George V Hotel + L’Orangerie Restaurant Paris

Perfumed Notes | As Myrrh from the Tree

“The physical transformations of Paris can be read as a ceaseless struggle between the spirit of place and the spirit of time.” Eric Hazan

Lunch in Paris is always a good idea. Even on the city’s saddest day – Nôtre Dame is smouldering. It would be a tremendously good idea to go to a hotel with three Michelin starred restaurants one of which has three Michelin stars. Les trois pour Le Cinq. Praise be for Four Seasons George V and its most intimate offering L’Orangerie. Just 18 covers; that’s 18 seats, that’s 18 people, that’s 16 other guests. It took Head Chef David Bizet a mere eight months after opening to snap up a Michelin star. We never tyre tire of the gastronomic galaxy. We’re all dressed up (Calvin Klein | Duchamp | Vivienne Westwood) with somewhere to go.

“By the way, did you know that in Paris everyone has the best bakery at the end of their street?” Inès de la Fressange

We are swept through reception on a French flow of impossibly suave direction, past achingly orgiastic triple epiphanic inducing ceiling tipping floral arrangements – lavender’s lemon – through Le Galerie to our table d’haute. Normandy born David shares, “As someone who loves nature, it is important for me to work with the wonderful products of the French regions. My cuisine has a particular elegance and subtlety, and my take on the product can be appreciated in both its taste and visual appearance.” He further describes his cooking as “a traditional French contemporary cuisine of elegance, refinement and femininity”.

“There are little things that thrilled me more… it is one’s own discoveries – an etching in a bookstall, a crooked street in the Latin Quarter – a quaint church in some forgotten corner, these are all the things one remembers.” Samuel Barber

The interior of L’Orangerie is as starry as its culinary accreditation: a crystalline prism presents a welcome foil to the solidity of Lefranc + Wybo’s original Art Deco white stone architecture. Designer Pierre-Yves Rochon used 2.5 tonnes of glass, 160,000 pieces of Carrara marble and a few Lalique lamps to up the ante, to max the effect, to dazzle with pizzazz. L’Orangerie overlooks the Marble Courtyard; it’s perpendicular to Le Cinq and opposite Le George (the third restaurant). We could easily get distracted by this visual feast and that’s before the feast on (textured, sculptured and abstract) plates arrives. There’s a new axis tilting lunch menu and Charles, the Monsieur Divay variety, Directeur of L’Orangerie and Le Galerie is here to explain, “We’ve more vegetables and seafood on our new menu.” Fantastique! We want to savour the vegan and pescatarian savouries.

Incidentally, the sixth Michelin Guide published by André Michelin, the 1926 edition, set out its raison d’être: “For a certain number of important cities in which the tourist may expect to stop for a meal we have indicated restaurants that have been called to our attention for good food.” Restaurants were graded in three categories, as they are today, from one star “simple but well run” to three stars “restaurants of the highest class”. La Tour d’Argent was one of the first Parisian restaurants to achieve the ultimate recognition.

“All of the sadness of the city came suddenly with the first cold rains of winter… but now it’s spring… Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway

Very incidentally, second floor apartments attract a premium in Paris. Much of the city was rebuilt in the 19th century under the direction of Georges-Eugène Haussmann. A uniformity of design meant the ground floor of blocks was usually commercial with the shopkeepers housed immediately upstairs. The wealthy lived on the second floor or “étage noble”. Far enough from street noise but not too many stairs to climb. The most generously sized apartments with high ceilings and long balconies are still on this floor. Monsieur Haussmann blessed Paris with four square streets of gold, a little bit of heaven come early. The lost and found generation. Paris is always worth it. Sequins of events on a glittering grid.

