bains Douches.

The Lalique Bar at Bains Douches.

The new Les Bains Douches as it looks 2016.

The new Les Bains Douches as it looks 2016.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this place it does have a website. Like every other French luxury website it’s a bit confusing, jumpy and unstable. Hey but that’s French. Visit Les Bains Douches here.

Thanks for Reading!

Mark 2015

Mark 2015

The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC V5M2R5

Please see our wonderful collection of Parisian and French Antiques.
We ship worldwide.

The Paris ‘Ritz’ to Re-Open this Month!

The name Ritz has been synonymous with luxury since that day when, more than a century ago, the hotel’s illustrious founder, Cesar Ritz, opened the doors. On the Place Vendome, The Ritz is central to the city’s great sights and includes special entities all its own: L’Espadon, for example, the restaurant with a wine cellar of more than 40,000 bottles. Or, the Ecole Ritz Escoffier, the ultimate cooking school in Paris. And the Ritz Health Club presents an oasis in the heart of Paris: the city’s largest indoor club to offer a pool, spa treatments, and fitness facilities.

Cesar Ritz

Cesar Ritz

César Ritz (23 February 1850 – 24 October 1918) was a Swiss hotelier and founder of several hotels, most famously the Hôtel Ritz in Paris and The Ritz Hotel in London. His nickname was “king of hoteliers, and hotelier to kings”

Ritz was born in the Swiss village of Niederwald, the youngest of 13 children to a poor peasant family. At the age of twelve he was sent as a boarder to the Jesuit college at Sion, and at fifteen, having shown only vaguely artistic leanings, was apprenticed as a sommelier at the hotel Victoria in Brig.

Hotel Victoria in Brig

Hotel Victoria in Brig

While working there as an apprentice wine waiter he was dismissed by the patron of the hotel from his position, saying, “You’ll never make anything of yourself in the hotel business. It takes a special knack, a special flair, and it’s only right that I tell you the truth—you haven’t got it.” He returned briefly to the Jesuits as a sacristan, then left to seek his fortune in Paris at the time of the 1867 Universal Exhibition.

In order to learn the restaurant business, Ritz got a job at the finest restaurant in Paris, the Voisin, until the Siege of Paris of 1870 caused shortages of food and fuel and put an end to Voisin’s business.

The only surviving remenent of the 'Voisin' hotel. A Menu for Christmas during the Seige of Paris in 1870.

The only surviving remnant of the ‘Voisin’ hotel. A Menu for Christmas during the Seige of Paris in 1870.

After the Franco-German War, Ritz worked as maitre d’hotel in the Hotel Splendide in Paris, where he again came in contact with the celebrated and the wealthy. He served as a guide to continental taste for such Americans as Cornelius Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan, who came to Paris in the 1870s.

When fashionable society moved on, Ritz decided to move with them. For the next few years, he worked in hotels in resort areas throughout Europe. From 1877 to 1887, Ritz managed the summer season at the luxurious Grand Hotel National in Lucerne, Switzerland.

A suite at the Grande Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland.

A suite at the luxurious Grande Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland.

It was then when Ritz moved on again (following the monied crowd to Monte Carlo) that he met the greatest chef of the time, Auguste Escoffier. (‘Ecole Escoffier’ at the Ritz is still considered one of the best cooking schools in the world)

The King of Chefs, Auguste Escoffier. They became partners in the hotel business at the Ritz in Paris.

The King of Chefs, Auguste Escoffier. Ritz and Escoffier first opened a restaurant in Baden-Baden then moved on to the Savoy in London.

Together they opened a restaurant in Baden-Baden in 1887. Impressed by a party at their restaurant, Richard D’Oyly Carte invited Ritz to manage the newly opened Savoy in London. Ritz and Escoffier made London, as banker Otto Kahn put it, “a place worth living in.” Ritz converted London society to the practice of dining out. His customers at the Savoy urged him to open a hotel in Paris.

The Savoy in London still considered one of the finest hotels in the world.

The Savoy in London still considered one of the finest hotels in the world.

