Antiques Blog

Club Michou, Paris.

Mention Chez Michou to any Parisian and they all know it. It’s been swingin since the 1960’s when it became 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 pop he was being most generous. ( I did offer to pay but he wouldn’t think of it )

This time on my buying trip I decided to bring my nephew Jackson who some of you may have met at the store. The tall, very quick and bright young man whose job was helping me emotionally but physically. This was my first buying trip without Larry.

Jackson at Ma Cocotte in the Flea Market. One of the chic new hip places to eat at the Marche aux Puces.

Jackson at Ma Cocotte in the Flea Market. One of the chic new hip places to eat at the Marche aux Puces. (Sporting his French hairdo)

Now Chez Michou is really nothing more than a crowded, impossible to get into, female impersonator club. I thought Jackson might has well start off his introduction to Paris with a ‘bang’. The show was amazing, the food, well, mediochre at best.

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 is impossible to get into without months in advance reservations. It’s been like that for decades. It’s small, cramped, and a typical ‘cabaret’ with a floor show etc. As I mentioned, to get in like this last moment was something special. I took one look at my nephew and said. “Did you pack a jacket or anything for going out to a night club in Paris?”

“No” he said. “Well” I said “this is Paris my friend, and you need to look the part. Lets go.”

So off we went, power 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 and be quiet! They know what they’re doing. They shaved off his beard (thank God) and redid his hair. (magnificent)

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. Oh, btw Jackson you owe me 60E for that haircut!!

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 for over 60 years. 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 Michou’s table for a hello. We couldn’t help noticing that every celibrity’s photo in the world was covering the walls.
Michou immediately insisted we have a photo taken with him. He turned to Simon and said ‘You’re friend is very beau’. I wasn’t sure if he meant me or Jackson.

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. They were so lifelike it was incredible. 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!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntmwWLxG2TM

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rXLCz9tHvA

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.

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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.

Remove Furniture ‘Dents’ From Your Carpets

So you moved your living-room furniture around. Cool new look, right? Totally, except for the telltale dents in the carpet. Before trying (and failing) to massage it back into shape, try this quick and easy trick.

What you need: A few ice cubes and a vacuum.

What you do: Place ice cubes on top of the dents, then wait. Once they melt, run a vacuum over the wet areas until dry.

Why this works: The water encourages the carpet’s fibers to swell and subsequently return to their previous shape. The vacuum encourages dry floors.

Just think: Now you can layer your rugs for aesthetic purposes, not just to hide all traces of the great ottoman disaster of 2015.

carpet_2

Have Fun!

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

Please visit our fabulous website

mark copy 2

Empty those jars of coins…you might have a dime worth over $2M Cdn.

DALLAS – An 1894-S Barber dime realized $1,997,500 U.S. at auction on Jan. 7 as the centerpiece of Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night event at the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Convention in Tampa.

This rare dime named the Barber dime was auctioned this month for over 2M Dollars Cdn. in Texas.

This rare dime named the Barber dime was auctioned this month for over 2M Dollars Cdn. in Texas.

The celebrated dime, Branch Mint PR66 PCGS CAC, was sold to an experienced collector, who wished to remain anonymous. The winning bidder was one of 16 different collectors vying for the dime.

The reverse image of the 1894 Barber dime is one of the rarest U.S. coins around.

The reverse image of the 1894 Barber dime is one of the rarest U.S. coins around.

“This was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to own one of the most famous, mysterious and elusive coins in American numismatics,” said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions. “It’s a classic of American coinage often grouped with the 1804 dollar and the 1913 Liberty nickel as ‘The Big Three’ of U.S. coin rarities. It has been the stuff of collectors’ dreams since attention was first brought to it in 1900.”

The 1804 Classi III American Silver dollar brough over $4M Cdn. at an auction in August of 2013.

The 1804 Classi III American Silver dollar brough over $4M Cdn. at an auction in August of 2013.

Only 24 Barber dimes were struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1894, apparently to balance a bullion account. No more than nine – and possibly only eight – examples of the 1894-S are known to collectors today, with this coin being the finest survivor certified.

“We know that there are likely at least a couple more of these 1894-S dimes still in circulation,” said Rohan. “Heritage Auctions is offering a reward to anyone who might have a previously unreported example of this coin. We’ll pay $10,000 simply to be the first to examine and verify it is an authentic, previously unknown 1894-S dime.”

There are two somewhere in North America. Maybe one’s sitting somewhere in those little jars of coins we all seem to collect. Wouldn’t that be a nice discovery!

Thanks for Reading.

Mark

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

Please visit our website at: Website

Today is Epiphany

Today is Epiphany!  What is Epiphany you ask?  It’s a holy Christian holiday that’s mainly celebrated in Europe. I write about this because last year we were in Europe during this holiday.

Epiphany, also known as “Three Kings Day” and “Twelfth Day,” is a Christian holiday commemorated on January 6. It falls on the twelfth day after Christmas, and for some denominations signals the conclusion of the twelve days of the Christmas season. Though many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced, in general, the feast celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ, his Son.

Epiphany - Vancouver Antiques
The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation” and is commonly linked in Western Christianity with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child. Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the gentiles. In Eastern Christianity, Epiphany puts emphasis on the baptism of Jesus by John, with Christ revealing himself to the world as God’s own Son. Likewise, on Epiphany some denominations commemorate Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine, signifying the manifestation of Christ’s divinity as well.

In France, it is on 6 January that the Wise Men figurines in the nativity scene are placed around baby Jesus; in the lead up to this date, they were either hidden or being gradually moved closer and closer to the stable. French people also celebrate the Epiphany by eating the “galette des rois” (Kings’ cake) ceremoniously!

