Tag Archives: Champs-Elysees

Champs-Elysees Goes Car-Free Monthly

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, one of Paris’ busiest boulevards and home to the Arc de Triomphe, will soon be off-limits to cars once a month in an effort to eradicate worsening smog conditions. If you aim to cruise in style in your supercar or block traffic with your Rolls-Royce or Bentley take note of the following dates.

Cars will be not be allowed on the busy two kilometer-long (1.2-mile) street on the first Sunday of every month, coinciding with the day Parisian museums are free to public. The eco-friendly scheme will kickstart on 8 May 2016 instead of 1 May, a public holiday, when many of the council workers needed to run the scheme will be off work.

Mayor Anne Hildalgo, a socialist who’s been actively fighting the smog, will also include nine new routes to be pedestrianised every Sunday and public holiday. This adds to the 13 that’s already subject to traffic restrictions under the “Paris Respire” anti-pollution programme, a car-free scheme where selected roads are closed to traffic on the above mentioned days between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

According to the World Health Organisation, fine-particle pollution claims an alarming 42,000 lives prematurely in France every year.

Focus: François Champsaur, Designer

Just a few steps from the Champs-Elysées and Arc de Triomphe in Paris’ golden triangle lies the Hôtel Vernet, a post-Haussmann building that the Paris-based designer François Champsaur recently transformed into a contemporary haven.

Living room in an apartment warehouse conversion, La Joliette, Marseille

Living room in an apartment warehouse conversion, La Joliette, Marseille

Champsaur began by restoring the original detailing of the 100-year old property: the glass and iron roof in the restaurant originally designed by Gustav Eiffel, the checkerboard marble floor and the sweeping spiral staircase. He then enlisted local artists and artisans to make custom furniture, textures and materials. These are found throughout the hotel alongside one-off decorative details and unexpected color juxtapositions.

The entry area, now framed by shimmering glass panels hand brushed with blanc de Meudon leads to an airy lobby area where a large abstract carpet by artist Jean Michel Alberola unfolds between white columns and arches. The lounge area features hand painted frescoes, also by Alberola. Geometric forms, mostly black or white, float against a pale gold background echoing the room’s brass and copper tones. To counter­balance the room’s original marble and brass mantelpiece, Champsaur placed a pleated copper screen at the opposite end of the room and in front of the screen he designed a rippling marble bar that recalls the work of sculptor Jean Arp.

Vernet Hotel, Paris

Vernet Hotel, Paris

Artistic accents are characteristic of Champsaur’s work. The Paris-based designer eschews mass-produced furniture and products and tries to incorporate the craft of artisans wherever possible. “Paris is about the skills of our individual craftspeople,” he says. “The furniture-makers, the woodworkers, and the people who work with fabrics. In my small way, I try to stimulate their creativity and to revitalize their valuable expertise.”

Crafted Lamp by Champsaur

Crafted Lamp by Champsaur

Born in Marseille, François Champsaur studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris before joining the Ecole nationale des Arts Décoratifs (ENSAD). After working with various architects and interior designer studios he started his own firm in 1996 focusing on structural design, furniture and interiors.  He has since transformed luxury hotels such as The Royal Evian and the Vernet Hôtel in Paris, private homes throughout France, and furniture lines in collaboration with brands such as Pouenat Ferronnier and HC28.

Crafted Furniture by Champsaur

Crafted Furniture by Champsaur

Champsaur’s lamps and furniture pieces for Pouenat Edition are mostly made of lacquered and brushed metals that oscillate between folding, fluid and jagged lines, while his product lines for Beijing-based HC28 feature lacquering, interlacing and geometrical forms inspired by traditional Chinese furnishings. “I like to combine the best of what I know from French and Chinese craftsmanship,” he says.

Custom designed green bench in leather and lacquer - Trocadero, Paris.

Custom designed green bench in leather and lacquer – Trocadero, Paris.

A love of craftsmanship also informs Champsaur’s residential interiors. Recently, for the renovation of a residence in Paris’ Trocadéro neighborhood, Champsaur was tasked with a complete overhaul of a 5,382 sq. ft. apartment that had not been renovated in 40 years. The designer balanced the client’s desire for a dramatic new look with respect for the original architecture by first removing false ceilings and walls. “I wanted to strip things back to basics by focusing on strong details which have more in common with architecture than interior design,” Champsaur says.

