Tag Archives: France

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.

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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.

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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.

Indulge in These: 5 Luxury Residences for Summer

There are holiday rentals, and then there are luxury holiday rentals. If you’re planning that well-deserved break, might as well do so in absolute class and opulence. With rental services companies such as Airbnb on the rise, travelers have been shifting their preferences for hotels to these more homely options.  Whether you’re in the exotic Seychelles, or perched atop the French Alps, make yourself right at home with these five dream properties.

At the summit

Lease of Luxury_LO_Courchevel

Name: Le Hameau de la Volière.

Where: Courchevel 1850, in the French Alps. Amid the lush vegetation of the Chenus, at an altitude of 1,850m (which gives the town its name) and a stone’s throw away from the centre of Courchevel 1850. Right by the skiing pistes, with unblocked views of the valley.

What: A trio of ultra-luxurious chalets in pale wood. Exotically named Les Bastidons, Cryst’aile and Nanuq, each comes with five rooms bathed in natural light over three or four levels, all designed by Christophe Tollemer in an exquisite, contemporary style.

Capacity: 12 persons per chalet.

Services: Evok Hôtels Collection, managers of this property, have provided everything, and more: indoor pool, spa (with Clarins products, no less), gym, wine cellar, and a home cinema.

Extras: Personal chef, butler, fitness instructor on demand.

Price: €40,000 (S$62,000) per week for 12, or €3,300 per person.

www.voliere-courchevel.com

Private island

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Name: Cousine Island.

Where: The Seychelles; 6 km south-west of Praslin Island.

What: A little private tropical paradise caressed by the waves of the Indian Ocean, Cousine Island had until recently only had four pretty villas decorated in a graceful colonial style. A new presidential villa was launched in April this year. Nestled amid the luxuriant vegetation, but at only 30 m from the beach, the 625 sqm villa contains two spacious suites with bathrooms, a study, living room, dining room, gym and spa. To get around, guests use the electric golf carts.

Capacity: 16 to 20 persons for the five villas.

Services: For the presidential villa: A butler, a chef and a chambermaid.

Extras: The Guest Conservation Ambassador, an ambitious eco-system sustainability program that encourages guests to participate in the conservation of this exceptional natural environment.

Price: On request.

www.cousineisland.com

Blue sky

Lease of Luxury_LO_Paros Villa Lavinia 1

Name: Villa Lavinia.

Where: Paros, in the Cyclades islands, a 30-minute flight from Athens. On a hill overlooking the port of Naoussa.

What: A large, all-white and recently built villa, with an adjoining two-bedroom guesthouse. The main villa contains five double rooms on two levels (with verandahs on the upper floor) and a bright, sun-lit interior, blending perfectly with the modern décor. The guesthouse has direct access to the charming garden featuring olive tress and aromatic herbs. Day beds next to the pool and a large outdoor reception area ideal for barbecues.

Capacity: 14 persons.

Services: Daily cleaning, cooked breakfasts and concierge services.

Extras: The magnificent Kolymbithres beach with its beautiful sand and enormous granite formations is just a few minutes away on foot.

Price: €15,000 per week.

www.brightbluevillas.com

Barefoot

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Name: Villas Stylia

Where: In the village of Trou d’Eau Douce, on the east coast of Mauritius. In a pretty garden at the edge of one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. A 10-minute boat ride from l’Ile aux Cerfs.

What: Six modern, comfortable villas recently opened by Patrice Hardy (ex CEO of the Naïade Group) and his son Alexandre. Four villas with a garden view, and two villas with direct access to the lagoon. The beach is a mere 50m from the garden. Each villa contains three bedrooms (including one for kids with bunk beds) and three bathrooms, as well as a vast open concept living-cum-dining room that give on to the private pool.

Capacity: Up to nine persons per villa.

Services: Service staff including villa manager, concierge, gardeners. On demand: massages, airport transfers, personal chauffeur, guide, baby-sitter, car or scooter rentals.

Extras: A shared kitchen with a chef who will cook breakfast and delectable meals at reasonable prices. The chef can also prepare dinners or barbecues by the beach.

Price: From €200 per villa per night.

www.myvillasmauritius.com

TRANSPARENCY

Lease of Luxury_LO_Rua Iposeira 150-11

Name: Villa Iposeira.