 

The Galette des Rois is usually accompanied by a crown.

The Galette des Rois is usually accompanied by a crown that’s worn by a child in the family who finds the surprise in the cake.

Since the 14th century, people in France eat the galette des Rois once a year. According to the tradition, the cake must be divided so that each guests gets a slice, plus an extra one called the part du Bon Dieu/Vierge/Pauvre (Good Lord/Virgin/Poor) which is reserved for any unexpected stranger.

The cake is typically bought in a boulangerie, and is made of pâte feuilletée (puff pastry), frangipane (filling made from or flavored like almonds) or brioche (sweet bun). A fève (charm) in a shape of a figurine is hidden in the cake.

When kids are present, one of them (generally the youngest), must go under the table and directs whoever is serving to whom each slice should be given. The lucky one who gets the figurine becomes the king or the queen of the day, and he/she is given a golden or silver couronne (crown).

 

Three German children dressed up like the three wise men.

Three German children dressed up like the three wise men.

PS. You can order a Galette des Roi right here in Vancouver at French Made Baking on Kingsway! I ordered one last year and was thrilled on how authentic it was. Just like I had in Paris. This year unfortunately I am eliminating sugar from my diet so I’m afraid I’m going to have to pass. But please, don’t let that stop you. If you’ve not had one before it’s a little taste of Europe and truly delicious.

Mark

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
V5X2R4

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Baccarat Hotel in NYC.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer…as the saying goes. With real estate hitting stratospheric levels in almost every urban center in the world, it seems like it’s only the well heeled that can afford even the humblest of abodes. Well humble abodes be damned, as far as Baccarat is concerned. The centuries old Crystal producing French company have created palatial palazzos that make the Trump (among other luxury property developments) look like dated, tasteless digs (kind of like the blowhard, windbag below that created them.)

Can anyone really take this guy seriously?  Unfortunately for the world some people do.

Does anyone really take this guy seriously? Unfortunately for the world some people do. By the way, zip it Donald, you’re gross.

Baccarat, the renowned French company known for their fabulous crystal, has made their first step into the world of travel with the opening last March of the Baccarat Hotel and Residences in New York City.

For over two centuries Baccarat has been producing the world’s finest crystal and glassware. Everything from barware to furniture, the name Baccarat has been synonymous with elegance and quality.

A superb antique Baccarat cut crystal and ormulu box C.1800.

A superb antique Baccarat cut crystal and ormulu box C.1800.

In 1764, King Louis XV gave permission to found a glassworks in the town of Baccarat in the Lorraine region (in eastern France) where production consisted of window panes, mirrors and stemware. Baccarat received its first royal commission in 1823. This began a lengthy line of commissions for royalty and heads of state throughout the world. In 1855 Baccarat won its first gold medal at the Worlds Fair in Paris.

An estimated $1M Dollars U.S. went into this display in NYC's Holiday House Annual Charity.

An estimated $1M Dollars U.S. of Baccarat crystal went into this display in NYC’s Holiday House Annual Charity.

Last year, the company expanded to the business of ‘hotelier’ with the construction of a 50-story skyscraper fashioned to reflect Baccarat’s trademark finesse, dripping with its signature crystal. Designed by Paris team, Gilles and Bossier, the hotel reflects ‘French’ understated elegance, very much Art Deco in many aspects of the design.

The Baccarat Residences and Hotel.

The Baccarat Residences and Hotel.

The NYC hotel itself is comprised of 114 rooms, with several condos available for purchase as well. One bedroom apartments starting at over $5M up to the lofty $60M Penthouse, the Baccarat Hotel and Residences is not only home to opulently designed guest rooms and condos, Forbes reports the property also houses the first La Mer spa in the United States as well as the in-house restaurant Chevalier.

The long and narrow 'Chevalier Restaurant' in the Baccarat. Personally I dislike rooms designed with this configuration.

The long and narrow ‘Chevalier Restaurant’ in the Baccarat. This room has a design reminiscent to the fabulous Dining Salon aboard the Art Deco ocean liner ‘Normandie’. Only it pales in comparison in size and decor as the Normandie used Lalique crystal. I’ve always preferred Lalique crystal over Baccarat myself.

Two lavishly decorated salons, designed by Patrick Gilles and Dorothée Boissier, will entertain guests and the public with small plates and beverages. And the Baccarat Bar, inspired by the stables at Versailles, will serve cocktails and spirits out of a collection of crystal Baccarat glasses. Take a look at the photos below to get a closer look at the newest entry into Manhattan’s luxurious hotel scene.

Sleek, glittery entrance of the new Baccarat Hotel and Residences in NYC. Rooms on expedia start at 900/night Cdn.

Sleek, glittery entrance of the new Baccarat Hotel and Residences in NYC. Rooms on expedia start at 900/night Cdn.

One of the Baccarat bars.

One of the Baccarat bars. I love the use of French 19th Century touches with 21st Century modern.

One of the grand salons.

One of the grand salons with French Art Deco design influence.

The mirrored table and chairs are distinctly French 1930's Art Deco in design and influence.

The mirrored table and chairs are distinctly French 1930’s Art Deco in design.

The design team of Gilles and Bossier communicated the champagne-fuelled joviality and good-spirited European flamboyancy of the venerated 251-year-old French crystal brand in a way that didn’t upset the sensibilities of sophisticated Manhattanites? There is Baccarat crystal everywhere but done tastefully to avoid a ‘hollywood’ style bling that would mar the Baccarat name. Gilles and Bossier did this beautifully according to all sources. I would love to see this for myself.

One of the multimillion dollar condos available at the Baccarat.

