Tag Archives: France

US Overtakes France as Top Ski Destination

US Overtakes France as Top Ski Destination

The United States overtook France to become the world’s top destination during the northern hemisphere winter ski season, thanks to a spate of bad weather, a French ski body has said.

Over the winter, France suffered a three percent fall in visitors, compared with a year earlier, putting it in second place behind the United States, while Austria took third place.

“We remain top in Europe,” insisted Laurent Reynaud of Domaines Skiables de France (DSF), a professional body which groups 238 ski lift operators across the country.

For several years, France and the United States have been vying for the top spot, which has been determined by levels of snowfall in the two countries.

Since the winter of 2008-2009, France has taken the top spot four times.

But during the winter season, its ranking slipped as a result of “a very difficult start (to the season) due to a lack of snow at low and medium altitudes, followed by changeable weather which disrupted operating conditions,” DSF said.

At the same time, visitor numbers jumped on the US West coast when compared with the previous winter when conditions had been very dry.

In France, tourist numbers have fallen across the board in recent months, notably in the wake of a wave of deadly Islamist attacks. Official figures show that in the first six months of 2016, the number of tourists visiting France fell by seven percent.

Parc du Cap: Riviera Apartments

Set on the Cap d’Antibes and ideally located for Juan les Pins, Parc du Cap boasts an enviable setting upon the Riviera coastline. Situated 15.6 km from Nice International Airport, and easily accessible by road, rail and plane, Parc du Cap residence will deliver a new level of quality, elegance and exclusivity in Cap d’Antibes. Parc du Cap is comprised of two five-storey buildings providing 88 apartments ranging from one bedroom to duplex and penthouses with roof top pools.


The development is situated in beautiful landscaped gardens with a tennis court and a spectacular pool, spa and gym area. There’s also private underground car parking together with a gated security entrance.


This article was first published in Palace.

Nobu Hotel Miami Beach

6 Luxury Hotels Opening 2016

With numerous hotels set to welcome guests as we venture into the tail end of 2016, we thought we would bring you up to date with a round up of six establishments everyone is anticipating, starting with the most obvious of course.

Trump International HotelTrump International Hotel, Washington DC

The Republican presidential candidate opened his latest hotel earlier this week in Washington DC. The Trump International Hotel sits on what was the Old Post Office Pavilion that is considered a historical landmark. The $200 million hotel is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is connected to the White House and the United States Capitol. While the hotel was originally slated to be completed in 2018, it seems that developers have been pushing the project ahead to be ready in time for the US election in November.

Nobu Hotel at Eden Roc Miami Beach

With actor Robert De Niro as his partner, chef Nobu Matsuhisa will open the doors to his third hotel later this week. Located at the Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort, the hotel was designed by David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group. Boasting 206 guest rooms and suites, the interior design was inspired by natural materials that bring to mind a Japanese beach house in the middle of Miami. Nobu Hospitality also operates Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and Nobu Hotel City of Dreams in Manila, Philippines.

Four Seasons Hotel New York DowntownGuest room at the Four Seasons New York Downtown

This will be the second Four Seasons hotel in the Tribeca district and is dubbed the little sister to the flagship New York property in Midtown. The hotel will open in the Tribeca district, a short stroll from the new World Trade Center, Wall Street and the Soho neighborhood and serve as a dual residential and hotel property. The 185 rooms are designed by Yabu Pushelberg. Dinner will be served by Wolfgang Puck and his CUT steakhouse restaurant and bar.

L’Hotel Barrière Les Neiges Courchevel

The French hotel group is set to open a five-star ski chalet in the French Alps. Featuring 42 alpine-inspired rooms that are made of wood and stone, the accommodation promises luxury. Located in the heart of the Trois Vallées, the largest ski domain in the world, the hotel will also feature a cinema, spa and Fouquet’s brasserie, modeled after the iconic restaurant on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Fouquet’s is also part of the Barrière group.

Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at VoavahFour Seasons Private Island Maldives

Located on a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve in Baa Atoll, Maldives, this luxury hotel and resort is one for those who prefer an ultra-secluded and exclusive private island getaway. The reserve is home to one of the largest groups of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and to a globally significant biodiversity. The property, which opens at the end of this year, spans five acres and can accommodate just 22 people in the seven-bedroom beach house. It also comes with a dive center, spa and 62-foot superyacht.