Where: Rio de Janeiro. In the São Corado neighbourhood, within 10 minutes of Ipanema.

What: A futuristic architect’s villa. Completely see-through, the house is the centrepiece of a four-hectare park with lovely palm trees and a fountain. No walls can be found here, just immense bay windows that give incomparable views of the ocean and nature. There are even three majestic trees taking pride of place in the large drawing room… The 900 sqm of the villa boast not only elegant reception rooms with tasteful contemporary art pieces, but also four luxurious en-suite rooms. The dining room with its imposing table can accommodate up to 20 lucky guests.

Capacity: Eight persons.

Services: On demand.

Extras: A huge infinity pool.

Price: From €700 a night.

www.whereinrio.com

 

This story first appeared in a slightly different form in L’Officiel Singapore.

Beat Generation Exhibit Opens At Centre Pompidou

The spirit of the road embodied by the Beat Generation seems to have experienced a resurgence this decade, especially with the release of movies like On The Road and Kill Your Darlings. Both contained high-profile names such as Kristen Stewart and Daniel Radcliffe in their cast. While these movies didn’t exactly fare well in terms of their critical reception, at least they show how many are still enamored with the rebellious ideology of the literary and artistic movement. Now, the Centre Pompidou in France will be paying homage to them with an exhibition outlining their influence on culture as a whole.

The Beat Generation

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The movement was kickstarted by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs, as well as a variety of friends and acquaintances surrounding them. Their literature was unabashedly about the rawness of life – drawing inspiration from earlier movements such as the Surrealists and the Dadaists. Kerouac’s seminal On The Road was written in a fever pitch solely from his own life experiences, dictating a journey across America that he took, and the adventures he had along the way. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, on the other hand, was a psychedelic and purposefully obscene novel that gained landmark notoriety when it was placed at the center of an obscenity trial for its content. Beyond their literary output though, it was the lives and personalities involved that were the primary draw.

The trio met in New York, and then shifted over to San Francisco on the USA’s west coast. From 1957 onwards they took to Europe by setting up in Paris. The city’s Beat Hotel proved a particular focal point – with the trio, and other regular beatnik guests like Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky and Brion Gysin.

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Much like Andy Warhol’s Factory set much later, the Beat Generation artists and writers epitomized recklessness and freedom. The drug use, Buddhist undertones, and backpacker attitude of the beatniks transferred over into the 1970s hippy movement, and the rest from there is history. What the Centre Pompidou aims to showcase in their exhibition is exactly this ‘centerless-ness’ that so embodies the movement.

The Exhibit

The exhibition will be split geographically into sections – covering New York, California, and Paris – as well as smaller sections on Mexico and Tangiers.

The New York section focuses on the relationship between the literature and music – especially Jazz music, which was a primary influence on Kerouac’s writing and Ginsberg’ poetry. It also goes into the technology of the age such as vinyl records and typewriters. These were especially important to Burroughs, who developed a method called the ‘cut-up technique’ that utilized mixing together different fragments in audio recording and printed media to achieve new literary effects. The California area focuses on the general literary and artistic scene from 1952 to 1965. This was the primary period where much of the movement’s breakthrough works were released.

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The Mexico section explores many factors that drew beatniks over the border, including the country’s violent yet magical appeal. Tangiers looks into the influence of trance music recorded by composer-artist Paul Bowles, who met the Beat Generation writers over there. Finally, the exhibition ends in Paris – going into the poetry written at the Beat Hotel.

Since live readings and concerts were an important facet in the movement, there will be several of those – as well as meetings, films, and other events accompanying the exhibition.

For any Beat Generation fans still out there, this definitely makes for an exhibition not to be missed. It’s running now, all the way to October 3 2016.

Park Hyatt Vendôme Offers Best Value Luxury

While the term ‘affordable luxury’ may seem an oxymoron, a recent study conducted by the research firm Consultourisme has discovered which luxury hotel offers the best value out there. The 5-star Park Hyatt Vendôme was discovered to be the least expensive option out of all the ‘Palace’ hotels located in Paris.