With a loan from Marnier La Postelle (who was grateful to Ritz for suggesting the name Grande Marnier for the liqueur that he had invented) Ritz purchased a mansion in Paris and spent two years supervising the furnishing of its 210 rooms. The Ritz Hotel opened in 1898 to a crowd of diners. At the inauguration on 1 June 1898 were many figures of the European elite, including Lady de Grey, the Duke and Duchess de Rohan, Calouste Gulbenkian and Marcel Proust. By this time, Ritz had a controlling interest in nine other restaurants and hotels including the Carlton in London.

Lady de Grey, one of the greatest socialites of London in her day exclaimed 'where ever Ritz goes I go'.

Lady de Grey, one of the greatest socialites of London in her day exclaimed ‘where ever Ritz goes I go’.

In June 1902, Ritz suffered a nervous collapse. Although he took some part in planning the London Ritz, opened in 1905, he was never able to return to managing the business. He died an invalid after 16 years of illness. His eventual successor was his son Charles.

The Hotel Ritz Gets a Make-Over

When the doors open on the Ritz Paris this month after a three-and-a half-year restoration, sighs of relief will be heard from discriminating travelers around the world that the grand dame of Parisian luxury hotels is back. It is and will always be considered as one of the greatest hotels in the world.

The Paris Ritz in Place Vendome.

The Paris Ritz in Place Vendome.

Those worried that the 114-year-old hotel might suffer the modernization indignations of other five-star Paris properties, Ritz general manager Christian Boyens offers au contraire.

General Manager Christian Boyens.

General Manager Christian Boyens.

“Most important, the Ritz will stay the Ritz . . . but behind the walls, you will find a hotel that is totally 2016,” said Boyens.

The original 160 rooms are reduced to 71 rooms and 71 suites, 15 of those one-of-a-kind Prestige Suites, all with enlarged closets and bathrooms which are usually small in European hotels no matter where you stay.

The reception area of the Ritz replete with sumptuous antiques.

The reception area of the Ritz replete with sumptuous antiques.

If you think the architects and designers are copping out for custom made 2016 boring neutrals of minimalistic lines for furniture (which seems to affect almost all new construction everywhere), you can forget it at the Ritz. They’re using 124 containers with nothing but restored top of the line antiques. I can’t wait to see what that’s going to look like!

The wine cellar will contain 40,000 bottles of wine, including cognacs from the 1800s and six designer stores in the hotel’s luxe arcade.

“It really was a passionate project,” Boyens said. “A lot of passionate people were involved.”

A photo of L'Espadon, the fabulous restaurant at the Ritz before transformation. 2007

A photo of L’Espadon, the fabulous restaurant at the Ritz before transformation. 2007

Architect designer Thierry W Despont was responsible for the restoration of the historic grand hotel with the assigned goal of preserving its opulent classicism and Empire style while growing in sync with the 21st century. Boyens describes the new rooms as “your little Parisian apartment in the heart of Paris with rich residential fabrics and fine finishes.” That includes the iconic gold-plated swan fixtures in the bathrooms.

The former 'Imperial Suite' before renovation.

The former ‘Imperial Suite’ before renovation.

With the renovation several additions have been made, including a tunnel connecting the Place Vendome with the hotel’s underground garage, offering guests complete privacy. A retractable roof has been added to the interior winter garden making it a year-round leafy green setting.

Boyens shared that as part of the project, Ritz owner billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed purchased a bank building next door to the hotel for an expansion that includes a Chanel spa and a large garden designed like a private park.

Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayad the night of the accident leaving the Ritz Hotel.

Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayad the night of the fateful accident leaving the Ritz Hotel.

Conspiracies flew over the cause of the accident.

Conspiracies flew over the cause of the accident, particularly because of the Queens apparent lack of interest in the death of Diana.

When the hotel closed in the summer of 2012 for a then-estimated two year refurbishment, estimates were that the project would cost 200 million euros. One can only imagine the final tally.

Madonna, the Queen of Pop  (looking more like an American slob then a Queen) arriving to the Ritz...let's hope she can find something a little more appropriate to wear when she revisits the newly done hotel.

