New Girls’ Guide to Paris Article: Hotel des Academies et des Arts

The lobby of the Hotel des Academies et des Arts

Hello hello,

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.”)

One of Jerome Mesnager's figures having fun

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.

The wellness room at the hotel

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!)

Front room at the Hotel des Academies et des Arts (lots of art books!)

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).

Tea Room. Though the white figures on the ladder may seem reminiscent of Mesnager's work, they are actually the creations of Charlotte's mother! A real family affair.

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.

Jerome Mesnager at the art academy across the street

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.

Hotel guests get complimentary Pierre Herme macarons delivered to their room each day. You don't have to be a guest to enjoy these treats, though. The hotel has a small tea room open to the public.

Charlotte's mother created other art works in the hotel

Facade of Hotel des Academies et des Arts

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).


9 Responses to “New Girls’ Guide to Paris Article: Hotel des Academies et des Arts”

  1. 3 Lee Isbell June 18, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Is that scary spiral staircase the only way to upper floors? Even if I weren’t too out-of-shape for the climb, I don’t think I’d make it over one level up. That aside, it looks lovely.


    • 4 paris (im)perfect June 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

      There’s an elevator, too, and it’s really cool! The artist drew his figures behind the wall of the elevator which has a glass wall so you can see. As you ride up and down, the figures seem to be moving!


  2. 5 Kristin Bair O'Keeffe June 18, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Beautiful! That staircase is amazing…love the art throughout the hotel & the fearlessness Laurent and Charlotte Inchauspé reveal in allowing the artist to create a unique space. (& congrats to you, Sion, for covering a story completely in French!)


    • 6 paris (im)perfect June 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks, Kristin! Yeah, I thought that was simply great how they just told the artist to do whatever he wanted. As Mesnager says, that vote of confidence brings out even better work. (And thanks. Feels pretty good when I have more measurable proof that my French is getting there!)


  3. 7 Stephanie June 18, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    So that’s who the artist is!! I have some pictures of his figures from wandering around Paris and was wondering… I know I’ve seen his work a few times throughout the city. Great post and right down my alley!! 🙂


  4. 8 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) June 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    How cool that you got to do this! Mesnager’s work is so iconic in the Bassin de la Villette and Belleville/Ménilmontant areas, I have always wanted to learn a bit more about him. I’d seen a report on this hotel before, but LOVE to know the “story behind the story.” This was, like you, my favorite part: “it was a real pleasure meeting people following their passion.” Yup. Oh I really do hope for you that you can find the other half to make up a dynamic duo. 🙂 Not that you need one. You are pretty darn dynamic all by yourself, m’dear.

    I’m going to go read the GG2P article now…

    Take care —


  5. 9 Vicki Archer July 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    It looks like a very cool hotel and in a great location….thanks for the tip….xv


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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