French Fancies: Eres

While my beloved has plenty of pairs of Vilebrequin swim shorts, I just have two swimsuits. Classic black and an emerald green both from French company Eres which started with swimwear and has since expanded into lingerie, casual and active wear.  All of its products are highly covetable. Their pieces are simple. They fit. They come in great colours. There’s nothing complicated about them—no weird straps or hard to figure out bodices.

How it all began

Eres was the name of a boutique in Place de la Madeleine that sold bathing suits and other garments in the Twenties in Paris. Irène Leroux’s family acquired the shop in the Fifties. When Leroux’s father died in 1968, she took over the business and decided to focus on retailing her own line rather than carrying others. She opened her doors in May of that year, but had to close the next day because of student riots. That dramatic debut seems fitting for a brand that has been credited with changing the concept of modern swimwear.

Eres was the first brand to sell swimwear all year round. In the 1970s, Eres also became famous for its radical interpretations of bathing suits — including the creation of two-piece swimsuits with different-sized tops and bottoms to reflect more realistically the female shape. It also eliminated armature like underwires and padding from suit designs.

Since those early days Eres has built a reputation on creating elegant swimwear with streamlined silhouettes that mold to the body. One fashion critic explaining the sophisticated appeal of the brand said:

Eres makes the best little black swimsuits in the world. They are the Coco Chanel of swimsuits.

Eres’ predominantly female swimwear designers, working in a light-filled atelier on the top floor of the brand’s headquarters on Boulevard Voltaire, in the 11th Arrondissement, look to create visual impact through unexpected colour choices, working with colours that are not necessarily easy to wear on the beach. Generally,  something that is always out of the ordinary. They claim:

You really have to have a deep understanding of the female body. You need to try things on, and it is only by trying things on that you discover what works and what doesn’t. There is a female sensibility to it. A man is going to be more focused on the fantasy and his own projections of a woman, whereas a woman will focus on the realities of a woman’s daily life.

To the design team this means creating bathing suits that respect the natural curves of the body and enhance them through the use of state-of-the-art fabrics and cutting-edge design techniques, which include the injecting of silicon into layers of fabric to create a padded effect — as in a raised bow motif or a spongy spring to straps — and laser cutting to create precise forms.

The two exclusive materials that act as the base for the brand’s swimwear line are called Peau Douce and Parachute. The exact make-up of these materials, which mix polyamid and spandex, is a company secret. But the results they achieve have proved popular: The dense weave of the Peau Douce claims to sculpt and support the body, while the more relaxed Parachute fabric is prepped to whip away water so that a suit dries fast.

In 1996, Eres was bought by Chanel, broadening the brand’s reach and distribution capabilities, and in 1998 the swimwear company entered the lingerie and shapewear market. Once again Eres set its sights on building collections that focused on fabric technology and ergonomic design.

Initially, Irène Leroux retained the artistic direction of the brand before stepping down in 2007 to be replaced by Valérie Delafossen, a former stylist for Princesse tam.tam and many other brands. In 2013, Marie-Paule Minchelli (studio director at Eres since 2008) and Yasmine Eslami replaced Delafosse as joint artistic directors, with the former assuming sole responsibility in 2018.

What you’re paying for

On average, a new Eres swimwear collection takes two years. The brand tests each bathing suit in a number of different conditions, from sand and sun to washing machines and chlorine, and most of the Eres staff will “test-drive” prototypes to see how the suits work on different body shapes and how they hold up under everyday conditions.

Once the fabrics have been selected and the validated designs have been translated into patterns that are cut out in fabric and mounted, each prototype is perfected by the team in preparation for the production stage.

The pieces are graded from 38 to 48 in European sizes. All retouches are made on models, using mirrors to see the pieces from all angles, and each size is tested on a range of morphologies. Adjustments to the patterns — such as the tweaking of a décolleté or a neck strap — are made using computer software for precision. All validated fabrics are put through a series of tests in a lab in the site’s basement before being green-lighted for production.

Downstairs in their Paris-based design studio, Eres has the “destroy lab” where each style is tested with the harshest conditions: light, sand, and water, to see what the suit can withstand and how it will wear over time. All of the hardware (anything “extra” that’s put on the suit) is also tested with heat for the same purpose.