“The copper dark night sky went glassy over the city crowned with signs and starting alight with windows, the wet square like a lake at the front of the station ramp.” Elizabeth Bowen

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Galignani Bookshop + Rue de Rivoli Paris

There Will be a Moon in Paris Tonight

Cultured Parisiennes like Maud Rabin always comment how Paris is constantly under construction; the city as cathedral. Perhaps that’s how it can lean towards an old architecture yet expressing l’esprit nouveau. Chaneling Channelling our inner Inès (de La Fressange), chic to chic, air kissing and French embracing, we stride along Boulevard Haussmann to a Gershwinesque cacophony of taxi horns. Tout-Paris, tout suite! Palais Garnier is on our right. “It’s full of ghosts!” whispers Maud. “Paris has two opera houses. The other opera house, Bastille, was built in 1989. Très moderne!” Paying homage to the late great Karl Lagerfeld, we head for his favourite bookshop, Galignani. Danielle Cillien Sabatier, Directrice Générale, will later say, “Thank you so much for this really nice publication.”

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Paris + One

Two Nights in Paris

“It’s beyond déjà vu!”

We’re all over the map but the City of Light has its own seductive draw. Maybe it’s the perfect crush of Parisian parties this spring. Maybe it’s the honeycomb hue the stone turns this time of year. Or maybe, racing through the music of time sheet by sheet, Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies are proving the perfect accompaniment to our French Renaissance, our je ne sais ha! Richard E Grant’s fashion designer character Cort Romney in Robert Altman’s film Prêt-à-Porter speaks our minds.

“It’s prêt à go go go!”

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The Gore Hotel Kensington London + Christian Dior

A Half Century | It is Cricket

What’s the story? A Royal Equerry. Raine Spencer’s best friend. An Al Fayad family friend. Two Lulu Guinness handbag hugging hoteliers. A pair of Cavani clad models. The couple who brought Shigeru Ban to Britain. What’s the collective noun for art dealers and architectural historians? A talent of…?  The Mayor’s right hand woman. A man of the cloth. And an engineer. New York, New Zealand, Long Beach, London and Coneywarren’s finest have congregated at The Gore’s 190 Bar for cocktails, canapés and craic. Frivolity between the solemnity of Bach’s Passion of St John (St Paul’s Cathedral) and Handel’s Messiah (Royal Albert Hall). Everyone’s dressed up with somewhere to go: the V+A’s Christian Dior show. Our lips are as sealed as a Man Ray painting. Except to say, turning 50 is good innings.

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Kenwood House Hampstead London +

Creative Cargo Under Embargo

We’re under contract so for once our lips are sealed. Sound. Film rolling. Let’s just say it was a good day for the cut. The Macaronis are coming to town. This summer. Leading our best lives, being our most amazing selves. We’re feeling like Carping the Diem. In the meantime, here are some handsome houses (and an inn missing an apostrophe) to drool over…

Hampstead London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Hampstead Lane London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Kenwood House Hampstead London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Kenwood House Hampstead London Watercolour by Edward Bulmer © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Kenwood House Hampstead London Shoot © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Rosewood Hotel London + Retro Art Afternoon Tea

Up On Reflection

Rosewood Hotel Holborn London Courtyard © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

We’re leisurely making our way round the courtyard of Rosewood Hotel in Holborn, a mere canapé’s throw from Sir John Soane Museum. Our first visit was for dinner in Holborn Dining Room. Second visit, Champagne in Scarfes Bar. Our third visit is for afternoon tea in Mirror Room. These are the last photos you’ll ever see of the Retro Art Afternoon Tea. Fortunately, Rosewood London hasn’t gone the way of Bonhams or Typing Room Restaurants – history. Instead, this fifth edition afternoon tea is being superseded by the Van Gogh Afternoon Tea to coincide with an exhibition in Tate Britain.

Rosewood Hotel Holborn London Hallway © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Retro Art Afternoon Tea is just what the doctor ordered after our inaugural Irish Georgian Society London St Patrick’s Party lecture A Very Grand Tour held at The Medical Society of London, off Harley Street. The lecture might have stretched to 100 slides on 16 buildings in 40 minutes but prepping over dinner in Indian Accent, Albemarle Street’s part subterranean wholly Subcontinental haute cuisine restaurant, eased the intellectual burden. Even an eight hour Very Grand Detour lunch the day before in Hix Soho didn’t detract from a performance as polished as our reflections in Rosewood’s Mirror Room.