One of the multimillion dollar condos available at the Baccarat.

The $60M U.S. Penthouse shown below looks lovely I suppose. But I can’t help thinking that it’s all about the status rather than the beauty that put it’s up at that price. And for me, I can think of more interesting properties in which to spend $60M Dollars. (Like a Chateau or two in France or Italy or an apartment in the Dakota or Sherry Netherlands in NY. Far more interesting.)

The soaring ceilings and furnishings are nice, but is it really worth $60M U.S.? I'm not sure that anyone's bought it yet. (Hey, where's the Chinese billionaire that spend $35M on a ring for his 7 year old. This should be right up his alley.

The soaring ceilings and furnishings are nice (albeit a bit bland for my taste), but is it really worth $60M U.S.? I’m not sure that anyone’s bought it yet. (Hey, what was the name of the Chinese billionaire that spent $60M on jewellry for his 7 year old. The notoriety from owning this place would certainly be inline for the press and status he seeks.)

Lau pictured here with his 7 year old daughter who already has a 'face' of a very spoiled child.

Lau, the Chinese billionaire pictured here with his 7 year old daughter who already has the look of a very spoiled child. I think a charity or foundation would have better served that $60M than jewellry for a child.

In any event, the Baccarat hotel and residences does seem a bit blingy for me, even if I was to spend $1000 a night, which I wouldn’t. There are far more tasteful and elegant buildings in NY with much more style that I’d rather see and be seen than the Bacarrat Hotel. I think I’m due for a trip to the Big Apple to revisit my old stomping grounds. My choice for a hotel? The Sherry Netherland without hesitation.

The Lobby of the Sherry. I know it's not the bling of the Baccarat, but I love it just the same.

The Lobby of the Sherry. I know it’s not the bling or uber modernity of the Baccarat, but I love it just the same.

Thanks for Reading.

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

Please visit our fabulous website of French Antique and Vintage Furniture
all imported from France.

Think Parisian…Serve a Buche de Noel this Christmas.

The French are always doing something better than anyone else. It’s just a fact that the whole world is slightly envious of. And the Christmas season is when the French outdo themselves and everyone else. Let’s face it all of Europe is pretty wonderful at Christmas time, but Paris looks especially marvellous with all it’s lights and decorations. The stores are glittering with all their gloriously tempting things, and the pastry shops are busy creating the most exciting things for the holidays you’ll ever see. It’s simply wonderful in Paris any which way you turn.

A nice little pair of Cavalli Sunglasses are a gift any woman would love fellas, (never mind the dress) and will set you back only $350 Cdn. The dress probably $10,000, the model...that I can't help you with. Contact her agent.

A nice little pair of Cavalli Sunglasses are a gift any woman would love fellas, (never mind the dress) and will set you back only $350 Cdn. The dress probably $10,000, the model…sorry gentlemen, that I can’t help you with. Contact her agent.

It’s around this time of year (actually starting before December) the pastry chefs are creating their ‘Buches de Noel’
It’s not just in Paris but all over France, pastry chefs are creating these fabulous cakes with designs and flavors that are out of this world. Traditionally the French have their Christmas dinners on Christmas Eve and it’s then that the Buche de Noel makes it’s appearance. It’s the crowning glory of a festive French feast, the icing on the cake so to speak. No one does the Buche de Noel like the Parisians. In fact it’s like an unspoken contest between the great patisseries and the top pastry chefs to see who comes up with the most creative concept of the year.

The Buche de Noel from the Ritz Hotel. It's traditional for all the top Parisian hotels to compete with each other for the most creative and beautiful buche de Noel.

The Buche de Noel from the Ritz Hotel. It’s traditional for all the top Parisian hotels to compete with each other for the most creative and beautiful buche de Noel.

Buche de Noel, or translated ‘Christmas Log’ or ‘Yule Log’, has an interesting history dating back to before the Medieval Age of Europe. Back then, Celtic Brits and Gaelic Europeans would gather to welcome the winter solstice at December’s end. People would feast to celebrate the days finally becoming longer, signalling the end of the winter season.

A group of modern day Druids celebrating the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

A group of modern day Druids celebrating the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge, England

To cleanse the air of the previous year’s events and to usher in the spring, families would burn logs decorated with holly, pinecones or ivy. Wine and salt were also often used to anoint the logs. Once burned, the log’s ashes were valuable treasures said to have medicinal benefits and to guard against evil. Some groups claimed the ashes would protect the bearer from lightning—an important quality at a time when houses (and most of the contents in them) were made of wood.

The traditional Yule Log was burned along with pine cones, ivy, moss and spices.

The traditional Yule Log was burned along with pine cones, ivy, moss, wine, salts and other spices.

The original Yule log cake recipe emerged during the 19th century. It was traditionally made from a genoise, generally baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, iced, rolled to form a cylinder, and iced again on the outside. The most common combination was basic yellow sponge cake and chocolate buttercream, though many variations which include chocolate cake, ganache, and icings flavored with espresso or liqueurs existed.

This is pretty much the yule log cake you'll find in most grocery stores in North America. Not interesting in the least.

This is pretty much the yule log cake you’ll find in most grocery stores in North America. Not appealing in the slightest.

But hop on a plane and fly about 8,000 km to Paris and the Buche de Noel is a completely different story. It’s a work of art, a testament to the creativity and incomparable artistry of the French. From some of the simplest, to the most creative, the Parisians excel in presenting the most delightful creations found anywhere on the planet. See below just some of the top chefs in France Buche de Noel creations for this year. They’re nothing short of breathtaking.