The vaunted ‘Palace’ status is only awarded to the most prestigious hotels in the country. The city of Paris itself happens contain eight of these ‘Palaces’ – out of a total of 16. Consultourisme (which did the study for Tourmag.com) did a first comparison of rates in February for a two-night stay in a double room from April 1 to 3. A second comparison was carried out mid-May for a weeknight booking for the following day for a one-night stay in a double room with breakfast. From this, the researchers managed to check out which of the Paris ‘Palaces’ offered the best in terms of price.

In both cases, the Park Hyatt Vendôme proved the least expensive option at a rate of €1,394 for two nights booked in advance or €868.80 for a single night booked last minute. On the other hand, none of the hotels really stood out as the most expensive. The priciest two-night stay booked in advance came in at €3,167.50 at the Plaza Athénée, whereas the Royal Monceau topped the list for last-minute one-night bookings at €1,316. Of course, all this is dependent on the season and events being held in Paris, such as the popular fashion weeks. Prices are also dependent on whether it’s on a weekends or weeknights.

One of the great things about all the Paris ‘Palace’ hotels are their locations – they’re all found somewhere in the 8th and 16th arrondissements. This puts them in close proximity with the city’s major tourist sights, like the Louvre or the trendy shops set along the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré. For those of you interested in visiting the City of Lights with a bit extra to splurge, you might want to consider the Park Hyatt Vendôme as the spot to check out.

Ride UberBOAT in Cannes Today

Uber is well on its way to conquering the world with its services available for land and sea. Yes, you can Uber at sea although you can’t yet summon an Uber yacht to get you home if you’re lost at sea. For the duration of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which will be held until June 26, visitors will have UberBOAT at their service.

Much like the private car hire service, the UberBOAT will be available for hire via the regular Uber app. The boats, from Wajer Yachts, can seat as many as 12 people and will ferry passengers from Cannes to Saint-Tropez, Monaco or the Lérins Islands. Prices range between €300 for a trip to the Lérins Islands or €1,000 for trips to Monaco or Saint-Tropez.

Prior to launching its services here, the high-end water-taxi service was made available in cities such as Boston and Istanbul. Another arm of Uber’s transportation service, is the UberCOPTER that will ferry passengers between Nice and Cannes in a matter of minutes — so Uber may just conquer the air too. The expansion of the company has not been limited to transportation though, as the company has also kicked off a food delivery service that delivers food from partner restaurants to users’ doors in what we are told is record time.

 

Decanter Wine Awards Reveals 2016 Winners

With a panel of 240 judges, among them 69 Masters of Wine and 26 Master Sommeliers, UK’s Decanter Wine Awards lays claim to serious authority pick out the best wine to be had. While it may be unsurprising that France emerged tops with nine of the 31 “platinum – best in show” medals (the biggest haul this year), the results reaped their fair share of surprises. Chile, for example, came in second with six medals in the highest category – their most notable bottle being a now-notoriously affordable wine. We will get back to that bottle at the end of this tale but do take a moment to consider that this was just one of 16,000 submissions, all judged blind.

A few other surprising wins came from countries such as Croatia and Switzerland, which collected some ‘best of show’ medals. Other countries that took home a raft of platinum and gold medals include Australia, Spain and Italy. The Grace winery from Japan also managed to score two platinum medals.

And now, back to that Chilean wonder, the Malbec La Moneda Reserva 2015… This humble wine’s victory in the under $21 category created waves of interest. In fact, the demand generated from the victory caused the supermarket retailer Asda’s website to crash so those interested better act fast before the supply runs low! The taste was described by judges to have flavors reminiscent of “succulent juicy berries, freshly crushed black fruit, creamy vanilla yogurt and pepper spice”.

If you need to find a new bottle of wine to sit back and relax with, you can check the winners from Decanter Awards over here.

Find out if any of these winning wines are on Epicurio now. Download the app on iTunes or Google Play now.

Pierre Herme Crowned Best Pastry Chef 2016

The next time you bite into one of Pierre Herme’s macarons, remember that it is a creation of the world’s Best Pastry Chef, a title bestowed on him by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Born into a family of master bakers from the Alsace region of eastern France, Herme’s dedication to macarons has elevated it into an art form. It is very surprising then that he started out not being a fan of the French dessert because they were too sweet. “What prompted me to work on macarons was that before there were just coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavors,” he added. “So it gave me great latitude for creativity.”