Hilton Bali Resort

Bali is set to get a new sprawling luxury resort destination under the Hilton brand. Perched on a 40-meter high cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Hilton Bali Resort will feature 408 suites and villas, a secluded beach with designated surf area, spa and nail salon, seven restaurants including Japanese, Balinese and Italian cuisines, indoor tennis courts, and open-air amphitheater, gardens, conference centers and chapel for destination weddings.


Paris Motor Show Exhibits Iconic Screen Cars

If the cars on the silver screen and telly have captured your attention more that the protagonists themselves, then this is one exhibition you need to include to your Paris itinerary. Happening from October 1 – 16, the “Moteur! L’automobile fait son cinéma” (“Action! Cars from the movies”) exhibition is held in tandem with the Paris Motor Show, and will stage some of the most iconic cars audiences have seen.


The Chevrolet Camaro from “Transformers”

These include the Jeep Wrangler from Jurassic Park, Chevrolet Camaro from Transformers, Plymouth Fury from Christine (main image and a tasty classic treat) and the Alfa Spider Duetto from The Graduate. And if James Bond’s exclusively manufactured Aston Martin DB10 took your breath away in Spectre, we’re certain seeing it in the flesh (or metal) will leave you in awe.


The Citroën DS from “The Mentalist”

The Citroën DS 21 from The Mentalist will also go on show. The classic car – heralded with the nickname “Goddess” – was widely known for being technically superior for its time and highly distinctive with its inimitable curves.


James Bond’s Aston Martin DB10 from “Spectre”
© Aston Martin

Happening at Hall 8 of the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition center, the retrospective event is the brainchild of many dedicated organizations – British carmaker Aston Martin, together with French film and TV studio distributor Canal+, the French federation of cinema stunt doubles (Fédération des cascadeurs français du cinéma – FCFC), the French federation of historical vehicles (Fédération française des véhicules d’époque – FFVE) and France’s national audiovisual institute (Institut national de l’audiovisuel – INA), which holds French radio and TV archives. If you’re visiting the Paris Motor Show anyway, this is a worthy side attraction.

jeep-wrangler-jurassic park

The Jeep Wrangler Sahara from “Jurassic Park”

Paul Cezanne painting

Paris Auction Workers Steal from Dead

A group of Paris auction workers realized an essential truth: the dead don’t miss their belongings and they tell no tales. Some 35 porters at leading auction house Hotel Drouot were convicted in a French court of pilfering thousands of valuable items from the estates of the deceased. To add insult to injury, they had been doing so for years and were hardly low-key about it. Not to worry though, they’ll get the chance to think on their crimes while in prison, which is where some are going.

The BBC reports that the porters saw grave-robbing as an occupational perk and were aided and abetted in their twisted ways by three auctioneers, who received suspended jail terms. The defence team called the thefts “salvaging” during the trial. Hotel Drouot itself pleaded ignorance and supported the prosecution. Amazingly, the AFP reports that even though one of the porters owned a Porsche 911 this only aroused suspicion, not action. It took an anonymous tip for authorities to catch one of the porters in possession of a missing painting by 19th century French artist Gustave Courbet. It was curtains for the rest of the crew shortly after.

How did the porters manage these thefts? It was reported at the trial that they took advantage of their roles in clearing out the homes of the dead and transporting items to Hotel Drouot. They sold the items much later.

Peterhof-Grand-Palace-St. Petersburg-Russia

St. Petersburg Named Europe’s Leading Destination

Go just about anywhere in Europe and you’ll find yourself immersed in a plethora of cultures and breathtaking scenery. To decide the best destination then, is no easy task, but the World Travel Awards have gathered the opinions of travel experts, tourism leaders and the general public to award St. Petersburg the accolade.

Built from scratch by the westward-looking Peter the Great, the former Russian imperial capital exudes an elegance and old world charm that is unique to Europe with regal baroque palaces and an intricate web of canals and bridges. The City of Tsars was chosen over strong rivals such as Barcelona, Berlin, Dubrovnik, Lisbon, London, Paris and Rome.