The Spere de Noel from the Shangri-La Parks, created by  Chef Pâtissier Michaël Bartocetti will set you back 108 Euros. ($163 Cdn).  It  serves 6 - 8 personnes.

The Spere de Noel from the Shangri-La Parks, created by Chef Pâtissier Michaël Bartocetti will set you back 108 Euros. ($163 Cdn). It serves 6 – 8 personnes.

The Pere Noel (Father Christmas) Buche de Noel for the Mandarin Oriental Paris.  About $150 Cdn.

The Pere Noel (Father Christmas) Buche de Noel for the Mandarin Oriental Paris by Christophe Michalak. (he’s doing quite a few for different hotels and venues this year) About $150 Cdn.

The Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel Buche de Noel.

The Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel Buche de Noel. Created by Alain Ducasse and available only in his restaurant ‘Beige’ in Tokyo for around 110E. ($165 Cdn)

Name: Piano Gianjuda Flavors: hazelnut, orange, Earl Grey Price: 125 € ($188 Cdn) Celebrity pastry chef Christophe Michalak’s Christmas cake this year looks like a kitchen stovetop.

Name: Piano Gianjuda
Flavors: hazelnut, orange, Earl Grey
Price: 125 €
Celebrity pastry chef Christophe Michalak’s Buche de Noel created for the Plaza Athenee, Paris 2015 looks like a kitchen stovetop. $188 Cdn.

So many cherries! Super star chef, 27 year old Cedric Grolet is known for his meticulously-sculpted fruits, and this year’s Christmas Buche is another showcase for his great talent. Do note that these are not real cherries, but cherries sculpted from mousse. Flavors: cherry, tarragon, Espelette chili, chocolate .Price: 120 €  ($180 Cdn.)

So many cherries! Super star chef, 27 year old Cedric Grolet is known for his meticulously-sculpted fruits, and this year’s Christmas Buche is another showcase for his great talent. Do note that these are not real cherries, but cherries sculpted from mousse. Flavors: cherry, tarragon, Espelette chili, chocolate. Price: 120 € ($180 Cdn.)

The Barriere Hotel's Buche de Noel created by Le Fouquet.  Cost 95E or around $145 Cdn.

The Barriere Hotel’s Roi de Soleil Buche de Noel created by Le Fouquet. Cost 95E or around $145 Cdn.

The Trianon Palace in Versailles presents the Roi de Soleil, or Sun King  Buche de Noel for 2015.  $113 Cdn. (seems like a bargain compared to the rest)

The Trianon Palace in Versailles presents the Roi de Soleil, or Sun King Buche de Noel for 2015. $113 Cdn. (seems like a bargain compared to the rest)

THE PENINSULA PARIS UNVEILS THIS YEAR’S BUCHE DE NOEL: “L’ENVOL DES SENS”  For this year’s holiday season, Julien Alvarez, Pastry Chef at The Peninsula Paris, invites guests on a gourmet journey with “L’Envol des Sens”, a creation inspired by the headline dessert of the French restaurant L’Oiseau Blanc Following the French holiday tradition of creative "bûches de noel" or Yule log cakes as a symbol of sharing and conviviality, this year chef Julien Alvarez reinterprets the signature dessert of L’Oiseau Blanc restaurant, shaping it into a tribute to the famous biplane of the same name. Blending traditional and modern styles, this Bûche, is aptly named “L’Envol des Sens” (flight of the senses) since it creates a perfect balance of creamy and crunchy flavours and textures and is a visual delight. Velvety layers are ingeniously assembled, enveloping a heart of buttery salted caramel and crunchy dark chocolate and pecan biscuit. Topped with a layer of banana confit and wrapped in a light, white chocolate cream, this creation sits on a chocolate and praline streusel, garnished with a propeller made of dark chocolate.

THE PENINSULA PARIS UNVEILS THIS YEAR’S BUCHE DE NOEL: “L’ENVOL DES SENS”
For this year’s holiday season, Julien Alvarez, Pastry Chef at The Peninsula Paris, invites guests on a gourmet journey with “L’Envol des Sens”, a creation inspired by the headline dessert of the French restaurant L’Oiseau Blanc
Following the French holiday tradition of creative “bûches de noel” or Yule log cakes as a symbol of sharing and conviviality, this year chef Julien Alvarez reinterprets the signature dessert of L’Oiseau Blanc restaurant, shaping it into a tribute to the famous biplane of the same name. Blending traditional and modern styles, this Bûche, is aptly named “L’Envol des Sens” (flight of the senses) since it creates a perfect balance of creamy and crunchy flavours and textures and is a visual delight.
Velvety layers are ingeniously assembled, enveloping a heart of buttery salted caramel and crunchy dark chocolate and pecan biscuit. Topped with a layer of banana confit and wrapped in a light, white chocolate cream, this creation sits on a chocolate and praline streusel, garnished with a propeller made of dark chocolate.

Crowned the title of Best Pastry hope 2014 by Relais Desserts, Julien Alvarez is the pastry chef that everyone is talking about right now. His Buche de Noel for 2015 will cost you just under $200. Cdn. It’s times like this that I hate our pitiful currency exchange rate. It doesn’t help either when buying Antiques.

Super chef patissier Julien Alvarez.

Super chef patissier Julien Alvarez.

There’s many other hotels in Paris that do a wonderful interpretation of the Buche de Noel, but some of my favorite French Patisseries do fabulous creations that are to die for. In fact, I think they do a more spectacular job than some of the hotel super chefs. If only I could get one shipped!

My own snapshot of one of my favorite Patisseries, Le Notre in Paris. Taken two days ago. The Buche de Noel in the center of the photo. Everything is edible on that fabulous creation.