For each palette, the team will have tested numerous nuances of each shade; the colour has to be spot-on. the team also factors in things like how a colour will sit on different shades of skin, or the sun at the different times of year, because it also has winter collections. Minchelli, who experiments with the cuts and materials to shape the pieces on the body, explained:

A colour will change under the sun or in water. Eres is all about the architecture of the body, colour and freedeom of movement.

 

Another machine that simulates body heat tests the fabric for bleeding when subjected to water, sweat, chlorinated water and seawater.

The fabric is also stretched using a membrane that pushes up like a thumb to create a dome shape that distends the warp and the weave, to test how quickly it regains its shape.The models are then assembled, with the seamstresses carrying out a variety of operations on different machines throughout the day. Eres’ signatures include flat-felled seams, and the curved bust darts that feature on the cups, a dexterous manual operation.

The final stage is referred to as “épluchage,” which means “peeling” in English. There, the finished garments are sent to a station where workers manually inspect and clean up the pieces, removing stray threads or trimming any parts that overlap using scissors and blades. The measurements are also checked to make sure the piece corresponds with the size marked on the label.

Perfection doesn’t come cheap but if you look at the price in terms of cost per wear, it’s wholly justifiable. At least, that’s what I told myself.

All images courtesy of Eres

Song Lyric Sunday #43

This week’s prompt for Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday Challenge is City/County/Country/State/Town. Places like New York and California feature prominently, so what do I have in my archives that fits the bill? How about New York: Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys?

Alicia Keys is an American singer-songwriter, actress and classically-trained pianist. Keys released her debut album, Songs in A Minor in 2001. The album was critically and commercially successful, producing her first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single and selling over 12 million copies worldwide. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002.

Her second album, The Diary of Alicia Keys (2003), was also a critical and commercial success, spawning successful singles and selling eight million copies worldwide. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards. Her duet My Boo with Usher became her second number-one single in 2004. Keys released her first live album, Unplugged (2005), and became the first woman to have an MTV Unplugged album debut at number one. Her third album, As I Am (2007), sold 7 million copies worldwide and earned her an additional three Grammy Awards.

Her fourth album, The Element of Freedom (2009), became her first chart-topping album in the UK, and sold 4 million copies worldwide. In 2009, Keys also collaborated with Jay Z on “Empire State of Mind”, which became her fourth number-one single and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.

Empire State of Mind is recognized as a modern-day anthem for New York City.  Both Jay-Z (Brooklyn) and Alicia Keys (Harlem) are New York City natives, and they teamed up on this track to represent their hometown. Accordingly the titular “Empire State” has been a popular nickname of New York since 19th century.  The song deals with topics as diverse as recognising celebrities who live in the city to chronicling the tale of a female runaway who got caught in the snares therein.

This song was originally conceived by a pair of NYC writers named Janet Sewell and Angela Hunte who came up with the tune while visiting London in 2009 and suffering from homesickness. The song came to the attention of Jay-Z after the two writers submitted the tune (twice) to his label Roc Nation. Sewell and Hunte received both writing and production credit for the song, as did Al Shux. And the track’s other co-writers are as follows:

  • Sylvia Robinson
  • Jay-Z
  • Alicia Keys

Robinson is an old school performer who is actually one of the pioneers of hip-hop. And the reason she is credited as a co-writer is because “Empire State of Mind” samples a track she wrote that came out in 1970 entitled “Love on a Two-Way Street”, by the Moments.

Keys has received numerous accolades in her career, including 15 competitive Grammy Awards, 17 and an award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and National Music Publishers Association. She has sold over 50 million albums and 40 million singles worldwide making her one of the world’s best-selling music artists and was named by Billboard the top R&B artist of the 2000s decade.