With a multitude of exceptional museums and stellar gastronomic fare, Lyon also took the title of Europe’s leading city break destination, surpassing Berlin, Bordeaux, Venice and Dublin. The bustling city in France is not only steeped with culinary history, but is also developing a name for itself as an electronic music hub. The Nuit Sonores, a music festival that gathers some of the best local and international DJs is testament to this.


The Peninsula Paris

The European edition of the World Travel awards also sees the Ritz Paris being crowned the continent’s leading city break hotel. The historic 1898 five-star hotel recently reopened after a $450 million renovation after four years, and is reputed for its unrivaled service and bars that once hosted many a literary figure, such as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The title of leading luxury hotel went to the ultra-glamorous Peninsula Paris.

Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
© Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Meanwhile, Lufthansa continues to dominate in the leading airline category, snagging Europe’s leading airline for the seventh year in a row, while the Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul was named leading hotel for the fifth consecutive year.

Check out the full list of winners at World Travel Awards now.

Duval-Leroy Champagne Estate Welcomes Visitors

Duval-Leroy Champagne Estate Welcomes Visitors

France’s Duval-Leroy champagne house is celebrating the upcoming grape harvest with day-long immersion experiences offering wine-tasting and a look behind the scenes of this key stage in the wine-making process.

Known for the refined, elegant nature of its wines, the champagne house located in Vertus, France, is a heavyweight of the official champagne-growing region. More than 250 Michelin-starred restaurants serve one of the house’s tipples, such as the emblematic “Femme de Champagne” vintage.

For the first time, the family has accepted to open the doors of its estate to wine lovers during the upcoming grape harvest – a crucial time for any wine grower. Duval-Leroy has developed a special tour for anyone curious to discover a typical day in the life of a grape picker, without having to sign up for a whole season’s work. During the upcoming harvest, wine lovers are invited to grab a pair of secateurs and follow the instructions of the full-time harvesters. A lunch – an important moment that traditionally brings together all the seasonal workers – will then be served in the vineyard. In the afternoon, “students” will visit the estate and sample the house’s “vins clairs,” the base wines used to make Champagne. This is a rare opportunity for fans of the bubbly stuff to discover the wines used in champagne’s “assemblage” process, before it gets its fizz. The tour costs €50 (approx. $56) per person.

For those with more cash to splash (€300 or approx. $336 per person), a second “immersion” experience concludes the same program of events with a gastronomic dinner, cooked by the Duval-Leroy in-house chef. This champagne-steeped meal promises to tantalize taste buds with stuffed macaroni, black truffles, asparagus and foie gras. Participants can also enjoy a wine-tasting lesson from the cellar master in person. The estate’s “vins clairs” feature on the agenda, along with the chance to sample one of the estate’s most prestigious vintages.

The grape harvest in France’s champagne region is expected to take pace in mid-September. The country’s most northerly wine-growing region experienced challenging weather conditions at the beginning of the year. Almost a quarter of the area in the official champagne-producing region was hit by frost at the end of April. Hail and rain in the springtime brought further damage. The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), which represents growers and producers, reported this summer that certain sectors saw twice the average rainfall seen over the last 20 years.

Duval-Leroy Champagne Estate Welcomes Visitors

The Duval-Leroy estate in Vertus, France

Cannes Yachting Festival 2016

As the summer months get into full swing, the yachting world heads to the South of France for the Cannes Yachting Festival. September 6 to 11 will see more than 50,000 visitors descend on Vieux Port and Port Pierre Canto, where they can expect to see 100 world premieres and as many as 600 boats displayed both on land and in the water. The Cannes Yachting Festival is also one of the few shows where prospective buyers can conduct sea trials by testing the vessels in the surrounding waters.

The Vieux Port will be the home of many special exhibitions including the Palais des Festival. This space will include the latest water toys and tenders alongside the beach, as well as many banks, interior designers, architects and shipyards. New for this year is La Terrasse, a special area for the luxury industry stakeholders. It will include automobiles, watches, jewellery, private aviation, prestigious property, gastronomy, tableware, couture houses, leather and saddles, furniture & design, art & photography, hotel, high-tech products, perfume & beauty, premium services as well as luxury yachts.