Madonna, the Queen of Pop (wearing those jeans? Seriously Madonna, this is the year 2016…you need to find a new stylist) arriving to the Ritz.

According to the hotel website, lowest room rates typically range from 1,100 euros ($1,110) to 2,900 euros ($3,167) a night depending on dates.

As I have my own digs in the city of light so I won’t have any need to stay at the fabulous Ritz. (oh sure…as if I can afford $1200/night). I will however make it a point to have at least lunch or even dinner at the fabulous L’Espadon restaurant.

Thanks for Reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.

Please visit our fabulous website of French Antiques!

Inspiring Antique-Filled Interiors of 2015

Hi Everyone,

While I’d meant to post this some time last year, it slipped by my swift little fingers so I decided to post it today.

As you know, Antiques create an ambience like nothing else can. From filling your home, or just an accent piece or two you can never go wrong with a fabulous antique. From a rustic farm table to an elegant pair of French classic bergeres, French antiques do it like nothing else can.

I’m always excited to see interiors created by people or designers that use antiques to create out of this world interiors. This collection of photos I’ve collected for you enjoyment may give just the inspiration you’ve been looking for. Enjoy.

21

New York style maven Iris Apfel in new French antique filled New York apartment.

New York style maven Iris Apfel in new French antique filled New York apartment.

Apartment design by Jorge Elias, Brazilian superstar.

Apartment design by Jorge Elias, Brazilian superstar.

Woody Allen's antique filled dining room.

Woody Allen’s antique filled dining room.

French Bergere, Louis Style Bed, and chaise longue featured in this room.

French Bergere, Louis Style Bed, and chaise longue featured in this room.

French Bergere and 19th Century French Gueridon grace the elegant entry of this home.

French Bergere and 19th Century French Gueridon grace the elegant entry of this home.

Antique Show Vignette

Antique Show Vignette

French Antiques and Louis XVI daybed featured in this New York Times issue of January, 2015

French Antiques and Louis XVI daybed featured in this New York Times issue of January, 2015

French antiques abound in this Jorge Elias design

Love the antique commodes in this Jorge Elias design

Antique filled interior by reknowned NY interior designer Jamie Drake (my Parisian and former New York friend Lindsey D'Ovies best friend from our Parsons School of design  days)

Antique filled interior by reknowned NY interior designer Jamie Drake (Jamie Drake is my Parisian friend Lindsey D’Ovies best friend from our Parsons School of design days)

Jamie Drake and I went to Parsons School of design at the same time and palled around with the same people. While we weren’t intimate friends we were young and full of fun. Jamie Drake is known as one of the superstar designers of New York and his work has won many awards and special notations. Google him today and see all about my old friend Jamie Drake and the success he’s made on the New York and world circuit of exceptional interior designers.

Thanks for reading.

Here I am in love with my corner Armoire.  It's almost big enough host a dinner party inside!

Here I am in love with my corner Armoire. It’s almost big enough host a small family!

Mark Lafleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver.

Visit our website today.

Gypsy Caravans and other alternatives to the ‘tiny house’

There’s a lot of interest in scaling down these days. Particularly in Vancouver where skyrocketing stratospheric red hot real estate prices are making people shake their heads. It’s all too much. Just this week, two of my good friends have cashed out of their 2200 sq. ft. apartment and are renting until their 1000 sq. ft. apartment is completed next year. Even they are scratching their heads wondering how they’re going to scale down. It’s easy…purge, baby, purge. Everyone’s doing it! (Excepting my clients who doing completely the reverse. They’re scaling up or changing their interiors to include classic French antiques)

The listing price on this 'dump' made headlines last month. You'd have to pay me 2.3M Dollars to live in this thing.

‘What a dump’ said Bette Davis and that most certainly applies to this listing. This house made headlines last month when it hit the market at the asking price of $2.3M Dollars.

