Monday, December 31, 2012

Syrinx by Debussy - Pan's Pipes... Le Flûte de Pan....

Syrinx - Arthur Hacker - 1892
A haunting piece of music was used in a 70's television dramatisation and from the minute I heard it all those years ago it absolutely captivated me. Shortly after that I came across a version of it performed by the flutist James Last, but with time I lost the cassette, and worse still could not even remember the title of the piece in question, despite all my attempts to follow its elusive trail ever since. I did get sidetracked by the fact that the television drama had been set in India, so I thought there was some vital Asian link.
In fact, Syrinx, written by Claude Debussy in 1913, elaborates the ancient Greek myth of Syrinx and Pan and the musicality born from their unfortunate encounter...

Debussy's ethereal music creates a plaintive, soulful sound that is literally enchanting and joyful too in all its magical beauty. It still makes my skin prickle just as it did when I was a child! It is a relatively short piece, of around three minutes in length, which seems to make it all the more haunting because it does not get diluted in any way. Syrinx was unusual for its time (just before the First World War) since it was an avant-garde solo flute performance. Originally called Flûte de Pan, it was intended to provide atmospheric background music to the uncompleted play, Psyche, by Gabriel Mourey.
Faeries -Brian Froud and Alan Lee 1978 Pan Editions
Syrinx relates the tragic end of Pan's pursuit of the nymph Syrinx and the melodious creation that results from this. Son of Hermes and a wood nymph, the bearded, horned Pan was a deity of woods and mountains, symbolizing shepherds, pastures, spring and fertility. Half-man, half-goat, Pan was one of the companions of Dionysus, the god of wine, and wished to pursue his love/lust interests. Despite being a well-endowed satyr, Pan's physique did not meet with much success and he was frequently ridiculed and his amourous advances spurned. He left Mount Olympus in order to try his luck in the rustic beauty of Arcadia, free to roam the woods with his unbridled sexuality. Still repeatedly rejected, the over-sexed goat was prone to fits of frustrated anger which would inspire panic (panikon deima) all around him. Stamping his cloven feet, he would stomp off, ready to vent his frustration in yet another amourous mission only to find his bestial love unrequited and his love interests literally slip between his fingers. Although Pan did manage to seduce the moon goddess, Selene, by concealing his hairy back, this was a solitary conquest. Spurned by the nymph Echo, who scorned the love of any male, Pan had her torn to pieces and scattered all over the world, forever repeating the words of others. As for Pitys, she was turned into a sacred mountain fir tree by the piqued Pan. Turning his attentions to Syrinx, the lecherous goat was to witness another metamorphosis when yet another potential lover fled his carnal advances. As Syrinx was a follower of Artemis, the goddess of chastity, she was little drawn to Pan the phallic god!
Not Pan, but a Scottish Urisk (Faeries - Brian Froud and Alan Lee 1978 Pan Editions)

There are variations to the sequence of events, but Pan chased the fleeing nymph who successfully escaped him until she reached the river Ladon. Finding herself in front of an unsurmountable obstacle, she begged the water nymphs to turn her into water reeds so that she could hide in the marshes.

Unable to locate his prey, Pan was only able to lay his greedy hands on the reeds. Noticing the plaintive notes produced by these through his sighs of desperation Pan cut the reeds down, using nine pieces to fashion himself a pipe to play, only then realizing that he had just killed Syrinx.

From Faeries - Brian Froud and Alan Lee 1978 Pan Editions

Although it was Ovid who first wrote about Syrinx and Pan in his Metamorphoses, but the English poet John Keats (1795-1825) also gave an account.. 
... fair trembling Syrinx fled  Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread. 
Poor nymph- poor Pan - how he did weep to find 
Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind
Along the reedy stream; a half-heard strain, 
Full of sweet desolation, balmy pain.

So with a haunting melody I'll say goodbye to 2012 - not a great year - and will look forward to 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dusty, unworn yet treasured... My kinky boots!