Much like a sculptor, Champsaur peeled back to reveal the essence of the space. Narrow corridors, thick walls, heavy doors and dark corners were replaced by light-weight walls and partitions, open sight-lines and minimal color. Champsaur replaced the parquet with long pine boards and concealed the wardrobes and televisions behind wall panels he finished in an ombré color effect.

He also adapted the apartment layout to suit contemporary lifestyles. “The kitchen has become a living room in keeping with the current trend of cooking, socializing and eating in a large open plan space; the heart of the home,” he explains. In the dining area a custom green bench in leather and lacquer surrounds a bespoke marble dining table, both designed by Champsaur, while black dining chars by Konstantin Grcic add a sculptural touch. The marble and brass accents throughout give the residence a luxurious feeling, but one that is offset by careful attention to light and proportion.

Kitchen in apartment warehouse conversion. La Joliete, Marseile.

Kitchen in apartment warehouse conversion. La Joliete, Marseile.

The same attention is evident at a much smaller apartment Champsaur designed at a former warehouse in Marseille’s La Joliette district. Here he also focused on opening up the living spaces and bringing out the existing architectural elements. He unified the space by using the same flooring throughout, and in the sitting room he cleared all fixtures and storage units. To counter balance the ceiling height, he selected just a few furniture pieces that are bold, but low to the ground. These include the Sonia stool, designed by Sergio Rodriguez, the Bluff coffee table by India Mahdavi, the Wiggle side chair designed by Frank Gehry and a ‘Roue De Clement’ mirror-light fixture by Pascal Michalou.

While Champsaur loves to fill his hotels and homes with art, as a designer, he is also focused on the art of living and he carefully considers the way a space functions for its inhabitants. “For both homes and hotels, I always focus on three essential elements,” he says. “The fluidity of the space, the spirit of the place and the modernity. I try to create a lifestyle, not just a style. I believe a person’s home should be as much of a haven as a hotel is.”

Q & A

Can you describe your path to design? What and who were your major influences?

I think for me it was a bit like how chefs always say they had a grandmother who inspired them. In my case, it was the different houses that I grew up in, the taste of my family in general for design, lifestyle of course and a Mediterranean kind of simplicity. Within this process there was also variety, hence why I like to have many sources of inspiration around me at all times – books, images of design and art…anything visual.

What came first: designing furniture or interior spaces?

They both came together on my first project, The Café de l’Alma in Paris. It was a fantastic experience. The owners of the restaurant didn’t want to buy any of the furniture or anything that was going into the interiors – they wanted everything to be created especially for it. So I had my work cut out for me but it was fantastic as a young designer to have such a wonderful opportunity to really put my stamp on every aspect of the project.

Did you always have a love for metals?

Yes, I love working with metal. That’s why I take so much joy in my work for Pouenat Ferronier. According to the nature of the project, I tend to prioritize natural materials. I never choose pieces made of plastic and industrial materials. I much prefer oak, birch, Tavel stone or Burgundy, marble.

You are known for designing the homes of art collectors. Do you also collect?

I personally collect art and sculptures from the 1960’s. I like this period and also the 1950’s. The 50’s for me reflect a period of savoir-faire, craftsmanship, the individual, atypical furniture.

Have your tastes and design ideals changed since you started your career?

I am sure that my work has changed over time, however not dramatically as I am not a believer in trends. Of course they exist, but I think ‘trends’ can do more harm than good, so I choose not to follow them. Thinking has been globalized and savoir-faire is disappearing.

What would you like to work on next?

A venue that will gather all of my passions; wine, food, music and the Mediterranean art of living.

Story Credits
Text by Sophie Kalkreuth

This article was originally published in PALACE 15

Ducasse, Le Aquer Awarded Third Michelin Stars

The Michelin inspectors have unveiled the recipients of the much-coveted third star. This year, the Michelin Guide to the finest cuisine in France awarded none other than Alain Ducasse for his restaurant at the Plaza Athénée and Christian Le Aquer of Le Cinq.

With his ‘natural’ style of cuisine Alain Ducasse’s restaurant broke the norms and codes of Parisian fine dining with his choice of removing meat from the menu. Ducasse, also the head chef of Louis XV in Monaco, chose instead to craft a new menu based solely on fish, vegetables and grains. With Romain Meder at the wheel and designed by Patrick Jouin, the Plaza Athénée accepts the third star after having missed out in 2015.