The Jetee hosts the engine manufacturers, service exhibitors and the world’s largest shipyards. There’s the Super Yachts Extension which will feature motor and sailing yachts above 25m. Some will be as large as 55m. A tender area is also located here. A further four areas can be found at Vieux Port including the Catamarans area, the Pantiero displaying smaller high-end motor boats, the Quai Saint-Pierre with boats in the 12 to 25m range and the Quai Max Laubeuf where the festival started and where over 160 vessels will be on display. Port Pierre Canto will have on display around 50 second-hand yachts in the 22m to 50m range.

Making their premiere at the show will be the Oceanis Yacht 62 from Beneteau, the Prestige Yachts 630, two sailboats from Sirena Marine, the Azuree 41’ and Euphoria 68’ and the Numarine 78HT. The Numarine 60 Flybridge will also make its European debut. Canados will be using the show to launch the Oceanic 76’ GT, while giving a preview of the Gladiator 42’, Gladiator 76’ and Canados 971 Coliseum which will be arriving in 2017. Not to be outdone, Sanlorenzo will have the world premiere for their SL78 (pictured top). A 25m, made to order fiberglass motor yacht, with a planing hull.

On the catamaran front, Sunreef will be debuting three yachts. The Supreme 68 Power Catamaran will make her world debut and the Supreme 68 Sailing Catamaran Midori and the Sunreef 74 19th Hole will make their European debuts. Also for 2016, the Concours d’Elegance competition is back after a successful debut in 2015. This event allows owners to enter boats sized 12m or less. No more than 20 boats can compete. There will be two categories: boats manufactured before 1980 and after 1980.

This article was first published in Yacht Style Magazine.

Bad Weather Hurts French Wine Output

Bad Weather Hurts French Wine Output

Lovers of fine champagne take note as vintage 2016 looks like it will be in short supply. Fierce storms that hit France in April will help to push wine production down almost 10 percent this year on 2015 output, the ministry of agriculture announced last week.

Unseasonably cool weather through the spring and into the summer will drag overall production down to 42.9 million hectoliters from 47.8 million a year ago, a seven percent fall on a five-year basis, according to the ministry’s statistical service Agreste.

In revising down its outlook, Agreste blamed “the spring freeze that hit certain winegrowing areas, recurring winds made worse by drought around the Mediterranean and damage stemming from frost.”

Champagne was one of the worst hit regions after several bouts of spring frost and hailstorms which are forecast to drag output down by as much as one third, leading to harvesting being already a week behind schedule based on a 10-yearly average.

The inclement weather means France, which has also had to battle outbreaks of rot and mildew, will likely remain behind Italy, which last year claimed the crown as the world’s biggest wine producer.

Normandy Camembert won the coveted AOP, or Protected Designation of Origin 33 years ago. © poplasen / Istock.com

Making Real Camembert Cheese: Endangered Tradition

One may think that France the holy land of cheese, with all due respect to the Italians, Swiss, English and Germans. Even so, globalization has triggered a culinary battle between industrial producers and traditional producers of cheese. Take the world-famous Camembert cheese for example. Only one traditional fromagerie still stands today, producing the authentic Camembert cheese that the region is renowned for: the Durand family.

Dairy producers “are really in dire straits,” said Nicolas Durand, 43, owner of the Heronniere farm in the northwestern French region of Normandy where Europe’s biggest dairy group Lactalis has bought out numerous farms like his.

Today, Durand’s seven employees turn 90 percent of the milk from his 90 cows into 700 to 800 cheeses a day, up from 600 in the year 2000. But still, a small producer like him can only rely on direct distribution. Lactalis, the biggest mass-produced Camembert maker today, distributes to supermarkets in France and abroad.

If one would ask someone at a Heronniere farm how a “Durand” differs from a factory-produced Camembert, they will laugh, saying even the question is an “insult”. Durand claims that his cheese is not only AOP (Protected Designation of Origin) labeled, but also has a “fermier” texture. It is also entirely made with milk from cows in their own farm, which preserves the taste and quality. A cheese seller from the Normandy port of Caen commented that Durand’s Camembert “has a stronger, richer scent.” It couldn’t be compared with Lactalis’ Camembert, which was made from pasteurized milk rather than raw milk.