His inventiveness and creativity made his signature macarons a household name. Steering away from typical flavors, he married ingredients such as olive oil and vanilla, wild rose hip, fig and foie gras to his menu, using sugar “as a seasoning and not a principal ingredient.” Some of his most sought-after flavors include “Ispahan” – a refreshing mix of raspberries, lychee and rosewater – and “Mogador” – a decadent combination of passion fruit and milk chocolate.

It wasn’t an overnight success story; Herme had to undergo constant experimentation and a decade of apprenticeship with Parisian patissier Gaston Lenotre before his debut in 1997. He obtains inspiration from everywhere – “something I have tasted, something I have read or maybe an image,” he said. But with success also comes failure. “We worked on a pear and chestnut macaron. But after three attempts, we had to admit that we were never going to make one that had both the true taste of pear and of chestnut at the same time,” Herme reflected.

Now 54, Herme still keeps his experimental notes safely archived. His patisserie has expanded to include tarts, cakes, chocolates and jams, though the core of his business still revolves around macarons. Collaborations with artists such as Nicolas Buffe, who designed his chocolate boxes, and perfumier Jean-Michel Duriez has helped spread the word about his desserts internationally. “There are more and more talented patissiers out there opening shops and doing great things in hotels and restaurants. The profession is very much alive and there are lots of people eager to learn, which is wonderful,” he said.

French Vineyards Win War of Roses

As with jewelry and products made in rose gold, the wine market has been opening up in the 21st century to Rose wine. This is very good news for France which, despite losing to Italy in global production rankings last year (based on data by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine), has seen worldwide sales of Rose grow by nearly a third in 10 years. Worldwide rose production grew just 15 percent between 2002 and 2013 – but French winegrowers spotted the trend, and rode the wave by boosting their output 31 percent in the same period.

Much of this growth comes from demand in the US where Rose is starting to be seen as an accessible (read not pretentious) wine. Oliver Brun who runs a family vineyard at Chateau Brigue, at Le Luc-en-Provence in the southeastern Var region, noted that part of the appeal is the fact that “there’s no need to be an expert to enjoy it”. 70% of the sales from the Brun family vineyard comes from exports, and half of of that business is in the US. Florida, California, New York and, latterly, Chicago who lead the way.

The region French Rose is most associated with is the southern Provence region, where the climate, grapes and soil are just right. It is home to 600 producers with 39% of the coveted “registered designation of origin” certificates. Some of the popularity of Provencal Rose can also be attributed to marketing, such as British writer Peter Mayle’s best-seller “A Year in Provence” that describes life in the region. A bit of it is also the celebrity shock that occurred when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie purchased the Chateau de Miraval, complete with a vineyard – where they came up with their own “Pink Floyd” Rose.

Despite its accessibility though in terms of consumption, things aren’t so easy on the production side. The process is a precise art-form, and in 1999 a Rose research center was opened at Vidaudan in the Var to seek out the best quality. Roses are made when red grape varieties are harvested via a short maceration (soaking) period, while the technique of direct pressing may also be used once grape skins have been stripped or punctured before the juice is sent for fermentation. There’s also a saignee or “bled” method that sees juice bled off from nascent reds and placed in a separate vat.

“You have to be able to get up at the dead of night (to check on the brew’s progress) — it’s a little like the ultra-precise cooking of a grand chef,” said Philippe Faure-Brac, who was voted the world’s best sommelier in 1992. Thanks to that technical dedication and the seductive image, as well as the accessibility, it looks like it’s time for Rose to shine in the wine market.

Find the best Rose information and options with Epicurio. Download the app on iTunes or Google Play now.

Cité du Vin Celebrates Bordeaux Wine

With the French city all geared up to open its new cultural center dedicated to wine, many expect the city of Bordeaux to become a new tourist hot-spot (more than it already is). On June 1, the Cité du Vin will open its doors after a three-year construction period, in time to be the summer destination for visitors.

Situated in the center of the Bassins à Flot district, the cultural center is part of the plan to regenerate the area. The design of the building is a nod to the rites and rituals of wine drinking, with its curved structure reflecting the moment when wine is swirled in a glass. Yes, that is what the shape means!

