The Palace of Versailles is to transform one of its satellite buildings into a luxury hotel, paving the way for a series of French projects aimed at exploiting the economic potential of listed buildings while securing their renovation.
The Hotel du Grand Controle is to be converted into a “luxury hotel,” Jean-Jacques Aillagon, president of the Chateau de Versailles, said Tuesday.
The opening of the 23-bedroom establishment, in which some rooms will look out onto the “Orangerie”, the chateau’s elaborate greenhouse, is planned for late 2011. Continue reading →
Hundreds of unknown Pablo Picasso works worth tens of millions of euros have surfaced in France in the hands of a 71-year-old retired electrician who says they were gifts from the master.
Dating from the first third of the 20th century — considered Picasso’s most fertile period — the 271 pieces are valued by experts at more than 60 million euros.
And the new-found drawings, paintings and studies are now at the heart of a legal tug-of-war between the electrician, Pierre Le Guennec, and the artist’s heirs who believe they must have been stolen and have filed for charges. Continue reading →
When it comes to meal time, the French do it differently. That is the argument being put to UNESCO as it decides this week whether French cuisine deserves a spot on its intangible heritage list.
“The gastronomic meal of the French” is seen as a strong contender as the UN agency meets in Nairobi from Monday to Friday to consider new submissions for the list, set up in 2003 to safeguard cultural traditions, rituals and crafts.
France’s submission to the list centres around the ritual of the festive meal in a country where food is a key part of social life. Continue reading →
Paris’ world-famous luxury Crillon hotel has been sold to Saudi investors linked to the royal family for around 250 million euros ($446 million).
US-based Starwood Capital is in the final stages of the sale which does not include a reportedly 100-million-euro programme needed to modernise one of the world’s oldest luxury hotels, according to the daily Le Figaro.
The Kempinski Hotels group is to manage the Crillon, the paper said, but the new acquisition would be its first in France.
The Crillon, built in the 18th century on what would become the Place de la Concorde, has 147 rooms and suites and employs around 360 people. Continue reading →
A show of outlandish sculptures by a Japanese artist in the Chateau of Versailles near Paris has enraged traditionalists who say it dishonours France’s past.
From September 14 to December 12, visitors to Versailles will see eye-grabbing multicoloured statues in silver, fibreglass and metal by Takashi Murakami alongside the chateau’s ornate murals and chandeliers.
“The Chateau de Versailles is one of the greatest symbols of Western history,” Murakami said in a statement on the museum’s website. Continue reading →
French President Nicolas Sarkozy ‘s dream of having a presidential jet to rival Air Force One of the United States is about to come true.
â€œAir Sarko One,â€ a $241-million Airbus A330-200, has made its first test flight in Bordeaux, southwestern France.
Although not quite as big as the Boeing 747-200 that is Air Force One, the French A330-200 will be at least ten metres longer and two metres higher that the aircraft used by other European leaders. Continue reading →
LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, the man behind some of the world’s top luxury labels, has been officially named France’s richest man.
Arnault’s fortune is estimated at 22.7 billion euros, ($28.6 billion) following a 55% increase in his net worth weekly magazine Challenges reported.
Arnault took over the top slot from Gerard Mulliez and family, the owners of the Auchan supermarket chain. Mulliez was still in second place with a fortune estimated at 19 billion euros. Continue reading →
Louis Vuitton unveiled its revamped luxury Saint-Tropez store on 18-June 2010 and launched an exclusive beach bag to celebrate.
The store has been doubled in size with the integration of an adjoining spaceâ€“a former house of potteryâ€“on rue Georges Clemenceau.
It features interiors inspired by classic Mediterranean glamour: wooden displays, stone floors and sunlight flooding in through large windows that open onto a private garden paved with Provencal briquettes and Mediterranean plants. Continue reading →
In the sun-drenched south of France, the world’s largest vineyard has launched a new, simplified brand called “Pays d’Oc”, creating the number one French wine export to compete against New World brands.
Languedoc-Roussillon covers 35 percent (or 260,200 hectares) of all French vineyards, making it the biggest producer worldwide.
As of the 2009 vintage, soon to hit store shelves, one-third of that production or 760 million bottles of wine will be sold by vintage and grape variety under the Pays d’Oc brand.
This will make them the world’s fifth largest exporter of varietal wine. And with 33 grape varieties in production in the region, the market potential is impressive. Continue reading →
France’s oldest spirit, Armagnac, is celebrating its 700th birthday with a new marketing push vaunting its “40 virtues” as a drink that is good for the body and good for the soul.
The first mention of Armagnac dates back to 1310 when Prior Vital Dufour wrote a treaty on medicine in which he laid out the 40 virtues of the liqueur produced in southwest France.
“This water, if taken medically and soberly is said to have 40 virtues,” wrote Dufour. “It enlivens the spirit, if taken in moderation, recalls the past to memory, renders men joyous, preserves youth and delays senility.” Continue reading →