I like watching the HGTV channel and am amused by young people opting out for mortgage free ‘tiny houses’. There’s something to be said about living mortgage free, but that would never seduce me into living in a shoe box. The typical size of a small home seldom exceeds 500 square feet (46 m2). The typical tiny house on wheels is usually less than 8 ft by 20 ft, with livable space totalling 120 square feet or less, for ease of towing and to exempt it from the need for a building permit. Really?? A livable space totally 120 square feet. I couldn’t swing a mouse in that space. I’ve seen apartments for rent in Paris that small and believe me, they are just plain miserable.

[caption id="attachment_17523" align="alignnone" width="500"]Granted this is charming, but to live in full time?? Granted this is charming, but to live in full time??

I don’t know about you, but tiny living is not my idea of living at all. The house above wouldn’t even accommodate my collection of Parisian shoes let alone one stick of furniture. Seriously, my walk in closet is bigger. Maybe if I was lounging with a coconut drink on a remote sunny beach in a Palapa somewhere where most of the days I was outdoors. I could swing that, just maybe. But it would have to have internet access at the very least. I need to write my blogs!

This holds a great deal of appeal but even then it looks like Paradise but everything comes with a price.  Be it monetary or otherwise.

This holds a great deal of appeal but even then it looks like Paradise but everything comes with a price. The first big Tsunami wave and adios muchachos.

Anyway, I’m quite sure that after only one month these ‘tiny livers’ are going to discover their trendy new digs are no fun at all and they’ll wish each other dead just to have more space. (Ever hear of cabin fever tiny dwellers?) Hey I’m all into having a cottage on the beach for a week or so, maybe even one of these luxury Tee Pee tents in Qlayoquot sound that rent for a mere $4700 for three days (that doesn’t get you a private bathroom either.)

I'm actually loving this idea but the price tag is a bit too trendy for me.

I’m actually not loving this idea so much being the hefty price tag and you’re hardly secluded with neighbours right across the way.

But a new trend popping up in North America are Gypsy Caravans. These Gypsy Caravans have been trending in Europe for quite some time now. I know, one of my Boho friends in Paris told me about them. This particular woman is led by the nose by her ever so young, pretty and boho daughter who trapses the world on a wing and a prayer and lives out of one single backpack. (OMG…that wouldn’t even hold my grooming products! I admit it, I’m vain…and need electricity and a shower every day or I turn into a screaming banshee) She, my friend, not her pretty trendy daughter, told me these Caravans were fun. I was suspect. Why? This same 60 yr old single woman will stay in a $30 a night hostel because she wants her daughters approval and respect for her ability to actually slog it out in one of these less than luxurious ‘holes’. (trou’s is the French expression). What lengths some people go to just to have the approval of their kids never ceases to amaze me.

All beit this hostel in Holbox Mexico looks fun, but you can be sure the infested beds and mosquitos would quickly put an end to any fun you were hoping to have.

All beit this hostel in Holbox Mexico looks fun, but you can be sure the bug infested futon beds, voracious mosquitos and an all night party hipster dufus next door would quickly put an end to any fun you were hoping to have.

Anyway, I’m digressing here. These gypsy caravans in France usually congreated in communes that look like nothing more than off beat trailer parks. Something that holds no appeal for me in the least. (particularly because they cater to young families will less than quiet children). Granted they’re cheap being in a glorfied trailer park with screaming children is not a dream holiday.

I don't know about anyone else, but this looks gross to me.

I don’t know about anyone else, but this looks for lack of a better word, gross.

I remember one late Spring Larry and I were travelling through Luberon valley and stumbled across a beautiful secluded manor house perched high on a hill with a pool then a path down to cabins along a slow meandering river. Sounds charming? It was until the sun went down and our less than charming neighbours decided to have an all night sex ‘romp’ without any regard for their neighbours. I mean seriously, the man was hollering (at the top of his lungs mind you) ‘sexual’ comments,(in French of course, but sex is sex and broadcasted loudly is hardly charming) grunting and groaning so loud I had to knock on his door. This very drunk and revolting red faced fat guy told me to F.O. in french so I ended up complaining to the Manor house. The Maitre de Maison explained they were from Marseilles and shrugged their shoulders. That explained it all.