Measuring 13,350 sqm and spanning 10 floors, the futuristic design also features the colors of the Garonne river. On the second floor, sits the center’s permanent exhibition that takes wine lovers on a multi-dimensional journey. With the help of 3D images, aromas and various interactive features, guests can explore the history, properties and cultural aspects of Bordeaux.Bordeaux-wine-festival-article

The tour can also be enjoyed with the help of an audio guide — available in eight languages — and will also bring visitors to other vineyards around the world. While there is a replica of a genuine wine cellar created to elaborate on the various stages of wine making, the Belvedere viewing gallery on eighth floor of the center allows visitors to sample a glass of Bordeaux’s finest.

Following the opening, the city will kick off the 10th Bordeaux Wine Festival on June 23. The weekend will see the riverbanks of Bordeaux transformed for the wine-tasting event while trips to vineyards are also organized to help tourists understand the wine making process. Visitors can also get a special pass to sample the region’s famous “1855” grand cru wines, the real stars of the region. Held on alternate years with the Vinexpo wine industry trade fair, the “Bordeaux Wine Festival” has become a popular event that brings together locals and wine fans from further afield.

Find out which Bordeaux wines are on Epicurio now. Download the app on iTunes or Google Play now.

Focus: Artist Leiko Ikemura

Japanese artist Leiko Ikemura was born in Tsu, Japan, and currently lives and works in both Cologne and Berlin. After getting her degree at the University of Osaka in language studies, she went on to study art in Spain, where she stayed for six years. Ikemura then moved to Switzerland and has stayed in various countries in Western Europe ever since.

In 2014, Ikemura was awarded the Cologne Fine Art Prize 2014 and her public collections are everywhere in Europe, from France to Switzerland, to Germany, Austria and also in her homeland, Japan. Her solo exhibitions span a history of 37 years, dating back to 1979 and she has had a strong presence on the world stage of visual art.

Ikemura uses a combination of paintings and sculptures as a creative tool. She uses a variety of media: bronze, terracotta, pastel on paper and oil on burlap for example. The playing around with different media mirrors the different landscapes and characters of mountains. Ikemura’s nature works are mostly an expression of the Japanese countryside. Typically, when Ikemura uses canvas, she offers contemplation, and when she uses sculptures, she offers intimacy and religion. Ikemura’s works are always poetic, iconographic, imaginary and impressionistic – we get the idea of what she is trying to say, and the lack of minute details shows how she avoids realistic representation of art so that the viewer is left with space for imagination.

In many of Ikemura’s nature works, the mountain is a recurring motif, a central subject. For her, mountains symbolise victory of life over death. Her latest exhibition, ‘Mountains in Exile’, which showed at Galerie Karsten Greve, France, have works that were created between 2013 and 2015. Two works in this collection are ‘Genesis I’ and ‘Tree’, in which she uses tempera on burlap; the main colors of these works are red, grey and ochre, showing how she brings colour contrast, as compared to her other works that tend to border on the meditative side.

In ‘Hawks’, however, she uses pastel on paper to portray mountains and water. The appeal of ‘Hawks’ lies in its simplicity, she uses only pastel on paper and the image is not one with elaborate sensory detail, in fact, it seems almost rudimentary. But Ikemura is more concerned with “the play of light and shadow… than to depict so called ‘reality’”.

Ikemura’s enigmatic style is expressed in her philosophy as an artist for, “In [her] mind, being an artist means a constant search for something that combines your own identity with something universal. This search requires time.” Mixing Eastern Asian and Western approaches to art, Ikemura exemplifies what it means to truly be an international artist in the globalised world.

*For more information, please visit www.galerie-karsten-greve.com

Story Credits

Text by Megan Chua

This story was first published in Art Republik.

Fancy a One Night Stay Under the Eiffel Tower?

What’s more romantic than visiting the Eiffel Tower with your loved one? Spending the night under it, of course. In a lead-up to the highly-anticipated UEFA Euro 2016 games, short-term vacation rental site HomeAway has launched a contest offering up to 24 people a chance to spend the night on the first floor of the iconic landmark, reimagined by a Paris designer.

This contest is not all luck though. The four best answers to the question “What would you do if the HomeAway Eiffel Tower was all yours for a night?” will be awarded the opportunity to bring along five guests each for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Winners can also expect three additional nights in a Paris HomeAway vacation rental, round-trip transportation and a gourmet dinner – as if the Eiffel Tower stay wasn’t a sweet enough deal.