My own snapshot of one of my favorite Patisseries, Le Notre in Paris taken just last week. The Buche de Noel in the center of the photo. It’s an hommage to the Hermes fashion house and everything is edible on that fabulous creation and sculpted out of chocolate, flavored with chocolate, yuzu (an asian citrus fruit),other secret citrus flavors, and almond paste. Can you imagine the taste! $196 Cdn.is what this lovely cake will cost you. See the professional photo of this wonderful Buche de Noel below.

Le Notre's professional shot of their 'Hermes' Buche de Noel for 2015.

Le Notre’s professional shot of their ‘Hermes’ Buche de Noel for 2015.

Cafe Pouchkine ( a favorite Russian Pastry shop of mine) presents this Buche de Noel for 2015.  $145 Cdn.

Cafe Pouchkine ( a favorite Russian Pastry shop of mine) presents this Buche de Noel for 2015. $145 Cdn.

I’ve sent buche de noel to clients and good friends for Christmas from this next patisserie, Pierre Herme, who makes the worlds most incredible macarons and desserts. They’re ‘perpetua’ Buche de Noel is magnificent.(shown below)

The 'Perpetua' Buche de Noel by Paris' 'Le Notre' is special ordered and a limited edition. It appears to be the most expensive Buche de Noel in Paris.  It's price you might ask...Only around $900 Cdn. that's all.  This cannot be delivered either...you must preorder and pick up in person.

The ‘Perpetua’ Buche de Noel by Paris’ ‘Le Notre’ is special ordered and a limited edition. It appears to be the most expensive Buche de Noel in Paris.
It’s price you might ask…Only around $900 Cdn. that’s all. This cannot be delivered either…you must preorder and pick up in person.

Laduree created this Buche Boules de Noel for this Christmas. I like Laduree but personally it's far too commercial and a bit over rated. There are far more interesting and less well known patisseries in France.

Laduree created this Buche Boules de Noel for this Christmas. I like Laduree but it’s not one of my favorites.

A Le Mere de Famille, Paris’s oldest confectioners shop, founded in 1761 (and still operating in its original location), is a marvellous little store that hasn’t changed much over the past 250 years. (It’s facade was changed in the 1800’s) I’ve personally purchased things from this fabulous little place and loved everything I bought. Here, chocolate lovers will find ice cream in several enticing flavors, among them chocolate sorbet, chocolate-mint, and chocolate with candied orange and a hint of vodka. Of course, there are lots of chocolates, candied fruit, calissons and other confections too. I spent over an hour in this store marvelling at everything they had.

Still in it's original location in the 9th Arrondisement, this shop is one of the most wonderful places to shop in Paris.  See their wonderful little Buche de Noel below.

Still in it’s original location in the 9th Arrondisement, this shop is one of the most wonderful places to shop in Paris. This wonderful icon of history was created before the reign of King Louis XV and Marie Antoinette. I can just imagine Marie on one of her excursions to Paris gallivanting through the store with her entourage in tow buying everything in sight. See their wonderful little Buche de Noel below.

Bûche “empreinte”  (French for footsteps.) is A la Mere de Familles adorable Buche de Noel for 2015. Flavors: chocolate, vanilla, pecan, caramel Price: 47€ .  At around $65 Cdn this is the deal of the century for Paris.

Bûche “empreinte” (French for footsteps.) is A la Mere de Familles adorable Buche de Noel for 2015. Flavors: chocolate, vanilla, pecan, caramel Price: 47€ . At around $65 Cdn this is the deal of the century for Paris.

The world famous Fauchon's buche de Noel. I'm not a fan of Fauchon...far too commercial.

The world famous Fauchon’s buche de Noel. Fauchon’s OK, but a bit commercial for my taste and always full of tourists.

Well we’re not in Paris so any of the above Yule logs will not be made available to us living here in Vancouver. They’re only to be revered from afar. But fear not, there are some pastry shops here in the city that are making their own Buche de Noel that look quite nice. I haven’t tried any, personally, so I cannot make any comments or give any advice.

In any event, have a look at some creative Buches de Noel made here by some of our top pastry chefs in the city. They’re an absolute bargain compared to anything in Paris. But then of course, prices of everything in Paris is stratospheric, including their French antiques.

Thomas Haas Buche de Noel.

Thomas Haas Buche de Noel. Not sure if the price reflects this cake but it seems to be priced at $35 and serves 6. It must be a misprint!

The Gift box buche by Faubourg of Vancouver.

The Gift box Buche de Noel by Faubourg of Vancouver. $57 will serve 8 – 10 persons. It looks great although it’s a bit of a hit and miss at Faubourg. Their pastries have disappointed on occasion.

Ganache Patisserie in Yaletown has a couple of different versions of their Buche de Noel for 2015.

Ganache Patisserie in Yaletown has a couple of different versions of their Buche de Noel for 2015. The price for a 12 person log is around $60 + tax. I’ve tried a pastry once from this Patisserie and didn’t think much. It was years ago when they just opened.

Buche de Noel by Chez Christophe in Burnaby.

Buche de Noel by Chez Christophe in Burnaby. Have never heard of this person, although I’m willing to give it a try.

The Bon Ton patisserie shop (one of the first pastry shops in Vancouver that was originally located on Granville St. and around for as long as I can remember) presents this Buche de Noel for this Christmas.

The 'Caramelia' Buche by Bon Ton Patisserie.

The ‘Caramelia’ Buche by Bon Ton Patisserie.