Lyrics: Empire State of Mind

Yeah
Yeah I’m out that Brooklyn, now I’m down in Tribeca
Right next to DeNiro, but I’ll be hood forever
I’m the new Sinatra, and, since I made it here
I can make it anywhere, yeah, they love me everywhere
I used to cop in Harlem, all of my Dominicanos
Right there up on Broadway, pull me back to that McDonald’s
Took it to my stashbox, 560 State St
Catch me in the kitchen like a Simmons wippin’ pastry’s
Cruisin’ down 8th St, off white Lexus
Drivin’ so slow, but BK is from Texas
Me, I’m out that Bed-Stuy, home of that boy Biggie
Now I live on Billboard and I brought my boys with me
Say what up to Ty-Ty, still sippin’ Mai Tais
Sittin’ courtside, Knicks and Nets give me high five
Nigga I be Spike’d out, I could trip a referee (come on, come on, come on)
Tell by my attitude that I’m most definitely from

In New York (ayy, ah-ha) (uh, yeah)
Concrete jungle (yeah) where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do (yeah) (okay)
Now you’re in New York (ah-ha, ah-ha, ah-ha) (uh, yeah)
These streets will make you feel brand new (new)
Big lights will inspire you (come on) (okay)
Let’s hear it for New York (you’re welcome, OG) (come on)
New York (yeah), New York (uh) (I made you hot)
Catch me at the X with OG at a Yankee game
Shit, I made the Yankee hat more famous then a Yankee can
You should know I bleed blue, but I ain’t a Crip though
But I got a gang of niggas walkin’ with my clique though
Welcome to the melting pot, corners where we sellin’ rock
Afrika Bambataa shit, home of the hip-hop
Yellow cab, gypsy cab, dollar cab, holla back
For foreigners it ain’t fair, they act like they forgot how to act
Eight million stories, out there in the naked
City is a pity, half of y’all won’t make it
Me, I got a plug, Special Ed “I Got It Made”
If Jesus payin’ Lebron, I’m payin’ Dwyane Wade
Three dice cee-lo, three card Monte
Labor Day Parade, rest in peace Bob Marley
Statue of Liberty, long live the World Trade (come on, come on, come on)
Long live the King yo, I’m from the Empire State that’s
In New York (ayy, ah-ha) (uh, yeah)
Concrete jungle (yeah) where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do (that boy good) (okay)
Now you’re in New York (uh, yeah)
(Welcome to the bright lights, baby)
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you (okay)
Let’s hear it for New York (come on)
New York (yeah), New York (uh)
Lights is blinding, girls need blinders
So they can step out of bounds quick, the sidelines is
Lined with casualties, who sip the life casually
Then gradually become worse, don’t bite the apple, Eve
Caught up in the in-crowd, now you’re in style
End of the winter gets cold, en vogue, with your skin out
City of sin, it’s a pity on the whim
Good girls gone bad, the city’s filled with them
Mommy took a bus trip, now she got her bust out
Everybody ride her, just like a bus route
“Hail Mary” to the city, you’re a virgin
And Jesus can’t save you, life starts when the church end
Came here for school, graduated to the high life
Ball players, rap stars, addicted to the limelight
MDMA got you feelin’ like a champion (come on, come on, come on)
The city never sleeps, better slip you an Ambien
In New York (ayy, ah-ha) (uh, yeah)
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do (okay)
Now you’re in New York (uh, yeah)
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you (okay)
Let’s hear it for New York (come on)
New York (yeah), New York (uh)
One hand in the air for the big city
Street lights, big dreams, all lookin’ pretty
No place in the world that could compare
Put your lighters in the air everybody say
“Yeah, yeah” (come on, come on, come on)
“Yeah, yeah”
In New York (uh, yeah)
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothin’ you can’t do (okay)
Now you’re in New York (uh, yeah)
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let’s hear it for New York (come on)
New York (yeah), New York (uh)

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Alexander William Shuckburgh / Alicia J Augello-Cook / Shawn C Carter / Angela Hunte / Bert Keyes / Sylvia Robinson / Janet Sewell
Empire State Of Mind lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Challenge Rules

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not. If it does not fit, then please explain why you chose this song.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to Jim’s post or place your link in his comments section.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Most of all, have fun and enjoy the music.

The Musette: Miso-caramel apple crumble

What do you do with wrinkly but still edible apples? You turn them into dessert. As you all know my beloved adores dessert, he believes a meal isn’t complete without one. I tend to store the apples in the fridge until I have enough to make something. This one is an interesting spin on that classic, apple crumble.

Warning: Apologies for lack of photos which I’ll insert once my WiFi is back on….long story but it was cut off on Tuesday afternoon.