The Abbey de Senanque in Gordes is my idea of serenity. Unfortunately you have to become a Monk to have the benefit of this peace and quiet.  (it would make dressing in the morning a non issue!)

The Abbey de Senanque in Gordes is my idea of serenity. Unfortunately you have to become a Monk to have the benefit of this peace and quiet. (that would however, make dressing in the morning a non issue!)

The Gypsy Caravans roots date back to 1810 in France. Gypsies have only been using caravans as their main living and working space since 1850. The gypsy name for a caravan was vardo, from the Iranian word vurdon or cart. Newly married couples would commission a coach builder to create their colorful home on wheels. They took between 6 to 12 months to build and were made of oak, ash, elm, walnut and pine. They were then ornately painted carved and decorated with gold leaf. Nothing discreet about the look of these ‘carnival’ like abodes.

The basic structure costs 15,000 Lbs. sterling.

The basic structure costs 15,000 Lbs. sterling.

Greg’s a small Bristol-based company specialising in selling and hiring beautiful handmade car towable caravans made by, you guessed it, Greg. He started the business after the unprecedented interest he received in a towbow Wagon he had built for his own leisurely pursuits. A towbow wagon by the way is another word for his designs, which are also commonly known as ‘Bowtops’, ‘Gypsy Wagons’, ‘Whoopie Wagons’, ‘Towbows’, ‘Romany Caravans’ or ‘Vardo’ to name a few.

Granted there is some charm but it's still not for me.

Granted there is some charm but it’s still not for me.

I’ve often been fascinated by’Airstreams’ mostly for their vintage or all steel design. Its a mix of 50’s meets industrial and I’ve seen some fabulous interior restorations that would induce me stay overnight or two. Larry’s sister and law and brother have one and they love it. Of course, Larry’s brother is a die hard camper and game hunter (moose and dear for eating only) so he’s a real outdoors guy.

Whats not to love about the design and elegance of this airstream.

Whats not to love about the design and elegance of this airstream.

Then there’s my favorite. The newly created ‘off the grid’ pod house. Talk about tiny house living that’s self sufficient and needs no power hook ups or water. You could viritually live anywhere this futuristic high style house. (I want want of these if an major earthquake ever hits our City)

Looking an alien space ship, this little pod lives completely off the grid. Granted its small, but this is an article of 'tiny houses' This I would buy!

Looking an alien space ship, this little pod lives completely off the grid. Granted its small, but this I would buy!

Granted there's only room for one in this configuration, but I'm sure an inflatable bed could be squeezed in somewhere.

Granted there’s a double bed but looks like room for one in this configuration, but I’m sure an inflatable bed could be squeezed in somewhere.

A camp of invading 'Pod' people. I'm sure they're just as off the grid as their houses.

A camp of invading ‘Pod’ people. I’m sure they’re just as off the grid as their houses.

They retail for around $80000 U.S. and they can only be bought in Europe. Anyone want one? I could fit one or two into my next container!

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog.

As long as I can manage I’ll keep my lovely home, and when one day I feel the needs to downsize that will be a challenge I am not looking forward to. I love all my antiques and vintage 60’s furniture electic mix home and not even one piece would fit in any of the above tiny home configurations.

NO room for this magnificent Armoire is any tiny house. Hey, but it came from a large French Manor house in the 1800's.  They weren't thinking tiny in the slightest.

NO room for this magnificent Armoire is any tiny house. Hey, but it came from a large French Manor house in the 1800’s. They weren’t thinking tiny in the slightest.

Mark LaFleur
Vancouver’s Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Visit out website. Be ship worldwide
You can also visit us on 1st Dibs too.

Valentine’s Day in Paris

It may sound a tad cliche, but spending Valentine’s Day in Paris is considered by almost everyone as the dream of a lifetime. After all, Paris is the city of love. Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world, but Paris is the city where lovers plunge impetuously into fairy tales: walking along the Seine and its countless bridges; admiring Paris’ oldest monuments; and, of course, ending the day with a delicious dinner at a Parisian restaurant.