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This isn’t the first contest of its kind – short-term vacation rental companies have been trying to outdo one another with wacky and exclusive properties. ‘Sleeping with sharks’ may have seemed like a ridiculous proposition but Airbnb made the impossible happen for three brave couples with its custom-built underwater chamber at the Paris aquarium last month. Denmark’s Kronborg Castle also threw open its doors for the first time in a century to mark Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary in April, allowing two guests to live as Hamlet did (if he wasn’t fictional).

The contest runs May 19 – 31, 2016 in the United States, May 20 – June 5, 2016 in Asia and May 19 – June 5, 2016 in Europe. The four lucky groups selected will be hosted June 23, June 28, July 4 and July 8, 2016 during the UEFA Euro 2016 games period, and winners will be announced June 10.

Click here to find out more about this contest and to participate.

Focus: Artist Hom Nguyen

Vietnamese-born artist Hom Nguyen (b. 1972) immigrated to France in the 1960s where he has since led a fulfilling and colorful artistic career. The hallmark of his style is the human form – Hom is concerned with capturing the human emotions in all its diversity, every emotion on the spectrum from happiness to despair, he encapsulates the essence of every look, every pair of eyes, and every stare within the frames of the canvas. Using brash sketch lines and paint strokes, his works seem to embody a certain impatience and ruggedness. Perhaps that is the background of the artist speaking, as Hom used to be an autodidact craftsman, making patina on leather before it sparked his deep and life-long interest in painting and drawing.

Hom is not so much concerned with refinement than he is for truth – he wants to express what is real, instead of the polished, high-art forms of the classical style. Nguyen has been compared to Warhol, or to figurative art of Lucian Freud, but his works seem to be an antithesis to the straightforward, direct images of him. Hom’s expressiveness presents the opposite – he does not seem to want to present pop art, nor to impress with any pompous and provocative images and colors. His is an organic, down-to-earth capturing of the ordinary: human faces, young and old, joyful and devastated. Hom wants his viewers to think twice about the ordinary, and to raise the awareness of the socio-political context of immigration: What is in a face? Why do we take to some and not others? How are these faces speaking to us? These are questions that immigrants would have identified with.

His recent works focus on Asian children without mouths that present an important issue of child welfare and rights: has the modern world stripped every child of their voice? From a more philosophical standpoint, Hom wants to express in the face the expression of their inner landscapes even if the mouth, the mechanism for expression, has been taken away from them. What the viewer then focuses on is everything else: the ears, eyes, nose and gaze that seem to be staring piercingly back at us – are we really looking at what he wants us to see? Are we really ‘seeing’ the children for what they are? Hom claims that his role as an artist is to “probe the mirror of the soul” through the eyes of his subjects, where he believes are the windows to their true inner feelings.

Perhaps Hom’s obsession with the face is reflective of his experiences as an immigrant in France. Hom’s comments on the attitudes towards Asians as being people who “do not speak, do not listen, do not see” shows the difficulty of being an outsider. What is in a face? This question is at the heart of his works and Hom comments on the life of hardship he lived when he first moved to France.

Hom’s next appearance is going to be with A2Z Art Gallery at Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Here he will present works based on the look of Isabelle Adjani, French actress, artist, and second generation immigrant in France. He hopes to merge the immigrant identity with the human condition through this explosive collaboration.

*For more information, please visit www.a2z-art.com.

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Text by Megan Chua

This article was originally published in Art Republik.

French Trains Receive Palace of Versailles Makeover

The next time you happen to be on a train in Paris, don’t look out. Direct your gaze, instead, to its interior, because you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. The usually unassuming décor of the trains running along the suburban RER C train lines have been ditched for a more sophisticated rendition of the Palace of Versailles.

France_train_Palace of Versailles

Available on board five trains under the SNCF, France’s national rail network, the cabins have been plastered with trompe-l’oeil images of the royal chateau. The refurbishments are designed to evoke memories of the palace and its grounds. Famous sites such as the Hall of Mirrors, the Gallery of Battles and Louis XVI’s royal library have been layered on with a high-tech plastic film. Such a project isn’t a first for the SNCF though. The rail company had a similar initiative in 2012 with Art in Transit, a collaboration with 3M that transformed train cars with Impressionist art and a train station with stain glass inspired by the Musée d’Orsay.