Both of this year’s new three-star restaurants are found in Paris’s “triangle d’or” – or golden triangle – a chic part of the 8th arrondissement taking in the Champs-Elysées. A stone’s throw from the red awnings of the Plaza Athénée on Avenue Montaigne, restaurateurs at the Four Seasons Georges V hotel were also holding their breath waiting for the 2016 Michelin Red Guide results. Hired to take over the kitchen at Le Cinq in October 2014, Christian Le Squer had made no secret of his goal to attain a three-star rating. The chef, a native of France’s Brittany region, had become accustomed to three-star status in his 12 years heading up the kitchen at the Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris.

Joël Robuchon and businessman Bernard Magrez, opened La Grande Maison in Bordeaux too late at the end of 2014 to be inspected by Michelin for 2015. And in this year’s edition the world’s most starred chef got a ranking of two stars for the location.

Jean-François Piège impressed inspectors with his Grand Restaurant, which opened in Paris last September. Piège, a jury member from the French version of TV cooking contest Top Chef, gets two stars from the outset.

While the Michelin Guide shines the spotlight on Paris, Bordeaux has got the culinary world talking this year too, as Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay – freshly arrived at the Pressoir d’Argent gastronomic restaurant at the Grand Hôtel — got one star in the 2016 honors.

The Michelin Guide 2016 awarded 54 new stars for its 2016 edition, due out on February 5, in an ambiance overshadowed by the death of the renowned Franco-Swiss chef Benoît Violier.

Arc de triomphe New year eve 2015

The Champs-Elysées in Paris to host NYE countdown

Arc de triomphe New year eve 2015

For the first time, the  will close the streets off to cars and project a 3D mapping light show against the Arc de Triomphe for New Year’s Eve revelers.

Beginning at 11:45 pm, a light show themed after “la vie en rose” and the art of being a Parisian will be projected against the monument.

Likewise, the show will also feature an environmental theme to represent the important role Paris will play in 2015, when the city plays host to a major climate conference next year.

The spectacle will end with a countdown to midnight and lights shift skywards to mark the moment 2014 ends and 2015 begins.

The next day, the boulevard will remain closed to host a parade with bands and floats.

The Eiffel Tower also marks the New Year with a special light show, flashing a rainbow of colors and erupting in its signature sparkles.

Longchamp store in Hong Kong

Longchamp is finally getting a big Paris flagship

Longchamp store Champs Elysees

The French designer firm  has opened its biggest European store on Paris’ high-end shopping street, the Champs-Elysees.

Longchamp’s new store spans over 500 square meters at number 77 on the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, just around the corner from the famous gourmet restaurant Fouquet’s.

The firm’s chief executive, Jean Cassegrain, hopes the new store will attract not only Parisians but also “tourists, especially Asian shoppers, who are very important customers for us.”

Longchamp store Champs Elysees interior

The firm saw sales jump by 75% between 2010 and 2012 and has been opening new stores at a rate of 15-20 a year.

“It has really taken off, particularly in Asia. The Chinese are now our second-biggest clients after the French,” Cassegrain said.

The new space, with two floors, will serve as an elegant showcase for all of the label’s latest collections, including its famous Le Pliage bags and other handbags, in addition to luggage, shoes and women’s and men’s ready-to-wear apparel.

The World’s Most Expensive Shopping Streets

New York City’s famed 5th Avenue is no longer the most expensive street to lease a retail store According to a new report from Colliers International.

The average annual rent on Manhattan’s luxury shopping destination fell 10.7 percent from a year earlier to $1,250 a square foot as of March.

In first place now is the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris with a two percent increase to $1,256 a square foot.
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Louis Vuitton opens Champs-Elysees store Sunday amid legal battle

Louis Vuitton opened its Champs-Elysees store Sunday amid an ongoing national battle over the supposed day of rest.

French law only allows retailers that sell sporting, recreational, leisure and culture items in heavily trafficked tourist areas to open Sunday. The law is aimed to support “dominical rest.”

Louis Vuitton has argued that the store features a cultural element. The French Confederation of Christian Workers, or CFTC, and a federation of clothing and accessories vendors filed a complaint against the retailer.

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