Rosewood Hotel Holborn London Bathroom © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Rosewood Hotel Holborn London Flower Arrangement © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Rosewood Hotel Holborn London Sandwiches © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Rosewood Hotel Holborn London Retro Sweets © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

An enigmatic vitrine, shortly to become an evolving diorama of dainty delights, is placed on our table. Pescatarian savouries upfront include salmon vol au vents with cream cheese and keta caviar, egg and watercress sandwiches, and the cucumber and cheese variety. In true Duchess of Bedford tradition, plain and raisin scones follow, accompanied by Corniche Cornish cream, lemon curd, and strawberry and elderflower jam. Queen Victoria Darjeeling blend is a 19th century interrupter. That’s before the afternoon tea leaps another century forwards, starting with retro sweets of Ferrero Rocher | Jaffa Cake | lemon flying saucer | rhubarb and custard. Finally, the vitrine is filled with a very 20th century interruption, a diorama of edible vintage sculptures.

Rosewood Hotel Holborn London Malika Favre Pastry © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

  • Malika Favre inspired pastry: lime and pineapple mousse, raspberry crémeux and sponge, raspberry glaze and chocolate. Malika is a French illustrator and graphic artist based in London. Her bold minimalist style bridges the gap between Pop Art and Op Art.
  • Andy Warhol inspired pastry: Morello cherry jelly, chocolate mousse, vanilla brûlée, flourless chocolate sponge, cherry ganache. Campbell’s Soup is one of Andy Warhol’s most celebrated works of art. Produced in 1962, it’s composed of 32 canvases each representing a can of Campbell’s Soup.
  • Retro Wall Art inspired pastry: vanilla tart case, almond crunchy praline, salted caramel mousse, chocolate crémeux, caramel glaze, chocolate popping candy. Wall Art took on a new meaning in Seventies and Eighties, embracing geometrics and flowers in bright colours.

Rosewood Hotel Holborn London Andy Warhol Pastry © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“As a Pastry Chef, I’m always curious and draw inspiration from things that surround me. London is a vibrant city with an incredibly energetic art scene. Rosewood London’s quirky interiors reflect the British capital’s history, culture and sensibilities,” explains Executive Pastry Chef Mark Perkins. “The interiors feature works of some of the world’s most renowned artists, with contemporary pieces complemented by more traditional art. My latest creations are inspired by retro art from the Sixties to the Eighties.” Next time, we’ll complete our Rosewood London courtyard journey with a leisurely visit to Sense Spa.

Rosewood Hotel Holborn London Retro Wall Inspired Pastry © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Pitzhanger Manor London + Anish Kapoor

Master of Mirrors, Master of Light

Pitzhanger Manor Party Relaunch © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

It’s the GSM rule. The thicker the invitation card, the better the party. The relaunch of Pitzhanger Manor proved the point. Sir John Soane’s former country house – post a £12 million facelift (or rather major surgical enhancement by Jestico + Whiles working with Julian Harrap Architects) – on a stormy night was filled with lights and flowers and music and guests.

Pitzhanger Manor Party Column © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“Lord Lieutenant, Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen,” began Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chair of The Trustees. “The house was built 220 years ago. The library, 80 years ago. The garden room, three years ago.” He spoke in the garden room now rebranded Soane’s Kitchen. You guessed, it’s a café by day, venue by night. Designed by Jestico + Whiles, Soane’s Kitchen is an elegantly understated pavilion set in the walled garden.