My kinky boots and dress!
I dedicate this post to my beautiful kinky boots that I bought late this summer, with great delight and without any hesistation whatsoever except over the choice of colour (teal blue or ruby red...Hmm!), despite the cost and any other practical consideration, for that matter. In fact, they were the perfect match for the dress that I bought from the same shop almost a year before, with the same impulsivity and no misgivings except one - that now concerns both dress and boots... I can't wear them!

The one and only time that I wore the dress early this summer, it (well, me wearing it, to be more precise) met with such a resounding wall of silence that I felt quite shocked! I don't wear clothes, jewellery or accessories 'for' anyone in particular except myself, but to have such a bright dress tactfully ignored was weirdly unnerving! I didn't want to let that deter me from wearing the whole ensemble - dress and boots - but it did and has still and so now my boots have become an alternative form of interior decoration. They have pride of place where they can be seen and admired by myself every day, whilst the dress is draped over a piece of furniture with the same aim!

At least they are also a great excuse to listen to the cult song - Kinky Boots - starring Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman from The Avengers. This was released in 1964, the year that I was born - maybe that provides an explanation for the deafening silence inspired by my dress and I... Mutton glaringly dressed as lamb! Well, that won't stop me liking the dress or the boots, my lovely kinky boots!

 And I'm going to listen to the song again and again...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Les Grands Boulevards of Paris... and Animal Magic!

Au Printemps - Haussmann - Paris
This year saw us spending the dusky part of Christmas Eve visiting the Grands Boulevards of Paris to look at the prestigious window displays of the famous grands magasins. These displays were all elaborated to highlight the magnificence of these shops and the world-famous French luxury brands they sell...

Well, I'm not really a fan of big names, labels and their corresponding price tags, but in magpie style my beady, greedy eyes are drawn to anything shiny and sparkly... and if it should feature animals, all the better!

So this really was the Noël du Siècle, as the adverting slogan for Galeries Lafayette stated.

While the Bal du siècle was being played out by a menagerie in the windows overlooking Boulevard Haussmann,  the Au Printemps department store next door saw mannequins, sashaying and strutting around in sequined attire.

It should have come as no great surprise to find that the window displays, pavements and streets surrounding these grands magasins had drawn in huge crowds, despite my theory that everyone else would be preoccupied preparing themselves and the Réveillon meal.

 This just proved that the grandes vitrines perform their duty just as efficently as their creators had intended in the 19th century; to make dreams accessible to the general public and to give them inspiration... to buy.

 With the names of Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton emblazoned on the window displays, the inspiration of le luxe français is certainly operating its magic on a global scale, with the greatest sales coming from the Asian clientèle.

Despite their great renown, Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps were not the first grands magasins in Paris, nor were they the first to inaugurate the institution of the grandes vitrines.

Deyrolle - Rue du Bac - My FAVOURITE 'cabinet de curiosités'!
Some forty years before their arrival, there was Au Bon Marché, near Rue du Bac. This department store had a radical effect on the concept of shopping, fashion and flâneries, and consequently on the consumer habits and material aspirations of Parisian middle-class society.
Christmas bear chez Deyrolle in all his natural festive finery...
 Such was the social impact of Au Bon Marché as the "Cathedral of modern commerce" that Emile Zola used it as the basis of his novel Au Bonheur des Dames. To accommodate the large visiting clientèle during their shopping sprees, the Hôtel Lutetia was built nearby...
 Christmas polar bear at Galeries Lafayette, complete with Louis Vuitton accessories...

Although Au Bon Marché introduced an innovative form of commerce, not least with the structure of the building itself, with architectural contributions from Gustave Eiffel, it was with the later grands magasins that shopping took on a whole new meaning and opened out to an even larger public.
Louis Vuitton luggage-bearing frogs (well, what else!)
 In the 19th century, just as hoards of provincials flooded into the capital to arrive at Gare Saint-Lazare, near the grands magasins, others went much further afield...