Ingredients (serves 4)

Miso-caramel apples

  • 40g (11/2oz) unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 cloves/1 baton cinnamon/1 star anise
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 4 eating apples, cored and each cut into 12
  • 40g (11/2oz) raw sugar
  • 50ml (31/2tbsp) brandy/calvados/dark rum
  • 1 tbsp organic lemon juice

Nut crumble

  • 80g (3oz) pecan/almond/macadamia nuts
  • 100g (31/2oz) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 80g (3oz) raw sugar
  • 80g (3oz) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 50g (2oz) rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Method

1. For nut crumble, preheat oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan) and line an oven tray with greaseproof (parchment) paper. Coarsely chop  nuts in a food processor, add butter, sugar, salt and flour, and blitz until coarse crumbs form. Stir in oats, spread mixture on oven tray and bake, stirring occasionally until golden brown (15 -20 minutes). If you want the crumble to clump more, add an egg to the crumb mix.

2. Heat butter, sugar, choice of spice and miso in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add apples and toss occasionally until apples begin to caramelise (8 – 10 minutes). Add liquor of choice and lemon juice, and cook until apples are glazed and tender, and liquid reduces to caramel stickiness (2-3 minutes).

3. Discard spices and serve hot with ice-cream/whipped cream/creme fraiche and a scattering of crumble.

 

Sculpture Saturday #60

Leaving behind the posts of the past few weeks of works in the  Nagyharsány sculpture park in Villany, Hungary, I’m back looking at local civic structures.

Belambra La Colle-sur-Loup - ABC Salles

Image courtesy of Artcurial

This striking sculpture by American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898 – 1976) was previously on display in La Colle sur Loup in a Village Vacances Familles, chosen in 1969 because some of his works were already decorating the entrance garden of the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence.

This piece which is entirely characteristic of the artist’s style during that period is a “stabile” sculpture made up of simple geometric shapes like trapezoids and triangles accompanied by concave edges and sharp angles that are cut freely out of thick metal plates and reinforced by ribs to ensure rigidity. The structure is very bold and rests firmly on its four support points. It belongs to the same family of work as Guillotine for Eight, a 1962 piece installed in the Musée d’Art Moderne at Villeneuve d’Ascq. Other Calder stabiles are installed in remarkable, highly visited spaces: this piece counted among the artist’s masterpieces. It was put up for sale in July 2020.

It was exhibited in the courtyard of the Hotel Marcel Dassault until its sale for just under Euros 5 million. It was the very first time that a stabile of this scope signed by the American artist has been auctioned in France.

This challenge is kindly hosted by Susan Kelly over at No Fixed Plans.

Share a photo of a statue or sculpture – go on, give it a go, you know you want to!

Friendly Friday Challenge: road trip

The Friendly Friday Challenge is now a fortnightly challenge co-hosted by Amanda from Something to Ponder About and Sandy from The Sandy Chronicles. 

Sandy’s  Friendly Friday Blog Challenge is about road trips. I’ve written extensively and ad nauseum about our various road trips around Australia and now I’m going to look at some rather closer to home. Last week’s looked at two trips we’d built around bike racing and this week, I’ve two more.

I’m currently enjoying watching the Giro d’Italia which we’ve seen a number of times in the past, most notably its 100th edition which began in Sardinia. I wrote a couple of posts about our trip.

Postcard from Sardinia I and Postcard from Sardinia II

Then, back in 2018, we kicked off a month long holiday which concluded in San Sebastian beginning with the Tour stage in La Baule where both my beloved and I had spent childhood vacations. So it was yet another trip down memory lane.

Route of the 2018 Tour de France

The post Holiday sets out our planned itinerary. I then posted a picture or two every day from our vacation: Holiday photos day 1 to day 32. Plus, I wrote posts about some of the locations Rioja, Pornichet and  Saint Jean de Luz. 

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This year the girls are are opening up the challenge, making its focus not purely on photography but making it a little more varied, a little more open and interesting.

How to join the Challenge

  • Write a post titled ‘Friendly Friday- xxx Prompt name xxx’ with tag ‘Friendly Friday’
  • Include a link to the original Friendly Friendly Challenge post on the host’s blog
  • Optionally, you can include the latest Friendly Friday Challenge logo. Download it here.
  • Comment on the host’s Friendly Friday post, so that other readers can find and read your response.
  • Remember to include a link to your post in your comment. This will guarantee a visit, in the event the automatic ping-back does not work.
  • Visit other Friendly Friday entries by following their links. It’s fun!
  • Follow the host blogs to see future Friendly Friday Challenges
The Benefits
  • Increase your exposure in our blogging communities
  • Inspire and be inspired by diverse blog articles
  • Challenge your creativity
  • Make new friends and keep in touch with old ones

Are you joining in this year? Go on……you know it’ll be fun!