Pitzhanger Manor Party Eagle © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Pitzhanger Manor Party © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Pitzhanger Manor Party Lantern © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Pitzhanger Manor Party London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Pitzhanger Manor Party Ealing © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Pitzhanger Manor Party Light © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Pitzhanger Manor Party Chinese Wallpaper © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Pitzhanger Manor Party Chinoiserie Wallpaper © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Pitzhanger Manor Party Piers Gough © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Sir Sherard continued, “Every house is unique. There are degrees of uniqueness. Artfully antinomian eclecticism? That’s Pitzhanger. Not for Soane the menu de siècle. He dined à la carte. Pitzhanger is a cocktail of Georgian and gothic eccentricity. Austere and extravagant.” He praised the artist who hand painted the spectacular upper drawing room wallpaper: “Alistair Peoples, champion of Chinoiserie wallpaper!”

Pitzhanger Manor Party Anish Kapoor © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The inaugural exhibition in the library turned art gallery is by Anish Kapoor. Sir Sherard acknowledged, “Anish Kapoor sets a very high standard of excitement and artistic imagination.” The former Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan ended by saying, “Pitzhanger is at the intersection of art and architecture and design. It is Soane’s enduring legacy. Two centuries on, he stands so tall. Pitzhanger – the jewel in the crown of the rapidly reviving Queen of the Suburbs! A wonderfully uplifting zig in a world too full of zags.”

Pitzhanger Manor Party Anish Kapoor Exhibition © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Anish spoke on the “amber melancholic Turneresque light” of Pitzhanger’s stained glass windows. “It’s like a fading yellow page of ethereal importance,” he observed. “I tried to play with it too. I do what I do. Let the conversation happen if it must.” The night ended well: a goody bag of colourful macaroons courtesy of Coutts.

Pitzhanger Manor Party Anish Kapoor Art © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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St Ferréol Church + Old Port Marseille

A Reverse Chronology

St Ferreol Church Marseille © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Marseille is over in a flash: fleeting days in the sun, days a mere handbreadth, mere phantoms in the sun. To paraphrase Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, we’ve zigged our way through the zaggers. Our last place of discovery is an historic building in Vieux Port. We’re taking a moment to rewind the years and decades and centuries.

St Ferreol Church Marseille Facade © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

St Ferreol Church Marseille Chapel © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

St Ferreol Church Marseille Altar © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

St Ferreol Church Marseille Bust © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

  • 2019: Lavender’s Blue descend on St Ferréol Church.
  • 1979: A statue of the Holy Family by Yves Le Pape is added to the third chapel on the right.
  • 1875: The façade is rebuilt, incorporating a statue of the Immaculate Conception, as part of the construction of the Rue de la République.
  • 1844: Augustin Zeiger builds and installs the gothic style organ.
  • 1801: The façade and first bay of the church are demolished to make way for road widening.
  • 1800s: The Jesuits take over the running of the church.
  • 1700s: The multicoloured marble altar is installed.
  • 1700s: The bell tower is erected.
  • 1600: A bust of the Patron Saint is placed in the third chapel on the left.
  • 1588: The vault is completed.
  • 1564: The tomb of the Mazenod family is established in the third chapel on the left.
  • 1542: The Augustinian church is dedicated on 15 January.
  • 1379: The building is transferred to Augustinian monks.
  • 1100s: Knights Templar erect a building on the current site.
  • 200s: St Ferréol is martyred for refusing to offer a sacrifice to idols

St Ferreol Church Marseille Plaque © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

 

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Palais du Pharo + Marseille

The Phocaen City

Palais du Pharo Marseille © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Napoleon III’s waterside pad hogs one of the best spots in the city. Marseille’s best dressed palace is now a conference centre for its best dressed delegates. Hector-Martin Lefuel, known for his work at the Louvre, was commissioned in the early 1850s to design a summerhouse fit for an Emperor. Napoleon III never actually stayed in this palace. After his death, Empress Eugénie donated Palais du Pharo to the city. A people’s palace.

Pharo Palace Marseille © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Marseille Palace Vieux Port © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Marseille + Catalans Beach

Avec le Temps

Plage du Catalans Marseille © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The Corniche begins.

Catalans Beach Marseille © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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