 The company Louis Vuitton, founded in 1854, was to build its name on the need for solid, stylish luggage to withstand such travel requirements.

This year's window display at Galeries Lafayette is devoted to LV, which in turn pays hommage to the grand magasin itself through its aesthetic references to the store.

Snooty LV Afghan hound with pompom girls...
 The displays all present vintage and modern LV luggage and accessories, featuring the respective animal stars from the four corners of the world, yet all are set against a backdrop mirroring the luminous facets of Galeries Lafayette's famous glass dome, which celebrates its centenary this year.

Of Byzantine style, this magnificent stained-glass coupole dominates the store inside and out. At 33 metres in height, the structure is breath-taking today, but must have been even more so when first constructed at the beginning of the last century.

The Coupole - Galeries Lafayette - 100 years old.
For the centenary the coloured geometric forms of the Art Nouveau design were shown in all their glory by the changing lights that transform the colour schemes in a magical show. This was further enhanced by an enormous Swarovski Christmas tree of 22 metres!

 Unfortunately, from ground level in the store, the conditions were more like those on a rugby pitch - everyone was elbowing their way forward to take photos...

 Wow! A Croydon facelift à la française...
It was even worse outside - a veritable scrum - though you'd never imagine it from the photos... All the animals looked cool and collected! Not a ruffled feather in sight!

As much as she likes glitter and dazzle my daughter was not impressed by the experience at all! I assured her that she'd regret if she did not 'do' the Parisian windows!

The search for calm and a certain sophisticated order were what drove the grand urban planner of 19th century Paris, Baron Haussmann, whose name was given to the grand boulevard that houses Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps near the Opéra Garnier.

Haussmann was responsible for the huge transformation of the capital, largely obliterating 60% of the narrow, sprawling streets and alleys dating from Medieval times in order to create a city centred around a series of great axis. The most famous of these arteries must be the Champs-Elysées which radiates from the Place de l'Etoile.

  While today certain aspects of Paris may appear to be the height of luxury and chic, this wasn't always the case... Inspired by the urbanism and hygiene of London, Haussmann wished to surpass this in his native Paris under Napoleon III, during the Second Empire.

His objective was to create a Paris that would be "beautified, sanitized and greatly increased in size" and he was most determined (ruthless even) in his will to accomplish this. Whilst many people praised his endeavours, others condemned his 'Haussmannization' as the destruction of the social heart of Paris.

Criticized for his obsession with straight lines and a strict application of norms for height and style of the typical Haussmannian architecture, he nevertheless created the Paris of vast tree-lined avenues and grands hôtels particuliers that we know today.

Haussmann sought to encourage ever-greater economic growth for the capital. He did so by rendering the circulation of traffic and pedestrians more fluid through a network of clear-cut routes - be that actual roads or pavements that facilitated the bourgeois flâneries.

Always a magpie lurking somewhere amongst the jewels...
 In so doing, he also hoped to crush any possible manifestation of political uprising in the civilians as large avenues would allow access to cavalry and direct canon fire.
Two pickpockets who 'cleared me out' over Christmas!
Well, I thought the grands boulevards were an absolute riot on Christmas Eve! Mind you, this was just preparation for the following day with the Main Street at Disney!

 Here's another grand marque - again more sparkle and animal magic...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Purrfect Christmas...

Contemplative calm before the storm...

Here's Christmas again, and it has to be said that Oggie has become more sensible with all things Christmassy - well, maybe just the Christmas tree. He did manage to start digging in the bowl of icing sugar yesterday, but kindly did refrain from sneezing in it this time...

The tree itself has not yet been plundered for 'interesting' decorations (from a cat's point of view) so that apart from one white dove that had its head elegantly nimbled off, and a few baubles that were used to play festive feline football, everything is intact! This is quite an exploit and was not always the case... Perhaps he lost a little of his Russian spirit of adventure when we changed his name from Krasnogorsk (Noggin) to Oggie...