My Mom made sure that everyone in the family had a Bon Ton diplomat cake for their Birthday every year as far back as I can remember. ( That my friends is a long long time ago)

My Mom made sure that everyone in the family had a Bon Ton diplomat cake for their Birthday. (That my friends was a lot of cakes for many many years)

I just happened to be dragging my jet lagged butt around Whole Foods today and saw their version in the showcase. See below

Whole Foods Market's Buche de Noel.

Whole Foods Market’s Buche de Noel. A bit ‘triste’ (sad in English) in comparison to everyone elses’. I think it was around $30 but it was so unimpressive I didn’t take much notice.

If you decide to order a Buche de Noel for Christmas please let me know which one you settled on and how it worked out. I always love to get feedback from my readers. Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

I'll leave you with the shot of the English Royal Family Christmas Dinner. Looks wonderfully casual although I wonder if that butler on the extreme right has to hold that squirming baby all through the dinner? Oh those spoiled Royals!

I’ll leave you with the shot of the English Royal Family Christmas Dinner. Looks wonderfully casual although I wonder if that butler on the extreme right has to hold that squirming baby all through the dinner? Oh those spoiled Royals!

Happy Holidays.

Mark

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

Please visit our website at http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Party Underground in Paris

‘Tonight we’re gonna party’ by ‘Prince’ always reminds me of hundreds of gyrating bodies dancing uncontrollably as if the earth was coming to an end. The way things have been unfolding in Paris lately, it seems like it may very well be for the French. However that’s not stopping them from carrying on and socializing like never before.

The parties of King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette were some of the most splendid ever see in France.

The parties of King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette were some of the most splendid ever seen in France.

Parisians love to party. They always have. They’ve been throwing elaborate parties since the dawn of time and nobody knows how to throw parties like the French. They pull out all the stops and come up with some of the most incredible events I’ve ever heard of or seen.

La Bal Orientale thrown by Charles de Beistegui, one of the greatest parties ever given.

La Bal Orientale thrown by Charles de Beistegui, one of the greatest parties ever given.

So, there’s planning a party and then there’s planning a party in a secret abandoned locations in Paris.
The new kids on the block are called Agency WATO or ‘We are the oracle’. Ok..so they’ve appointed themselves to a very lofty position. Do they deserve the title. I’m not sure, I’ve never been to one of their shindigs. Not that anyone needs an invitation, not like the Diner en Blanc or one of the parties of Les Ambassadeurs. These are by invitation only. I’ve been invited to both, (lucky chic me) but I’ve never attended. I work too hard in France to find the time.

We are the Oracle has surfaced in the French capital in recent years, throwing once in a lifetime soirées for Parisians looking to party somewhere a little more off the grid. The event organisers, or as they might prefer to call themselves, “les conspirateurs“, have a knack for pinning down the most impossible locations you could imagine to host an extravagant shindig.

The WATO party animaux in the rotting Rothschild Mansion I wrote about some time back.

The WATO party animaux in the rotting Rothschild Mansion I wrote about some time back.

The group has parties in the most unlikely and creative venues which are only announced the day before.

A shot of the candlelit interior of the abandoned Chateau in the Bois de Boulogne.

A shot of the candlelit interior of the abandoned Chateau in the Bois de Boulogne.

The Urban Tribe dinner was organized in an abandoned in 1934 subway line was one such venue.

The setting is magical in an abandoned underground subway.  It looks wonderful although I'm not sure how fabulous it is in person. It's interesting nonetheless.

The setting is magical in an abandoned underground subway. It looks wonderful although I’m not sure how fabulous it is in person. It’s interesting nonetheless.

Other venues include dinners in abandoned haunted schools, under bridges (Pont Alexandre..“The Last Dinner of the Bridge Keepers”– a banquet underneath the Pont Alexandre III before the mayor of Paris closed the riverbanks for renovations that were completed this summer.) and a rooftop dinner (last Bastille Day) on the top of an old hospital with a view of the Eiffel Tower.

The rooftop dinner on top of an abandoned hospital took place last Bastille Day.

The rooftop dinner on top of an abandoned hospital took place last Bastille Day.

They also organized a dance party for 2500 people in an abandoned swimming pool that looked amazing. If you like crowds of 2500 persons that is.

Surreal Jellyfish float above the 2500 gyrating party goers at the abandoned swimming pool venue.

Surreal Jellyfish float above the 2500 dance party goers at the abandoned swimming pool venue. I must admit, I LOVE the Jellyfish.

The next party planned is called ‘Venise sous Paris’. Or ‘Venice under Paris’. The venue is secret but it must be in some abandoned canal somewhere as they are promoting Gondolas floating in water. I’m sure it will be fun, but frankly I prefer to be up in the clean fresh air somewhere and not exposing myself to viruses, spores, and molds that grow in abundance in underground canals and sewers. Call me ‘fussy’ it’s just my thing. It’s one of the reasons I’ve never visited or had the desire to visit the catacombs.

Frankly, I'd rather be in Venice for the Carnival. That's a pleasure I've yet to experience.

Frankly, I’d rather be in Venice for the Carnival.That’s a pleasure I’ve yet to
experience.

There’s time to join this party. It’s taking place in January with the venue as yet undisclosed.
If it’s something you really want to attend contact them directly. They’re on the web.

Thanks for Reading

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
V5X 2R4

Please see our fabulous furniture and antiques from France.

Christmas at Chateau Vaux le Vicomte

As the Holiday season approaches I know some of you might be visiting Paris for Christmas. I highly recommend it. Even though the terrorist attacks have put some people off, it’s safer than ever now, with increased security everywhere. Even at the department stores, guards are asking people to open bags and coats for inspection.