However, industrial versions will always be the cheaper option. Durand Camembert fetches 4.40 euros (about $5) on the farm and 5.60 euros (about $7) at the Caen merchant’s store. The production process of the Camembert cheese is certainly complex (due to its artisanal culinary heritage) and time-consuming. While Durand’s supply is necessarily limited, demand is strong and the farm is already attracting some 10,000 visitors a year.

He is working with partners to develop his marketing strategy and to gain more interest from tourists.


Bottled Luxury: Les Parfums Louis Vuitton

You might know Louis Vuitton for its timeless leather accessories and sturdy travel trunks, but now, the French luxury brand is also delving into the world of fragrances. As the first series in almost a century, it’s safe to say that the Maison is going all out in achieving the perfect scents for the collection, entitled Les Parfums Louis Vuitton.

The seven scents – Rose des Vents, Turbulences, Dans la Peau, Apogee, Contre Moi, Matiere Noire and Mille Feux – were exclusively designed by master perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud using special extraction techniques, so you can expect the purest of floral and leather – no surprises there – accents within.

The fragrances are set to be released in 100- and 200-ml sizes, and cost $240 and $350 respectively.

Find out more about Les Parfums Louis Vuitton at L’Officiel.com now.

Great Barrier Reef

Round the World Itineraries: Global Traveler

Those bitten by the travel bug will be happy to know that the gruelling task of finalising an itinerary for a holiday has been well and truly taken care of. Catering to various travel needs, Star Alliance has teamed up with its 28 member carriers for several themed holidays.

Lovers of cuisine high and Low have the option of visiting countries such as Lyon in France for the signature Lyonnaise sausages, Seoul for the delicious beef ribs and galbi or even New York to sample the wonderful melting pot of cuisines. To reconnect with Mother Nature, travelers will be able to venture to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Sugarloaf mountains of Rio de Janeiro and the Northern Lights of Norway.

If a romantic getaway is what you are looking for, then Star Alliance has a selection of destinations as well. From gondolas rides in Venice, to island getaways in the Maldives, Santorini and Phuket or a trip to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the romance themed itinerary is sure to send sparks flying. Customizing ones itinerary is fairly simple: select the closest airport as the starting point and then choose from the destinations included in the package.

Getting to your destination of choice is just as simple, as Star Alliance counts the likes of Air Canada, United, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and All Nippon Airways as some of its members. Rival alliance One World also offers round-the-world fares with member carriers such as British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Other companies that have ventured into the world of well planned holidays include the Four Seasons, with The Four Seasons Private Jet Journeys on board their new fleet of private jets. Starting from $106,000 the package includes culinary and cultural packages.


Attend These: 6 Design Exhibitions, Paris

You might already be familiar with big-name shows such as Maison & Objet (from September 2 – 6) and Paris Design Week (September 3 – 10), but there are a number of smaller, off-beat gems in every corner of the French capital to check out too. Here are six design exhibitions even the most critical of design fans would love.

Muji Pop-Up Exhibition, September 2 – 25 2016; Rue des Blancs Manteaux

The Muji pop up exhibition will focus on the brand’s visual identity. © Muji

Founded in Japan in 1980, Muji’s “no-brand” branding ironically made it a household name with its focus on product quality above all else. It is easy to see how one of its founders, Ikko Tanaka – an integral Japanese designer in the 20th century – conveyed the Muji spirit to everything, including the poster designs; a selection of these will be on display at the pop-up exhibition next month.

“Roger Tallon, Design in Motion”, September 8, 2016 – January 8, 2017; Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Roger Tallon and his models for the TGV 001, TGV Duplex, and TGV Atlantique trains.
© Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / A.D.A.G.P. 2016

Highly regarded as one of France’s pioneering industrial designer, Roger Tallon might have passed away in 2011 but his remarkable work lives on. He was responsible for the design of many trains, such as the TGV Duplex, the Eurostar and the Montmartre funicular railway. Throughout his 60-year career, the prolific designer also had the route maps for the RER (Paris’ suburban rail network), Wimpy chair M400 spiral staircase, 3T tableware and Teleavia portable TV to his name. Now, many of his lesser-known works in the form of drawings, photos, documents and models – which he donated to the museum in 2008 – will finally be on display to public.