One restaurant I love for a romantic truly chic Parisian restaurant (off the tourist radar) is Bistrot 31, located in the residential 16th Arrondisement. I love it for a many reasons. It’s hip, the owners Farida and David are personal friends and two of the most charming hosts ever, and there’s not a tourist to be seen. (unless of course I’ve blown it now by writing this blog). Oh sure there’s fine dining restaurants all over the city, but for an intimate, super Parisian experience (without breaking the bank either) B31 is my fav.

The fun and full of charm Farida co-owner. Please tell them I sent you.

The fun and full of charm co-owner Farida.

Valentine's Day in Paris
For Valentine’s Day, the French like everyone else, give gifts of flowers, jewelry or chocolates. As many of the chocolatiers in Paris are considered the best in the world, a gift of chocolates is a sublime idea.
I have many favorite chocolatiers in France which include Patrick Roger, Pierre Marcolini, Servant, and a host of many others to numerous to mention.

Patrick Roger is considered the best chocolatier in France

Patrick Roger is considered the best chocolatier in France. HIs windows are always conversational and can include anything from a giant chocolate gorilla to adorable 2 ft high penguins at Christmas.

Another form of luxuriating in chocolate is to drink chocolat chaud (hot chocolate to some degree) in an authentic Parisian tearoom. I love hot chocolate, but the mix of intense chocolate, sugar, and creme put me into the stratosphere of an all time sugar high. There are cafés everywhere (some are better than others). The hot chocolate at the restaurant La Rotonde is delicious. Its chocolate is sweet (and in good dose), and the Chantilly is velvety-smooth. Two other tearooms that are famous for their hot chocolate made in the traditional Parisian way are Angelina and Le Grand Colbert.

The 'mont blanc' in the lovely but very touristy 'Angelina' on Rue Rivoli.

The ‘mont blanc’ in the lovely but very touristy ‘Angelina’ on Rue Rivoli.

For Valentines 2016, the wonderful Pierre Hermes makes a heart shaped cake to die for. It’s a blend of the essence of roses intermingled with quince and apple. Unfortunately this cake and my favorite champagne ‘Deutz’ can only be had in Paris. They do not deliver to North America.

The Coeur de Venus, or heart of Venus by the reknowned Pierre Herme, Paris.  An intoxicating blend of quince, apple and rose.

The Coeur de Venus, or heart of Venus by the reknowned Pierre Herme, Paris. An intoxicating blend of quince, apple and rose.

Now if dinner is your idea of celebrating Valentines Day you’re not alone. I’m sure every romantic restaurant in the world is solidly booked for this Sunday. One of best restaurants in Paris is the Grande Vefour. I’ve not tried it yet, but I hope to on my next trip to the city of light.

The incomparable Grand Vefour, with it's history dating back to 1761.

The incomparable Grand Vefour, with it’s history dating back to 1761.

However you decide to spend your Valentines Day, I wish you a wonderful day spent with your loved one.

The incomparable Brigitte Bardot. One of the all time love goddesses of the all. (Except our own Marilyn Monroe)

The incomparable Brigitte Bardot. One of the all time love goddesses of theM all.

Valentine's Day in Paris

XOXOXO

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Here I am in love with my corner Armoire.  It's almost big enough host a dinner party inside!

Here I am in love with my corner Armoire. It’s almost big enough to sleep a family of four!

The Antique Warehouse

Taste of Paris 2016

It made it’s first debut last year in 2015. The “Taste of Paris” was a fun filled four day foodie event that featured the work of the some of the top chefs and restaurants in the city. It was such a smash hit, that’s it’s being repeated again next month.

The 'Taste of Paris' event runs from February 11 - 14 under the magnificent roof of the Grand Palais.

The ‘Taste of Paris’ event runs from February 11 – 14 under the magnificent roof of the Grand Palais.