Cee’s Flower of the Day #106

What fun showcasing beautiful flora – flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes and leaves – throughout the year.

Cee’s challenge is all about bringing a little beauty and colour into our daily lives. Who wouldn’t be in favour of that?

Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers

One from the Vaults: Postcard from Giro 2018: part I

When times permits I have been dipping in and out of the 2021 Giro d’Italia a stage of which also went over the Zoncolan last Saturday. Here I’m revisiting our most recent trip to watch the race.

We kicked off our Giro adverture in NE Italy, staying in Pordenone, which has a beautiful Old Town surrounded by a river and plenty of greenery. It’s a place and area we both know well as my beloved has clients here and I have a dear friend living nearby in Asolo. It’s our first visit since the Giro 2016 and we’ve enjoyed visiting old haunts and finding new ones.

Conveniently we arrived at Apero’clock and headed straight into the bar opposite the hotel for an Aperol Spritz. It was superior to those we’d recently drunk in Paris. We’re beginning to think that they’re like coffee, better and cheaper in Italy. It was easily as good as the one I recently drank at the Carlton in Cannes which was 10 times the price!

I’d elected to dine in my favourite restaurant but “shock, horror” we found it was closed and undergoing renovation. So we went to my second favourite. We fortunately arrived there ahead of a large party who’d laid on some entertainment, a chap at an organ singing. It was truly dreadful and we were grateful we were seated at the other end of the restaurant. The dog on the table next to us started howling, whether in protest or to drown out the singing I have no idea but………In any event, dinner was delicious and we quickly departed for an early night.

Prosecco!

Next morning we headed to our first stage – no 13, unlucky for some – from Ferrarra to Nervesa della Battaglia. The finish town was in Prosecco country, so hopes were high that it would be one of those delightful historic towns with plenty of Baroque architecture set around a chaming town square lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. Sadly, our hopes were cruelly dashed.

They had bicycle regiments in WW1

The finish town had absolutely nothing to commend it. The locals had done their best, festooning it with pink flowers, bunting and balloons. Its claim to fame is only as the site of an important WWI battle – the Giro was celebrating 100 years since it ended. Otherwise, the town is totally unremarkable.

After a quick walk around town, we ate at the only place serving meals rather than just panini. Chaos reigned within. We waited 40 mins for a drink, a further 20 mins for our starter and, after another 75 minutes, gave up on our main course. However, I do believe one of the members of staff may have provided Julie Walters with inspiration for Mrs Overall. Though even she melted when ladies’ fave former pro-rider Bernie Eisel sat down at the next table with the Eurosport crew. She served them in record time! Though, to be fair, the restaurant was now practically empty.  It took me a further 15 minutes to pay and even that was only thanks to the timely intervention of the Rai television crew.

Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates graced the leader’s jersey for 13 days

On the upside, a local producer of Prosecco distributed bottles of same in the press room so we picked up one each – result. The race passed through the town once before the finish on what was a rare day for the sprinters, ahead of Saturday’s fearsome stage to Monte Zoncolan. The last of the four-man break was sucked back in within sight of the line and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)  took his third stage, tightening his grip on the puce jersey – a colour, I should add, that suits no one, at any time, anywhere.

See what I mean about the colour?

We hung back to watch Alessandro di Stefano’s Rai TV show Processo alla Tappa (After the Stage). A consummate professional from her finger tips to her toes, she asks all the right questions and rapidly summarises the key points. Sadly we missed Apero’clock due to the huge traffic jam as everyone fled the town.

Once back at base, we ate at one of the newer restaurants in town which has now gone on “The List”. Dessert was an ice cream from the shop in the town square which is owned by a former professional cyclist who still looks pretty trim. He obviously doesn’t over-indulge on his products.

