A Modern Day Homage to the Artistic History of One of Paris’ Storied Neighborhoods
Imagine a narrow street on Paris’ left bank that transplants you back to the turn of the 20th century when artists like Paul Gauguin and Amedeo Modigliani studied at the famed Academie de La Grand Chaumière art school and traded drawings at the local bistro to cover their lunch tabs. Now fast forward a century and witness the romance of that street still alive and flourishing thanks to Laurent and Charlotte Inchauspé’s vision that is Hotel des Académies et des Arts.
After careers in the entertainment business, he funded independent French films and she a local TV producer, the young French couple decided to pursue their passion for hotels and a new beginning. This took them on an exhaustive two year search for the perfect location to carry out their vision, finally culminating in finding the “perfect” building at 15 Rue de La Grand Chaumière – directly across from Le Académie, where coincidentally Charlotte’s mother also studied. The couple was integral to the $2 million project which transformed the former rundown building into a beautiful masterpiece that exudes character, charm and comfort. Charlotte put her creative talents to excellent use designing the interiors of the hotel with classical shapes but with modern materials, while Laurent put his business school background to use organizing the operations.
The resulting “Tour de Force” is a cool and chic 20-room boutique hotel in Paris’ 6th Arr., located just a short walk from the Jardin de Luxembourg and other main attractions such as Saint-Germain-des-Pres and The Louvre. The five-story hotel pays homage to the artistic heritage of its neighborhood (and building) by acting as a canvas for three different types of modern art including painting, sculpture and video art. Their idea was to create an original backdrop for contemporary works of art. Most prominent throughout the hotel from the moment you step up to the building is the work of well known street-artist Jerome Mesnager whose famous “white-bodies” have appeared across the globe from the Great Wall of China to Red Square. Mesnager was given carte blanche to pursue his vision for the hotel. He painted a distinct, jointed white body in each of the 20 guest rooms using the wallpaper as his canvas, as well as in the lobby and other locations throughout the hotel including a 50-foot body on the exterior of the building.
Coincidentally, Charlotte’s mother Sophie de Watrigant, who attended Le Académie also worked with white body sculptures and quickly incorporated them into the hotel’s design to make up the second form of art on display. The little white men can be seen hanging from the staircase running throughout the five-story building as well as scattered across the public areas weaving the artistic influence into every nook. The third type of modern art, the Inchauspés incorporated into their masterpiece was to bring the “et des Arts” part of the name to life, in Video Art. The dedicated video art screening room off of the lobby, where guests may eat breakfast or take their afternoon tea, plays various video art installations including a documentary on Mesnager’s project with the property.
With five stories and twenty rooms, the four rooms per floor feature three different interior design styles or “atmospheres’ as the hotel refers to them. Each of the rooms, whether Room Parisienne, Room Comédienne, Room Man Ray or Room Ruhlmann evoke a period in Paris’ history and give guests a style to choose that fits their personality and mood. Regardless of the style, the Inchauspés worked diligently to maximize all of the available space in the rooms, which range in size from 150 – 200 square feet, ensuring each is comfortable and functional. All of the rooms, which are non-smoking, feature a flat panel TV with music and video on demand, individual air conditioning and heating controls, mini-bar, high speed internet (including free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel) and an electronic safe. The bathrooms boast bathtubs and/or stand-up showers depending on the room, however all have natural daylight which gives them a feeling of openness.
After a refreshing night’s sleep in one of the twenty rooms, guest may enjoy a continental breakfast of fresh fruit and pastries, along with fresh juices, in one of three rooms off of the lobby: the library, Le Petit Bistro or the screening room. Although delicious, the highlight of Hotel des Académies’ food and beverage offerings is their new tea salon. Chez Charlotte is an intimate and gourmet tea room dedicated to serving the highest quality tea and pastries to a sophisticated clientele of both local Parisians and international visitors. Chez Charlotte serves a wide selection of gourmet teas from Le Palais des Thés, the foremost tea purveyor throughout Europe. With over a dozen teas from around the globe, guests can savor the flavors of varieties such as The du Tigre, which is a Taiwanese smoked tea, or Fleur de Geisha, a tea inspired by the Japanese Hanami tradition of viewing cherry trees in blossom.
The highlight of the tea service however is the selection of Macarons from celebrated French Pastry Chef Pierre Hermé that accompany the herbal libations. Hermé, known across the globe, has retail shops in both Saint-Germain-des-Pres and Tokyo, but Hotel des Académies et des Arts is the only hotel to exclusively serve them. With a thin, crisp shell, circular in shape and slightly rounded, Hermé’s Macarones appear in a rainbow of colors like jewels on their plate. Mirroring the creative talents of the other artists that have contributed to the hotel, Hermé has created Macarons made of Balsamic vinegar, white truffles with grilled hazel nuts; chocolate; wild roses with fig; as well as black truffle.
As if the Macarons aren’t enough pampering and indulgence, the hotel boasts a wellness room offering guests a variety of full service, therapeutic treatments. Hotel des Académies et des Arts is like Laurent and Charlotte Inchauspé’s child and second home all in one. They take care of it with incredible attention and care, but welcome people from all over the world with open arms as if they are their personal guests.
Hotel des Académies et des Arts is sight to see within itself, but a perfect base from which to see all of the others Paris has to offer. Rates start at 179 Euros per night and reservations may be made by visiting www.hoteldesacademies.com