Boasting more than 70 Michelin starred restaurants gastronomy has always been synonymous with France’s chic capital city, and where better to host a top culinary event than inside the iconic Grand Palais. This year’s festival looks set to build on last year’s success promising; tasting dishes from top chefs, culinary classes and a market place as well as live entertainment and much more.

The promotional photo for the Taste of Paris event. Looks fun already!

The promotional photo for the Taste of Paris event. Looks fun already!

Food lovers will be able to take their pick of eighteen pop-up restaurants serving bite sized signature dishes in tasting format for both lunch and dinner. Offerings will range from the best French high end cuisine from Michelin starred chefs to young and emerging talent.

Dining in the Grand Palais under those wonderful glass domed ceilings in an unforgettable experience in itself.

Dining in the Grand Palais under those wonderful glass domed ceilings in an unforgettable experience in itself.

If you happen to be in Paris from February 11 – 14 it’s a ‘must do’, particularly if you’re into great food. And who of us aren’t? Attendees will be able to dine under the glass roof of the magnificent Grand Palais and sample wonderful foods from chez Alain Ducasse and Romain Meder (Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée); Guy Savoy (La Monnaie de Paris); Thierry Marx (Mandarin Oriental); Fréderic Anton (Le Pré Catalan);

Chef Thibault Bombardier of Chez Antoine.

Chef Thibault Bombardier of Chez Antoine.

Young talent such as Stéphanie Le Quellec (La Scène, Prince de Galles); Pierre Sang Boyer (Pierre Sang on Gambey); Julien Dumas (Executive chef at Lucas Carton); Juan Arbelaez (Plantxa); Thibault Sombardier (Antoine & Mensae;)

The young and talented Rafael Gomes will be presenting at this years event.

The young and talented Rafael Gomes will be presenting at this years event.

Kei Kobayashi (Kei); Riuji Teshima (Pages); Rafael Gomes (Executive chef at Mauro Colagreco’s Grand Coeur); Nicolas Beaumann (Maison Rostang); Sébastien Gravé (Pottoka); Hervé Rodriguez (MaSa); pastry talent Yann Couvreur (photo below)

Handsome top pastry chef Yann Couvreur looking more like a fashion model than a chef is one of the top pastry chefs in Paris.

Handsome top pastry chef Yann Couvreur looking more like a fashion model than a chef.

The talented British chef Daniel Morgan at SALT, who says: “We are delighted and honored to be cooking at the Grand Palais. Just think, the last exhibition featured Picasso – we’ll try to follow that!”

Hipster chef Daniel Morgan complete with tattoos, beard and earrings works at Seafood restaurant 'Salt' in the 11th Arrondisement.

Hipster dude British chef Daniel Morgan complete with tattoos, beard and earrings creates seafood magic at Paris restaurant ‘Salt’ in the 11th Arrondisement.

I’m not sure if I will be back in Paris at this time, but if I am this is a must do on my itinerary. (between trips all over France). Have a look at the promotional video below. It looks amazing as most everything French.

Bon Degustation!

See the best of France on our website. We deliver anywhere in the world!

See the best of France on our website. We deliver anywhere in the world!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
Vancouver, BC

Please visit our fabulous website.

The ‘Cafe De L’Homme’ in Paris Just Re-Opened.

It appears the top forward thinking designers are in love with French Art Deco of the 1930’s for their new world class projects. It’s not surprising to me in the least. The Art Deco form is sleek, elegant and far more interesting in design than anything Scandinavian. Those looks are already losing their lustre with Scandinavian becoming scarce in accessiblity and losing it’s steam and interest in the high design world. The look is still selling but hardly cutting edge.

This fine quality French Art  Deco Sideboard would look wonderful in any setting. (It's available at the Antique Warehouse)

This fine quality French Art Deco Sideboard would look wonderful in any setting. (It’s available at the Antique Warehouse)

One of my very great and long time friends (co-owner of the Vancouver Film Institute) bought spanking new digs (a sub penthouse with a spectacular downtown view and wonderful enormous terrace) and used her fabulous Art Deco dining room suite she’d bought from The Antique Warehouse several years back. (She’s always been a forward thinker with great taste and style and not subject to fads or trends.)