The previous two years the tree spent much of the time twitching, trembling and tumbling as Oggie went climbing through and up the very artificial branches in search of goodies. Anything and everything deemed vaguely appealing to a cat was placed higher and higher up the tree until the whole structure became so top-heavy that the slightest feline marauding would have the same result...Timber! The fairy with her glittery feathered wings was obliged to take leave since the very beginning of this failed co-habitation, but that didn't deter Oggie from intrepidly climbing up the tree, King Kong style, in search of the absent fairy Fay Wray.

 Little does Oggie know it, but for part of Christmas Day this year the cat (him) is staying and the mice (us) might be going off to play with an even bigger mouse - at Disney! While our backs are turned Oggie may get up to his own adventures or maybe dream his own stories and fairy tales...He might even be thinking up a plan of action right now...

Maybe he's going to come up with a new swash-buckling mission, Puss-in-Boots style, or maybe he'll just take inspiration from the paper cats and just sit around, decoratively, or maybe not...

Hmm... I wonder what Oggie has in mind...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Villa Demoiselle - Sleeping Beauty Awakes...

 When I arrived in Reims over twenty years ago, I came across a strange, imposing villa that looked as if it was straight out of an atmospheric 1920's mystery novel. It was all the more mysterious since despite its beauty and grandeur it had been abandoned, apparently for many years.
Main entrance with wrought iron verandah.

Whilst the blocked-up windows protected it from vandalism, there was nothing to offer protection from the elements and it seemed just a question of time before the roof would finally give in and the damage would be irreparable.

Little did I know then that the villa would remain in this state of decline for over a decade more.

Mysterious turrets looking over the domain...

  I knew nothing about the place other than it was said to belong to the Champagne house Pommery - whose estate is situated just opposite the villa in question.
The mock-Tudor style of the grandiose Pommery headquarters, built in the latter part of the 19th century, is said to be a replica of English chateaux. 


Whatever its inspiration I always found it a bit tacky-looking compared to the elegance of the neglected villa which itself dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.

  I did change my opinion on that when I learnt more about the remarkable Louise Pommery. On becoming a widow, Mme Pommery took the reins of the company and set about making revolutionary decisions on the production and commercialization of champagne. 
Villa Demoiselle, shining out on a grey afternoon.
 With an astute flair for concluding ground-breaking business deals she sensed the potential in the English market and went on to conquer the terrain; hence the references to English architectural heritage...
The Pommery domain with the Villa after the Great War 1914-1918.
  So, I just couldn't understand how the villa could belong to the affluent Pommery champagne house and simply remain in this willful state of disrepair. 

 After so many years, I thought nothing or nobody could ever wake this sad sleeping beauty...but finally from 2004, slowly but surely, it was born again as the Villa Demoiselle...

Sleeping Beauty awakens in her golden glory...
Against all odds, the villa rose from its dilapidated state to become again this beautiful example of Art Nouveau/ArtDéco which you can admire in all its glowing tones during a guided visit. It was truly radiant...

Stained glass entrance to reception rooms.
 In 2004, Nathalie and Paul-François Vranken acquired the abandoned villa and drew up the ambitious project whose miraculous results we can see today. Which is precisely what I did a few weeks ago. Unfortunately my camera decided that it was on its way out, and was thinking of 'dying' on me, which is precisely what it did, mid-visit! I had to go back around the grounds of Villa Demoiselle to get photos on a separate occasion...
The luminosity of the staircase - 'Grand escalier'.
 Although Belgian in origin, Vranken imposed his name and business savoir-faire in the Champagne region of France, taking his subsequent champagne empire , to the heights of international prestige.