Today at Galleries Lafayette is a big pre-clearance Christamas Sale with Todd's shoes for men at 40% off. (among billions of other designers and deals)

Super Model Kate Moss gazes indifferently from the giant billboard at Galleries Lafayette as the Queen of the style world over the millions of Christmas Shoppers eagerly snapping up beautiful french things.

Christmas is one of the most beautiful times of the year, with all the decorations, lights and fabulous stores/boutiques glittering with gorgeous holiday goods. What’s also great are the Parisians don’t make a mass exodus out of the city like in the Summer. The Parisians make the city with all their high style and fashion sense. They’re more visible than ever now darting in and out of stores preparing for the holiday dressed like fashion mavens in their furs, minks, and expensive accessories.

This woman collects minks that have been doused on by fur protestors. I thought the fur was dyed red purposely.

This woman collects minks that have been doused on by fur protestors. I thought the fur was dyed red purposely.

Hardly winter wear, but stylish none the less.

Hardly winter wear, but a stylish party dress none the less. I don’t know how this girl is going navigate through a Christmas party without someone doing severe damage to this lovely garment. (either by cigarettes, shoes, or stains from spilled champagne.) She might very well go up in a poof of smoke in some careless ember from a smoking fiend Parisian. Danger Will Robinson, Danger.

At Christmas one of the most famous Chateaux gets all done up for the season. The Chateau Vaux le Victomte just south west of Paris is completely decorated for the holiday season in splendid and opulent decorations. Larry and I did the tour last year, but I’d recommend doing it other than on a weekend. It was very busy.

A little history first on this fascinating Chateau and it’s colorful history.

Vaux le Vicomte at Night.

Vaux le Vicomte at Night.

The 17th-century château Vaux-le-Vicomte, whose designers would go on to create the palace of Versailles, was the jewel in the French Minister of Finance, Nicolas Fouquet’s crown. It was built in the middle 1600’s by the best builders, landscapers and designers of the time.

An arial view of the magnificent Chateau and it's gardens.

An arial view of the magnificent Chateau and it’s gardens.

In August, 1661, the French finance minister Fouquet threw one of the most lavish parties of all time at his new château. Dinner was prepared by François Vatel; (a famous chef at the time who committed suicide when at one of his elaborate feasts the seafood was never delivered…talk about a histrionic drama queen).

The poor Francois Vatel, a genius of his time.

The poor Francois Vatel, a genius of his time.

The entertainment included a play, courtesy of Molière, plus an elaborate fireworks display, all for the King of France, Louis XIV, and his court. Unfortunately for Nicolas, this proved to be a life changing event for him in ways he could have never imagined.

From the look on this guys face it's little wonder the King Louis had his suspicions

From the look of this guy it’s little wonder the King Louis had his suspicions

The king was duly impressed, especially with the estate, which was the creation of three young talents: architect Louis Le Vau, painter and decorator Charles Le Brun, and landscape architect André Le Nôtre. While the château is beautifully proportioned and the decor is tastefully rich, the gardens and grounds make Vaux a masterpiece.

The double-height grand salon overlooks the gardens

The double-height grand salon overlooks the gardens

King Louis XIV was so impressed with Vaux-le-Vicomte, he took the triumvirate of Le Vau, Le Brun, and Le Nôtre to the southwest of Paris and launched the construction of Versailles. While working on the royal palace, Le Nôtre also oversaw the design of the gardens for the châteaus of Chantilly, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and Saint-Cloud, as well as the renovation of the Tuileries in Paris.

The incomparable 333 year old  Chateau de Versailles built in 1682

The incomparable 333 year old Chateau de Versailles built in 1682

The king, however, was less amused with Fouquet. Convinced that the Chateau Vaux le Vicomte had been built with money pilfered from the national treasury, the king had his finance minister arrested a few weeks after the infamous fête, and Fouquet spent the rest of his life in jail. All his glorious Louis XIV furniture, artwork and possessions were seized.

In actuality there was no proof other than the fact the King Louis XIV was a man with a great ego and couldn’t stand being upstaged by his Finance minister. Just one of many examples of Royals behaving badly.

On June 21, 2015 marked the 400th Birthday of Nicolas Fouquet, original builder of Vaux le Vicomte. This years costume party was one of the most extravagent yet. Imagine being dressed in full costume with the temperature topping 35C. Non Merci.

Parisians dressed in 'desguisement' in 35C with no sign of perspiration or uncomfortability. So typical of Parisians.

Parisians dressed in ‘desguisement’ in 35C with no sign of heat stroke or uncomfortability. So typical of Parisians.

Christmas at Vaux is particularly magical. The path to the entrance is lined with snow-dusted pine trees, and classical choir music echoes from the front door. Each of the stately salons, some adorned with magnificent frescoes by Le Brun, are illuminated with Christmas trees and decorations. In the Grand Salon, a towering tree—a whopping eight meters high and covered in more than 5,000 ornaments—almost reaches the ceiling. At the base of the tree, children are given a small gift.

Fabulous decorated trees almost 100 ft high.

Fabulous decorated trees are in almost every room of the Chateau.

We circled the trees en mass with other visitors while carollers sung French Christmas carols. It would have been nicer if it wasn’t so busy! The smell of nutmeg and spices floatedd through the air, and fires crackle in the majestic fireplaces. It was easy to imagine the merry feasting of ancient aristocrats while gazing at the dining table, dressed to the nines with Christmas porcelain and tree-shaped towers of macarons. At dusk, the chateau’s façade is illuminated with lights, and the garden boxwoods twinkle in red and green.

The Dining Table set at the Vaux le Vicomte Dining Room.

The Dining Table set at the Vaux le Vicomte Dining Room.