The look of her dining area was/is sublime. She even says so herself while casting a disappointing gaze at her living room area furnished with a typical yet nice white leather sofa and wall unit suggested by her interior designer.

The white leather sofa's design is similar to this...nice but nothing revolutionary in design.

The white leather sofa’s design is similar to this…it’s nice but does not do the apartment or my friends great sense of taste any justice.

“Just look at that” she said while waving her elegant hand in the direction of her Art Deco Dining suite “Then look at that” she remarked pointing to all the new modern stuff she bought. “There’s no comparison”. She was right. There wasn’t. Her Dining room suite was nothing short of breath taking (particularly with the wonderful new colors she chose for the upholstery of the high design deco chairs). Her sofa and wall unit was nice, expensive, but didn’t have the sizzle or charm of the dining area. (I’ll have to ask her next time I’m there if I can take a photo of the D/R…it’s inspirational and wonderful)

cafe-de-l-homme-2

Just this winter (December to be precise) the Cafe inside the Musee de L’Homme in Paris was just re-opened to great fanfare and applause of it’s design.

After more than 6 years of renovation, Le Café de l’Homme has a stunning new 30’s Art Deco influence designed by super star design team Gilles & Boissier (responsible for the interior of the new Hotel Baccarat in New York… another art deco masterpiece that just opened earlier last Spring)

The stunning interior of the Baccarat hotel is nothing short of breathtaking.

The stunning interior of the Baccarat hotel is nothing short of breathtaking.

Beyond the massive statue of Hercules taming a bison (Albert Pommier, 1937), the Eiffel Tower rises above the fountains of the Jardins du Trocadéro. It’s almost close enough to reach out and touch. In the distance, you can make out the gilded dome of Invalides and the unmistakable outline of Notre Dame cathedral. From the Palais de Chaillot—the grand, neoclassical building erected for the 1937 Universal Exhibition—all of Paris is at your feet.

The view from the terrace of Cafe de L'Homme is spectacular.

The view from the terrace of Cafe de L’Homme is spectacular.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier Paris view than what’s on offer at the newly reimagined Café de l’Homme. But it’s not just the outside vistas that are captivating. A gorgeous new redesign by interior architects Gilles et Boissier has transformed the restaurant with chic décor channeling 1930s Art Deco. All of it was custom-designed especially for the space: marble tables, Arabic-style latticework in wood and marble, banquettes designed with a sumptuous, green plant motif.

The Art Deco interior was custom designed by Gilles and Bossier

The Art Deco interior was custom designed by Gilles and Bossier

The restaurant officially opened in December, two months after the grand debut of the Musée de l’Homme. (We can’t recommend this museum highly enough.) After a six-year renovation project, the Museum of Mankind presents a thought-provoking, interactive approach to humanity’s evolution and future. You could linger for an entire morning or afternoon here, book-ending your experience with a great meal at the Café de l’Homme.

Managed by Christophe Bonnat and Coco Coupérie-Eiffel (the great-great-granddaughter of Mr. Gustave Eiffel himself), this contemporary brasserie also boasts an outside terrace with exceptional views.

The banquettes almost look Louis Phillippe in design.

The banquettes almost look Louis Phillippe in design.

The food at the restaurant itself has some mixed reviews so far. Some find it wonderful others not so much. But as everything in Paris, it’s sure to be a delight and an unforgettable experience. Just to dine in such a sublime atmosphere is enough in itself. The food would have to be just plain awful to ruin my experience. I’ve yet to read a review that comes close to being a disasterous experience. I did read some North American’s ‘rude treatment’ experience that made me chuckle. You know my thoughts about that already.

In any event, I can’t wait to visit the cafe the next time I’m in Paris. Make it a must do if you happen to be in the City of Light anytime soon.

Cheers

Rare French corner armoire with me in the foreground.

Rare French corner armoire with me in the foreground.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

Please visit our website

Too see our collection of Art Deco go to our website above and enter the word Art Deco in the search bar to see a complete listing of what we have.