France_train_Palace of Versailles

Taken by about 500,000 passenger a day (of which 10 percent are tourists) the train is en route to 36 stations along the RER C line, which runs through five departments: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Val-de-Marne, Essonne and Yvelines. The makeover was no mean feat – 10 full-time employees, including an engineer, quality control supervisor and eight technical specialists were required to apply a staggering 941 panels of film to the train’s interiors with utmost precision. A small price to pay though, for a travelling experience you’ll never forget.

Focus: Villa Clairefontaine, France

This magnificent villa is located in the Mougins village, close to all daily amenities and only 25 minutes from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, France. Situated near a prestigious golf course and international school, this Provencal style villa of approximately 600 sqm is set in a landscaped garden of more than five hectares with a large rectangular swimming pool and pool house. The villa has its interior designed and dressed by an Italian designer with modern fittings and designer furniture; it comprises two living rooms, an office, a large kitchen with dining room plus seven en suite bedrooms.Villa-Clairefontaine-interior

PRICE ON APPLICATION

One Fullerton

1 Fullerton Road, #02-01, Singapore 049213

Tel: +65 9168 6888

[email protected]

www.altacollection.com

 

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This story was first published in Palace.

Tour Auto Optic 2000: Classic Cars, Zenith Watches

What better way to spend a day than racing through the most beautiful regions of France in a refined ride? It was this mindset that got the Tour Auto Optic 2000 race off the blocks; the historic car race is in its 25th iteration this year and ran from April 18 to 23. The 240 contestants tested their mettle on closed roads, with the full circuit running from Paris to Cannes. For this year, though, the even more historic luxury watch brand Zenith chose to step up as the race’s official timepiece, releasing a limited series of the El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Tour Auto Edition as a tribute to the stately competition.

Tour-Auto-Zenith-Watch

Limited to just 500 pieces, the El Primero Tour Auto runs at a speed of 36,000 vibrations per hour with impeccable precision due to the legendary El Primero movement. The 5Hz escapement is a key feature of the El Primero since its debut in 1969. The current design features a sporty look, with a long three-colored (the old red, white and blue) stripe down the dial and strap, very fitting for the renowned race.

Aldo Magada, Michel Rostang, Jean-Paul Lacombe, and Michel Chabran

Aldo Magada, Michel Rostang, Jean-Paul Lacombe, and Michel Chabran

Aldo Magada, CEO & President of Zenith, commented: “We serve as official timekeeper for Tour Auto and Peter Auto events around Europe. We share a passion for fine mechanisms, timeless aesthetics as well as history. And most of all, a passion for competition, great escapes and travel. We want to be far more than a sponsor and instead a real partner.”

tourauto (13)

The race itself ended in a final night-time stage, specially organized for the 25th anniversary of the event, with a win by the Parisian driving team of Jean-Pierre Lajournade and Christophe Bouchet, in their trusty E-type Jaguar. Overall, the participants unanimously voted it a success due to the quality of the itinerary, the choices and standards of the meals, and the overall organization.

grandpalais,

 

In the meantime, Zenith welcomed Hong Kong actor Francis Ng, and Michelin starred chefs –Michel Rostang, Michel Chabran and Jean-Paul Lacombe – as well as the firm’s other ambassadors and friends for the grand opening of the race. A watchmaking ‘class’ focused on the El Primero Tour Auto limited edition was also held.

Francis Ng

Francis Ng

With the end of a fantastic event, you can bet that the participants are already looking forward to next year’s run. Who knows how much better that will be? We can’t wait to find out.

Focus: Napoleon III House, La Muette, Paris

A house with a garden near rue de Passy, this 3,230sf family house is in pristine condition and arranged over three floors. Greff International lists the former owner as Napoleon III so the pedigree is assured! There is an elegant central staircase, hallway, living room and a rotunda dining room with direct access to a 1,507sf garden. On the top two floors, there are four bedrooms, two bathrooms and walk-in wardrobe. In the basement, there is also a 538sf bedroom with shower. This generously proportioned property is south-facing and has ample space for parking. La-Muette-Paris-Palace-2

Price: €3.6 million ($4.07 million)

Contact:

Greff International
Esplanade des Invalides
36, rue Fabert
F-75007 PARIS
www.greff-international.com

Story Credits

This story was first published in Palace.