I especially liked the life sized recreation of Nicolas Fouquet and his wife in Chocolate. But I think I enjoyed the most, (being a foodie) was the kitchen that serviced the Chateau complete with it’s original sinks, cutting boards, counters and stoves. There was even hot and cold running water fed by wood burning boiler systems. There was a large farm table (like the ones we sell) where the staff would eat their meals and gossip about the aristocrats upstairs.

A glimpse into the past way of life in the 16th Century France.

A glimpse into the past way of life in the 16th Century France.

The life sized chocolate carving of Nicolas Fouquet and his wife.

The life sized chocolate carving of Nicolas Fouquet and his wife.

It was one salon after another decorated with Christmas trees and lights everywhere. One room showed an actual bathroom from the 1700’s with the toilet, copper bathtub, and dressing tables.

The 18th Century bathroom at Vaux le Vicomte. Note the cane bathtub encasing the copper tub, the copper jug that has pours hot and cold water, the bidet and toilette.

The 18th Century bathroom at Vaux le Vicomte. Note the cane bathtub encasing the copper tub, the copper jug that has pours hot and cold water, the bidet and toilette. The bathtubs were used only once or twice a year as middle ages society, and not just in France, thought bathing was unhealthy.

One of the grand salons decorated.

One of the grand salons dazzlingly decorated.

The tour took about an hour, ending with a visit to the stables where carriages were displayed from every Century beginning with the 1600’s. There was also a very busy gift shop where I bought a book of recipes from the 1600’s. They were amazingly complicated and I’ve yet to try one.

Did we enjoy our visit? Yes, but seeing it once was enough.

Thanks for reading.

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

Visit our Website

Villa Santo Sospir and Jean Cocteau

My topic this week is the fabulous Villa Sospir and one of it’s famous guests, Jean Cocteau. Villa Sospir is located in the South of France on the Cote D Azur and was purchased in the 1940’s by an American millionaire for his French wife. He promised her if they made it through WWII (they were Jewish) he would buy her a wonderful home in the South of France.

The hidden but wonderful Villa Santo Sospir in St. Jean Cap Ferrat

The hidden but wonderful Villa Santo Sospir in St. Jean Cap Ferrat

The millionaire, Alec Weiswieller, kept his promise and found this wonderful house for his beautiful Parisian socialite named Francine. Francine was a great beauty and loved entertaining particularly with artists and other colorful personalities. She was a great patron of the arts too.

In this photo from left to right is Pablo Picasso, Francine, Pablo's wife, and Jean Cocteau all partying at the Villa Sospir.

In this photo from left to right is Pablo Picasso, Francine, Pablo’s wife, and Jean Cocteau all partying at the Villa Sospir.

At the time Santo Sospir was one of the few villas overlooking the sea next to the lighthouse of St Jean Cap Ferrat. The name “Santo Sospir” comes from the traditional name of St Jean Cap Ferrat, Cap Saint Sospir, named after a sixth century monk who had lived in the area.

In Spring 1950, Francine Weisweiller invited Jean Cocteau, who had just finished a film ‘Les Enfants Terribles’, for a week’s holiday in the villa, together with his companion and adopted son, Edouard Dermit. (Jean Cocteau was gay and Edouard was his former gardener)

Jean Cocteau, Francine and Edouard Dermit, his 'companion'

Jean Cocteau, Francine and Edouard Dermit.

Cocteau felt restless after a couple of days and asked Francine’s permission to do a drawing of Apollo on the wall above the fireplace. This was followed by two “priests of the sun” on either side, closely resembling the fishermen of nearby Villefranche, wearing traditional hats and carrying their nets

Cocteau's first drawing 'Apollo' was painted directly above the fireplace. From there on, almost every wall was decorated by Cocteau. His work today can command thousands of dollars for one small work.

Cocteau’s first drawing ‘Apollo’ was painted directly above the fireplace. From there on, almost every wall was decorated by Cocteau. His work today can command thousands of dollars for one small work.

“Quand on décore un mur, on décore les autres” (Once one decorates one wall one decorates all the others) Henri Matisse. Jean Cocteau’s one week stay extended into twelve years and progressively each wall in the house was painted and frescoed or “tattooed” with figures inspired by Greek mythology. After the walls came the ceilings, which were covered with geometric drawings in delicate pastel shades. Cocteau did the entire house without sketches, drawing directly on the walls and on or around the furniture. He drew first in charcoal, then used coloured pigments mixed with raw milk to make a tempera.

The dining room features a tapestry designed by Jean Cocteau and given to Francine Weisweiller as a present, rattan walls and ceilings, and wicker furniture. The furniture and fabrics were chosen in collaboration with Francine Weisweiller’s friend, Madeleine Castaing, to complement Cocteau’s drawings.

The Dining Room at Villa Santo Sospir. The tapestry by Cocteau is featured behind.

The Dining Room at Villa Santo Sospir. The tapestry by Cocteau is featured behind.

Close up shot of the tapestry and dining set.

Close up shot of the tapestry and dining set.

I love how the walls are ceiling are reeded with wicker. Super charming and understated.

I love how the walls are ceiling are reeded with wicker. Super charming and understated.

Please see the following photos of the guest and bedrooms of this wonderful villa.

Santo-Sospir-Bedroom

I love the use of reeds everywhere for a beach house. So relaxed.

I love the use of reeds everywhere for a beach house. So relaxed.

One of the exterior terraces.

One of the exterior terraces.

Another guest room full of Cocteau Drawings.

Another guest room full of Cocteau Drawings.

If you’re ever in the South of France and feel so inclined the house is open to the public. Check their website for more information.

Thanks for reading.

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

Please visit our website for wonderful French furniture.