Richly stencilled coupole at the top of the Grand Escalier...
 In the late 1970's the champagne house Vranken was a relatively modest affair, but grew in size and renown with the purchase of the champagne house Charles Lafitte, and more symbolically for this story at least, the creation of the champagne Demoiselle. 
Base of grand staircase with mosaics which recall the glowing tones of the coupole above...
 The Vranken portfolio grew significantly in the 1990's with the acquisition of the brand Heidsieck and Co Monopole and then in 2002 with the purchase of the champagne house Pommery. Wishing to create a showpiece to reflect the success of Demoiselle's creator and establish an official site to the Vranken champagne house in Reims, rather than in Epernay, the villa was resurrected by the Vrankens, husband and wife, to become La Villa Demoiselle. 

Spectrum of stained glass...

 However this project was far more than an ostentatious commercial stance. Indeed, this was to be an esthetic labour of love for the couple, both avid art-lovers and active supporters of the arts and artistic creation in general. During five years of extensive work, the Vrankens not only devoted themselves to re-creating the former beauty of the villa, but did so in manner that gave vigour and renown to local craftsmen and enterprises such as Les Métalliers Champenois and Les Compagnons du Devoir.

Stencilling materials

As their plan was to create a piece of living art, Villa Demoiselle is not a sterile edifice to past artistic splendour, but a lively setting to regular art exhibitions. Like Louise Pommery, who commissioned ambitious artistic and architectural projects to decorate the Pommery estate in the 19th century, the Vrankens fully support contemporary arts today. 

Madame Vranken is administrator to the FRAC (Fonds régional d'art contemporain) and several year ago she founded a circle of art patrons - Le Cercle des mécènes du musée des Beaux-Arts de Reims. 
Studies of entrance hall and staircase
I don't know if the Vrankens were aware of the full extent of the Demoiselle challenge when they initially took on the project with the purchase of the property. For the first two years they played an active role in the restoration proceedings, supervising the work undertaken and scouring auction houses, art galleries and antique shops to find pieces to furnish the villa - giving new life to the Art Nouveau/Art Déco theme of the building and its grounds. 

Champagne celler

An impressive champagne cellar was also created in order to house Demoiselle's illustrious bottles in a style that compliments the general tone of the villa. The patience and, no doubt, the finances required to back such a project were immeasurable.

The villa had not only suffered great damage over the years of dilapidation and vandalism, but also little remained of the original edifice to guide the Vrankens in the restoration.
Villa Cochet

Old photos of the villa's former glory remained to guide the artisans in their work, but virtually nothing had survived of the original pieces that had once furnished and decorated the building. 

The original dining room

The parquet flooring had largely been ripped out and used for bonfires by successive squatters, as had the wooden panels on the walls; the stained-glass windows and magnificent chandeliers had been shattered or stolen; the marble fireplaces themselves had long since disappeared, along with anything that attracted the unwanted visitors' attentions.

Original entrance hall, all of which was faithfully reproduced by the Vrankens.
 Apparently the Vrankens had to base a certain amount of their restoration work on mere scraps and fragments of the original decor, as was the case with the two-toned marble fireplace in the dining room of which just a few centimetres were left in 2004. The greatest threat over the barren years up to the Vrankens' intervention was less from the scavenging squatters than from the unscrupulous property developers.

Le Grand Escalier
With its highly desirable terrain of 5 600 m2, looking towards Reims cathedral, this plot would be a lucrative catch. The property was repeatedly sold and bought and numerous demolition projects were put forward from the 1980's onwards. 
 Fortunately an architect of the Bâtiments de France  declared the building to be of national importance due to its unique staircase which was duly classified. 

 In its 11th hour, the villa was thus saved, and the greedy developers found their prey snatched away from them. The villa was finally placed under the protection of the town of Reims in 1999.
Staircase with its imposing lampshades.

At the very end of the year, just as the 20th century gave way to the 21st, the city of Reims suffered the full impact of hurricane conditions that swept much of North-East France. 

 Miraculously the villa emerged relatively unscathed, just as it had pulled through the Great War of 1914-1918. The extensive bomb attacks that had devastated Reims cathedral and destroyed 90% of the city during that period seemed to have little effect on the villa. 