The stage start on Saturday in San Vito al Tagliamento was just down the road from where we were staying. I hung around the buses to drop off some cakes that I’m sure would be appreciated after the day’s tough stage which finished on the iconic Monte Zoncolan. It took me a while to locate everyone, as the parking was so disorganised. As usual the space allocated for the buses was far too small so they were spread all over the place.

20 consecutive Grand Tours for Adam Hansen and he’s still smiling!
All roads lead to…………..

This start town was much more to our liking and was absolutely packed to the rafters with both locals and visitors and, as usual, bedecked in pink. Because space was limited at the Monte Zoncolan finish, we elected to watch it on the television. We were somewhat surprised by Chris Froome’s (Sky) resurrection but he did say he’d reccied the stage beforehand. His planning and preparation was rewarded with a surprising stage win, although race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) managed to limit his losses. Saturday evening, we tried a well-known fish restaurant in Pordenone which was excellent and wondered why we’d never eaten there before. It too went on “The List.”

Defending champion Tom Dumoulin signing on
Thibaut Pinot: Is Tibbles now the French housewives favourite?

Again, Sunday’s start stage of Tolmezzo was not too far away though closer to the Austrian border. It was yet another charming Italian town albeit one with an Alpine feel. Unfortunately, the shops were open and I spotted a lovely handbag that I just had to acquire! If only the organisers had given me access to the sign-on, this would never have happened. Again, to avoid the traffic, we watched the stage conclusion on the television even though the finish town wasn’t too far away. Consequently, we were around for the all important aperotivo which preceeded a trip to our favourite pizza joint.

The Giro’s lovely podium girls

We spent Monday’s rest day in Ljubljana before heading to Lake Garda where we spent two nights at the same hotel we stayed in en route to Seefeld at Christmas. You can read all about it in part II.

Thursday doors #118

I still haven’t managed to add to my vast archive of doors. So, once again, here’s some Germanic doors from the darkest depths of my archives.

 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Dan’s site https://nofacilities.com, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

 

Cee’s Flower of the Day #105

I really enjoy showcasing beautiful flora – flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes and leaves – throughout the year.

Cee’s challenge is all about bringing a little beauty and colour into our daily lives. Who wouldn’t be in favour of that?

Challenge rules, why not join in?

1.Feel free to post every day or whenever you you feel like it.  You can either post new flower photos or dig back into your archives.

2. Depending on the time of year, you can post any of these types of things for your FOTD.

  • Single flowers
  • Buds
  • Multiple flowers
  • Bouquet
  • Flower fields
  • Wildflowers
  • Tree or bush blossoms
  • Autumn leaves
  • Spring leaves
  • Decorative Cabbage
  • Berries
  • Still life
  • Fake or Silk Flowers

History of the Hotel de Paris, Monaco

To understand the story of the hotel, you need to acquaint yourself with the history of where it stands. While today, Monaco is a financially thriving Riviera destination, nestled snugly between France and Italy, in 19th century it was a bankrupt town.

In an effort to alleviate the principality’s debt, Prince Charles III of Monaco and his mother, Princess consort Maria Caroline, built a major entertainment hub to attract high rollers. The royals were able to convince French billionaire and entrepreneur François Blanc to take on the challenge. The Plateau des Spélugues area, which was used to cultivate olive and lemon trees, was transformed to what is Place du Casino today.

To fund the venture, the Société des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers (SBM) was formed; which today still manages various Monte Carlo properties. As predicted, the casino attracted wealthy visitors – who required somewhere suitably smart to sleep. In 1864, Blanc and his wife Marie opened the most famous hotel in Monaco: the Hôtel de Paris.

Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III at a Gala Dinner, 1957.

Designed by architect Godinot de la Bretonnerie, the hotel complemented the belle epoque exterior of the casino. Its lavish decor oozed opulence, befitting its monied clientele. After the hotel came Café de Paris and soon Plateau des Spélugues became a real town, gaining its formal name, Monte Carlo, in 1866. Three years later it was attracting more than 170,000 tourists – and as the crowds got bigger, so did the city. The next major move was entertainment, and in 1878 the opera house was built. More accommodation was needed, leading to Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo and, much later, the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel and Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, all under the SBM umbrella.

