I have a new article over at Girls’ Guide to Paris if anyone wants to take a gander.
I thought I’d share the story behind the story, too. (Oh! Could that be a new feature? Let’s put it in quotes then: “the story behind the story.”)
So I got to visit this boutique hotel on the Left Bank – not far from the Luxembourg Gardens – called the Hotel des Academies et des Arts. A cute couple, Laurent and Charlotte Inchauspé, owns the small design hotel and gave “carte blanche” to renowned street artist Jerome Mesnager to do whatever he desired with the space. A modest group (6-7) writers were invited for a tour and to meet the artist in person.
It soon became clear I was the only anglophone present. All of the other invitees were French bloggers and/or journalists. Question: could I cover a story entirely in French for the first time?
Good news: Turns out I can!
That was already a score, but the afternoon itself was lovely. I’ll let you read about the hotel itself if you’re interested, but it was a real pleasure meeting people following their passion. The couple didn’t have a background in the hotel industry before launching the endeavour. In fact, Charlotte produced TV bloopers before (!) and Laurent worked in cinema production.
No, they just wanted a project they could work on together, they said. (Cue it: “awww. So sweet.”) I could tell they were just excited to try something new and to be working on a common goal. (Please, universe: I want this in my future partner!)
Even cooler was the artist connection. Namely, that they had no connection to the artist. Charlotte had been a big fan of Jerome Mesnager’s work since she was a little girl, and when they were bouncing ideas around about how to decorate their hotel she wondered if he’d be open to the idea of painting some of his iconic “corps blanc” on their walls.
They googled him (yes, simply googled!), found his website, and sent him a message to ask if he wanted in on the project. He accepted.
Why would a famous street artist choose a hotel run by a couple of strangers as his canvas? Why not? As he said, if someone has trust in your work, you do good work. (There’s a lesson for all of us artists in that, I think).
The fact that the Inchauspés gave him free rein to create as he wanted definitely inspired him. His playful white figures dance across the walls. He himself was such a laid-back, affable man, it was impossible not to like him.
It wasn’t part of the tour, but some of us went across the street to take a sneak peek at the academy of art, too. A life drawing class was about to start.
The Hotel des Academies et des Arts draws on the creative pedigree of the neighborhood (Picasso and Gaugin hung out here, and Modigliani had his atelier in the hotel itself.) You know I try not to buy into the Paris of fantasy, but it was pretty hard not to feel like I’d happily stumbled into some artsy dream.
The best part is that it was real. Despite tipping the hat to design, the couple’s warmth made it feel down-to-earth, too.
I certainly can’t afford to stay in boutique hotels when I travel, but I’d sure be happy to stay here if I could. For an afternoon, though, I got a tiny glimpse of what it might be like. I have to say, my job ain’t half bad.
To read my article on the hotel, click here.
Website for the Hotel des Academies et des Arts. (Heads up: website has music).
Website for Jerome Mesnager. (Music again).