As seen from below...
 Its survival is testament to the avant-garde genius of the architect who designed and oversaw the construction of the villa at the beginning of the last century, exactly one hundred years before the Vrankens undertook their project. 

Magnificent double doors leading onto the receptions rooms on the ground floor.

The villa was commissioned in 1890 by Henry Vasnier, director of the champagne house Pommery, who wished to have a reception house to welcome his distinguished guest in due style. Himself a patron of the arts and an "enlightened collector" Vasnier entrusted the execution of the future villa to the architect Louis Sorel.

 Both men admired the Art Nouveau style, notably visible in the work of the Ecole de Nancy with artists such as Louis Majorelle and Emile Gallé. Sorel sought to recreate the vision of L'art en tout movement which was founded on an organic unity. 

Ornate motifs retraced throughout the villa...

Contrary to common structural practices at the time, Sorel chose to innovate. The villa was built over three floors on a metal frame, using a concrete structure topped by a pyramidal metallic roof. 

This ultimately enabled the edifice to withstand all that fate was to throw its way. The villa's grounds were equally impressive and were designed by a famous landscape artist, Edouard Redont, who undertook the work on the 5,800m2 gardens.

Thistle wall covering...

The villa demonstrated the intertwining of Art Nouveau and early Art Déco - as new materials and innovative techniques were employed in the pre-war years. The decoration and furnishing of the villa also followed the Art Nouveau principles so that the esthetic designs explore forms that were then repeated and echoed elsewhere. 

Vegetal shapes and patterns were developed and mirrored, in the mural decor, mosaics, glass and pieces of furniture alike. Geometrical lines were traced in parallel to create a whole that was based on a living harmony.
Reception area

 Flower clusters, umbels, pine cones, vine leaves and creepers and the Art Nouveau symbol of predilection, the dragonfly, glided together. Natural light was used to illuminate the stained glass windows, whilst magnificent crystal and blown glass chandeliers threw a play of light onto the structure and contents of each room. 

Stained glass detail...

On the staircase the imposing central light fixture with its massive globes and glass droplets weighed over three hundred kilos, was more than ten metres in height and was the showpiece of the (future listed) staircase. The rich light, passing through stained glass found itself repeated and reflected in the wealth of colours in the stenciled wall coverings, all brought to life by the extensive use of gold leaf.

 Little did the architect or his patron know that the golden finery of this Belle Epoque jewel was soon to be tarnished by the grand events of History and later almost lost to the petty vagaries of human nature...

Part of a majestic leather sofa.
Henri Vasnier died in 1907, just one year before the completion of the villa that he had commissioned. On becoming the new director of the Domaine Pommery, Louis Cochet decided to name the villa after himself, rather than in memory of his predecessor, Vasnier. The boulevard that separates the villa and the Pommery Domain opposite would receive that name, but sadly few people today probably know who he actually was, or what he contributed to this prestigious site.

Finally, in 1908, the Villa Cochet was completed. Despite the widespread ravages of the First World War, the Villa Cochet held firm, as did its owner, who inhabited it until the 1930's. From then on the villa's fate was chequered. It went from German occupation in the Second World War, being requisitioned by the Americans in the post-war years, used for housing Pommery VIPs up to the 1970's and finally ending up abandoned until the Vranken intervention .

Magnificent 'grande cheminée' in the main entrance hall...

The Vrankens wished to recreate the style and atmosphere of the original Villa Cochet, but to do so in a living manner which would be far from the strict, often sterile atmosphere of museums. The final result is truly like its namesake le demoiselle, that is to say bearing the delicate, vibrant beauty of the damsel-fly insect and the elegance of the Vranken champagne.