“The Spirit of Bauhaus”, October 19, 2016 – February 26, 2017; Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Poster for the 1923 Bauhaus Exhibition in Weimar.
© Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin

Marcel Breur, creator of tubular furniture, and photographer Florence Henri (student of Paul Klee and Vassily Kandinsky) both had one thing in common: they both attended the Bauhaus art school in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin from 1919 to 1933. The institution, famous for producing many influential artists and designers brought about a new approach to daily living by bridging the gap between all disciplines of art, including music, photography, architecture and even engineering. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs pays homage to this artistic movement by not only displaying original Bauhaus pieces, but also via the historical periods and their art forms which fueled the school’s spirit.

Exhibition of Jean Nouvel furniture, October 27 – February 12, 2017; Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Triptychs, 2014, walnut and colored mirrors (Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Segui).
© Aline Coquelle

You might know Jean Nouvel for his architectural work but his furniture designs are mostly unknown pleasures. From 1987 to present day, the French architect has more than a hundred designs to his name. These will be displayed in various parts of the museum together with their advertising campaigns, of which he also designed in 1998.

“1976-2016: 40 Years of Magis Dreams”, August 31 – October 3, 2016; Pompidou Centre store (main image)

Italian furniture company Magis celebrates its 40th anniversary this year with a retrospective of its history and most recent collections. The mini exhibition, which coincides with Paris Design Week, will also feature Magis’ symbolic cast iron mule, which was specially designed by the brand’s 76-year-old founder, Eugenio Perazza.

AD Interiors exhibition dedicated to collections, September 3 – 18 2016; Monnaie de Paris

The Ora-Ito-designed kitchen for the 2016 AD Interiors exhibition which this year is dedicated to collections.
© Ora-ïto / “AD Intérieurs 2016, Univers de collectionneurs”

Six years ago, Architectural Digest magazine celebrated its 10th anniversary with its first AD Interiors exhibition, where 10 handpicked designers and interior decorators had to design a room using their style and expertise. For this year’s iteration, participants –including Ora-Ïto, Tristan Auer and Fabrice Ausset – have to create décor for a room based on the theme of the collections.

Château La Coste, Provence, France.

Château La Coste: Contemporary Wine

Located just a few kilometers from the southern French town of Aix-en-Provence, Château La Coste is building a reputation across Europe as a beacon for architecture and contemporary art. It is even possible to take a tour of its art works and architectural structures (15 euros for an adult ticket). After the vineyard was acquired by Northern Ireland native Patrick McKillen in 2004, an open-air gallery was built for artists to show their work. The 200-hectare property is dotted with pieces by Tadao Ando, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder and Frank O. Gehry.

A spider by the French artist Louise Bourgeois

A spider by the French artist Louise Bourgeois

What’s new this summer?

Since 2015, a gallery space designed by the architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte has held temporary solo exhibitions. Irish-born American-based artist Sean Scully was the first to inhabit the space, and this year Korean artist Lee Ufan is holding an exhibition of his work following his Château de Versailles show in 2014. His latest works are an extension of his “House of Air,” a chapel-like structure which has been a feature of the château’s artistic experience since 2014. Visitors can also explore the château’s art works at night during the summer season (5 euros a ticket).

The big news for 2016 is that a luxury hotel called Villa La Coste is opening on the site this summer. It will offer individual suites among the vines. Note that Château La Coste won the 2015 prize for wine tourism awarded by the French magazine Revue du Vin de France.

Korean artist Lee Ufan’s "House of Air" at Château La Coste

Korean artist Lee Ufan’s “House of Air” at Château La Coste

The estate

Château La Coste is proud of its environmental approach and achieved organic status in 2009. Even the old vines are worked organically. Mathieu Cosse, the vineyard’s winemaker, is aiming for a biodynamic vineyard and the conversion process is underway.

The Franck O. Gehry music pavilion at Château La Coste

The Franck O. Gehry music pavilion at Château La Coste

The wines

The wines are categorized as AOP (Protected Appellation of Origin) Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. The vines cover a total of 125 hectares, with 22 hectares of white wine grapes, including the Rolle/Vermentino variety (45%). Red wine grapes account for 103 hectares, and include a substantial proportion of the Grenache Noir variety (40%). The vineyard produces 45% rosé wine, 35% red wine and 20% white wine, and its total annual production is 700,000 bottles. La Coste has two major labels for its reds and whites: Grand Vin and Pentes Douces.