The real metamorphosis of Monte Carlo came during the reign of Prince Rainier III. From 1949, the much-loved sovereign prince, who reigned for 56 years, was affectionately called the “builder prince.” Under his rule, Monaco not only became a member of the UN, it was also reinvented as a financial centre, where the wealthy could base themselves and see their riches grow thanks to the tax-free regime. Elegant mansions were built, as well as shopping malls and a train station. Land was reclaimed from the sea and the country grew by 20%. While the infrastructure was growing, Prince Rainier’s wife, Hollywood star Grace Kelly, added the X-factor. She helped make Monaco a magnet for the most glamorous and famous faces, all of whom relished staying at Hôtel de Paris.

The two-bedroom Prince Rainier III Suite. Image: Ämr Ezzeldinn

Celebrity guests have ranged from artists and royalty to award-winning stars of stage and cinema. Maria Callas, Charlie Chaplin, Salvador Dalí, Winston Churchill, and the Prince of Wales have all stepped through its hallowed entrance. During the 1950s, the world came to visit the Princely Couple. In 1956, they celebrated their wedding breakfast at Hôtel de Paris – apparently, when Prince Rainier III cut into the six-tier white wedding cake, gifted by the hotel’s pastry chefs, a pair of doves flew out. The couple were regulars at the hotel, with it becoming their go-to venue for celebrations – they celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary with an intimate dinner in the cellar and hosted a party to mark 25 years of Prince Rainier’s reign.

The hotel lobby with the bronze statue of Louis XIV. Image: Ämr Ezzeldinn

When Princess Grace established the annual Rose Ball in 1954, she started a tradition of guests being welcomed in the lobby of the hotel. The couple was utterly adored in the principality, so it was inevitable that the hotel’s recent €250 million renovations should include two magnificently grand suites dedicated to each royal. The Princess Grace Suite was the first to open, in 2017. Paying homage to the late royal, the two-story room features elegant design elements reflective of her style – precious wood, straw marquetry, mother-of-pearl details, and agate panels. Artwork featuring the princess, borrowed from the palace itself, adorn the walls, while the outdoor rose bush is another subtle reference. The private office, which has its own entrance, was added by her son, Prince Albert II, who felt it necessary to have a space where guests could still work and hold meetings without disturbing the family. Outside, the impressive grand terraces, with 180-degree views of Monte Carlo, infinity pool, and bespoke granite hot tub, create a feeling of being on top of the world.

The Prince Rainier III suite is the real jewel of the hotel. Inaugurated by Prince Albert II in February 2019, it’s a rooftop villa that stretches across 525 sqm (5,250 sq ft), with 135 sqm (1,350 sq ft) exterior space. Designed by Richard Martinet, the two bedroom suite, complete with a large main lounge, smaller lounge, library, dining room, and office space, contains original photos, paintings, and some of Prince Rainier’s personal effects, including sculptures made by him. The star of the show, however, is not the glass-walled sauna that opens onto the Mediterranean sky, but the expansive terrace, with its breath-taking views over the Place du Casino. Rumour has it that one Monaco resident booked the suite for at least a month while his home underwent renovation – at a starting price of €35 000 a night – ouch!

Lounge of the two-bedroom Prince Rainier III suite. Image: Ämr Ezzeldinn

The renovations, which took just over four years, also saw additional rooms being built and existing rooms made bigger and brought up to date. Architects Martinet and Gabriel Viora added touches of modernity, breathing new life into the historic features. In the Salle Empire, the original paintings were cleaned, while the lobby was revamped to give access to the boutique-filled courtyard, Le Patio, which leads to One Monte Carlo luxury shopping promenade.

Le Grill restaurant, which its retractable roof enabling dinner under the stars, was extended with an outdoor terrace and the new Winston Churchill lounge – the British prime minister was a regular at the hotel. Following the popularity of the three-Michelin star restaurant Louis XV – Alain Ducasse, the chef launched Ômer, with a Mediterranean menu. This latest gastronomic venture, designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, overlooks the lush new garden. Guests of the hotel enjoy complimentary access to Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo spa as well as Monte Carlo Beach Club – with its seven Michelin star venues, Monte Carlo SBM has the highest number of Michelin stars of any European resort.

While the modernisation of Hôtel de Paris has continued the efforts of Prince Rainier III to bring the world to Monte Carlo, the soul of the Monégasque icon remains the same. It’s a living museum that continues Francois Blanc’s dream :

….to be a hotel which surpasses everything that has been created until now.