 Referring back to the Art Nouveau creations of Réné Lalique, which often featured the damsel fly, the nascent villa of the 21st century was to weave all these elements together. Thus the past and present were intertwined in the Vranken project as the relic of Villa Cochet of 1908 was resuscitated and renamed as the Villa Demoiselle exactly one hundred years later. 

Vegetal detail of the fireplace...

The original villa had been decorated with the works of Félix Aubert (mural decoration), Georges Picard (paintings), Auguste Laborde (stained-glass windows), Tony Selmerscheim (furniture), the atelier Baguès (chandeliers and light fixtures) and Camille Lefèvre (wood panelling). Needless to say, none of these had escaped the years of marauding and vandalism. 

The Vrankens went about finding pieces of Art Nouveau and Art Déco that would inhabit, invigorate and embellish this vast empty shell. The enormity of the mission was fortunately matched by their determination and resourcefulness. However, while missing parquet was replaced by planks of oak from old barrels that originated in the Listel domain in Camargue (part of the Pommery estate), other items were more difficult to find, but not impossible.

On the ground floor, the main entrance hall is dominated by a magnificent Art Nouveau fireplace designed by Paul-Alexandre Dumas, a pupil of Louis Majorelle (Ecole de Nancy). This had originally been exposed in the Exposition Universelle  at the turn of the century. To see it now, you would believe that it had been made specifically for Villa Demoiselle. 
Furniture on the great landing on the first floor...

Your eyes are soon caught by the detail of the mosaic floor inset, and then the stained-glass doors that lead onto the adjacent reception rooms. Here a mahogany bar designed by Majorelle finds its natural place, although it originally furnished a famous Parisian restaurant before being sold in an auction house, and snapped up by the Vrankens.

  The dining room is similarly decorated in a fashion that faithfully reproduces the villa in its previous life, and yet manages to maintain a living/lived-in feeling.

Chair detail from le Salon Cordoue...
 The dining table is set, the villa as a whole is pleasantly warm and the lighting sets off the beauty of the rooms without being intimidating. Unlike many of the old houses in Reims, large and small alike, the villa is not a succession of tiny rooms, with numerous doors, opening onto snaking corridors. Here, central halls and landings give a spacious, airy impression as they lead onto rooms. In the salon Cordoue on the first floor, you simply want to sit down in one of the armchairs to look at the photos that adorn the walls, all of which track the fortunes and misfortunes of the Villa Cochet.
'Ombelle' detail firm the great fireplace...

 Sadly the visitors are not allowed to take photos of each room on display, a rule that I followed obediently albeit very regretfully! Leaving the ground floor, your gaze is riveted on the majestic staircase with its rich windows and breath-taking glass lighting ordered from the Cristallerie Saint-Louis. This again is set off by the stained-glass windows that wind up the stair well. 

The harmony of glass and light is everywhere; Lalique globes decorate certain pieces of furniture, Emile Gallé lampshades adorn the bedroom suites and a large black Baccarat chandelier, designed by Philippe Starck (the only thing I didn't actually like) dominates the ground floor salon. 

 In the bedroom suites, the rooms take on unusual forms to accommodate the shape of the villa's structure. However comfort is far from excluded as the original bathrooms also offer all the modern facilities too. The feeling that these rooms are accessible to the elite 'Happy Few' adds to a certain homely feeling. You will have to discover these rooms for yourself as photos were strictly banned!

View of the Villa Demoiselle from the Visitors' reception area...
 You cannot imagine that the Villa Demoiselle is not simply a coloured reproduction of the villa seen in the old black and white photos from the early 1900's. TheVrankens have truly brought back to life a sleeping beauty, and thanks to their devotion a fairy tale dream has come true, as corny as that might sound! 

My glass of Champagne Demoiselle...
And it should be added that the glass of Demoiselle champagne that visitors receive at the end of their guided visit transports them back to the reality of the 21st century in the most pleasant manner possible! The Villa Demoiselle can be visited, on reservation, throughout the year.
Tel: 03 26 35 80 50

Réné Lalilique