Tag Archives: France

louis-vuitton--Les-parfums-louis-vuitton

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.

art-exhibition-paris-magis

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
art-exhibition-paris-muji

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
art-exhibition-paris-Roger-Tallon

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
art-exhibition-paris-bauhaus

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
art-exhibition-paris-jean-nouvel

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
art-exhibition-paris-ad-interiors

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.

bollinger-champagne-3

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.

bollinger-champagne-2

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

Lease of Luxury_LO_

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

Lease of Luxury_LO_

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

Beat-Generation-Pompidou1

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.

Beat-Generation-Pompidou3

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.

Beat-Generation-Pompidou2

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.

homeaway_appart.71db0102247.h0

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.