Château les Carmes-Haut-Brion vineyards 2016

Château les Carmes-Haut-Brion: 21st Century Winery

Behold the new cellar of Château les Carmes-Haut-Brion, a winery that dates back to 1584…yes this ultra-modern building is a wine cellar. It looks more like a contemporary art sculpture that might interest our friends at Art Republik. In fact, the gleaming edifice in Bordeaux is indeed the newest cellar facility in the vineyard. designed by Philippe Starck and Luc Arsène-Henry, it just screams out for a proper visit and tasting, which is just what the AFP Relaxnews is doing. Previous tours have gone to Château de Béru and Bollinger.Château les Carmes-Haut-Brion

Bought over by the Pichet group in 2010, the Château les Carmes-Haut-Brion is one that combines traditional winemaking with modern architecture. In the trusted hands of designer Starck and architect Arsène-Henry, the new facilities, which cost 10 million euros, are all set to produce a 2015 vintage that we hope to enjoy. One key element that stands out for its design, is the barrel cellar. The futuristic building has many torn as some see it as an upturned boat surrounded by vines while others view its as the blade of a knife planted in the soil.

Spanning 2,000 square meters and four levels, the building provides a view of the Bordeaux vineyards with a roof terrace. Embracing its strong ties to the art world, the Pichet Group even has a vat in the cellar that was painted by the designer’s daughter, Ara Starck. It is the first in a series which will involve a new artist being given carte blanche every year. Those looking to visit Château les Carmes-Haut-Brion, a one-hour tour of the vineyard that covers the barrel cellar and the rest of the property. To cap off the tour, guests can sample two of the estate’s two wines: Château les Carmes-Haut Brion and Le Clos des Carmes Haut-Brio.

Château les Carmes-Haut-Brion

Vat painted by Ara Starck

What makes this estate a producer of wine that forms the benchmark of Pessac-Léognan wine is the location where the milder weather reduces the risk of cracks. The owners favor integrated grape growing, and the soil (which consists of gravel, clay and sand) is only treated with natural products. The grapes are harvested by hand. Les Carmes-Haut Brion is a respected wine often mentioned in best wine guides. Ideally located between Bordeaux, Pessac and Mérignac, the château produces wines that are highly sought after all around the world. Its reds are renowned for their elegance and balance. This delicacy is well known to wine lovers eager to take their Les Carmes-Haut Brion on an aging journey.

Bollinger Champagne Cellar

Bollinger Vintage Wine Cellars Open To Public

Fans of champagne would be no strangers to the prestigious Bollinger R.D. 2002, brewed by the storied house of Bollinger. Renowned for being the official supplier to the British court (it received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria in 1884), as well as for its “Special Cuvee” champagnes, this 2016, the French label is celebrating its past with two new cellars.


Before we delve a little into the new cellars, however, one needs to look back six years for more context. The scene is set in Ay, France, in the year 2010, where a collection of very old wines – with the oldest dating back to 1830 – was found hidden behind a section of the estate’s cellar. As a result, Bollinger launched a project to restore and rehouse its stocks of old wine, compiling them into an “oenotheque”, or a wine library. The fruits of this labor are the two new cellars, of which the “Galerie 1829” cellar is home to all of the estate’s old wines, while the “La Reserve” cellar houses Bollinger’s reserve magnums.


Should you wish to check out the 3,000 magnums stored in the dark and quiet conditions of these specially made cellars, Bollinger’s oenotheques can be visited by appointment.

The Bollinger Champagne Estate is located in Ay, France.

The Bollinger Champagne Estate is located in Ay, France.

Champagne Bollinger, 16 rue Jules-Lobet, 51160 Ay, France.

Marion Cotillard Awarded Legion d’Honneur

Marion Cotillard is an Oscar-winning actress and spokesperson who has captivated us with her performances in movies such as “La Vie en rose” — for which she won the award no less— and “Inception”. Now, the 40-year-old can add recipient of the Legion d’Honneur to an already impressive portfolio.

Unfortunately, events have conspired to turn July 14 tragic this year. Our thoughts are with the victims of the Nice Bastille Day attack and the people of France.

Awarded three times a year, the first at the start of the year followed by Easter and on Bastille Day, it is in fact France’s highest honor. The actress was among 650 civilians and military personnel whose names we were published in the government’s official journal, on a day that the country celebrated its independence.

In the past, Cotillard received the country’s highest award for artistic talent and holds the title as the first French woman to win America’s top acting prize since 1960. Among other recipients of the prestigious award announced Thursday were photographers Raymond Depardon and Sebastiao Salgado.

Foie Gras Shortage After Bird Flu Outbreak

Expect soaring prices and shortages when it comes to foie gras, warned Jean-Jacques Caspari, managing director of Rougie (a brand of the world’s largest foie gras maker Euralis). Due to the outbreak of the highly virulent H5N1 bird flu virus last November, Caspari estimates that the foie gras industry still has 12 to 18 months to full recovery. This does not bode well for fans of the fatty and somewhat controversial (see below) delicacy.

“We can expect an increase in the price of foie gras of between 10 and 20 percent,” noted Caspari, who added that this year would see a 25 percent drop in production. Exports are also expected to drop from 4,560 tonnes in 2015 to 3,160 tonnes this year, which translates to an estimated loss of 270 million euros ($300 million) for the industry.

While a potential cause of despair for France (which usually produces a whopping 75 percent of the world’s foie gras), this may be good news for rival producers like Hungary and Bulgaria. The latter are now expected to make inroads where France has halted export.

Even sans the current supply issue, foie gras has not been without controversy, with the delicacy a battleground between campaigners of animal rights and defenders of French traditional gourmet fare. Regardless, French abattoirs will be allowed to continue producing foie gras come August 16, when new force-fed birds (that’s how foie gras is produced) will be available for slaughter.

France Honors Chirac’s Indigenous Art Museum

A decade ago, former French president Jacques Chirac was mocked for, of all things, his ideas about art. His plans to create a Paris museum dedicated to the indigenous art and cultures of Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas were deemed an “ill-judged disaster which bordered on being racist.” Today, however, the Musee du quai Branly has seen 14 million visitors pass through its doors, and is widely hailed as a massive popular success and a bridge between people.

In honor of Chirac’s efforts towards the creation of the museum, it has been renamed the Musee du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac. Citing a deep-seated interest in the arts of Africa and the Pacifics as his motivation, Chirac believed in the necessity of an indigenous art museum, battling detractors who were outraged that ritual objects and artifacts would be presented simply as art. Chirac-France-Museum-masque

As a tribute to its creator, the museum will display a new show tracing Chirac’s lifelong fascination with indigenous art, featuring an 18th century Japanese Buaku theater mask that closely resembles the retired politician. The exhibition was attended by the current French President Francois Hollande, who praised his longtime rival for his stubborn commitment to the project.

“What was obvious to Jacques Chirac, was how could the Lourve remain a great museum if it ignores 70 percent of the world’s population?” stated Hollande.

Top Bordeaux 2015 Vintage Lifts Prices

The banner year enjoyed by Bordeaux winegrowers in 2015 will allow the most prestigious chateaux to hike their prices by some 60 percent, equaling the great vintages of 2009 and 2010, experts said. But the price tags on second-tier Bordeaux will rise only by between five and 35 percent, they added.

The boon follows a relative drought that saw only two vintages deemed “good” in the past few years, those of 2011 and 2014. The ideal growing conditions of 2015 produced what wine critics called an “exceptional” vintage with prices to match.

The top grands crus – a classification dating to 1855 – are on average 56 percent dearer than in 2014, at around 600 euros ($685) a bottle in the wine shop.

“These are the luxury labels, in demand around the world,” one dealer said, voicing annoyance at “Bordeaux-bashing” claims that the wines are over-priced.

The 2015 grand cru prices may shock, coming after a fall in prices following the spikes of 2009 and 2010, said Thomas Hebrard, president and founder of U’wine, a dealer for wine investors.

The star quality of the 2015 vintage will be a major boost for the Bordeaux region, further aided by the weak euro, he said.