Monday, September 29, 2008

Group Sibuet - Romantic French Hotels- Part 2


Jocelyn and Jean Louis Sibuets latest hotel venture is the Villa Marie located in the mountains right above St. Tropez, France.  The original hotel located on the property was a run down wreck when the Sibuets purchased the complex.  As always, Jean Louis was in charge of the renovations, while Jocelyn took care of the decorating and today the once run down hotel is now rated first class.  Nestled in the pine tree hills above the coast, the hotel is perfect for those who want to be near the bustling tourist area, but  crave a more private base  away from the crowds.  The hotel, located in the quaint area of Ramatuelle, overlooks the Baie de Pampelonne, and is a quick mile away from the playground of  hip Saint-Tropez.  Movie stars and socialites are flocking to the four year old Villa Marie for its quiet seclusion and very romantic atmosphere.

Among the changes made to the hotel by Jean Louis is a restaurant and a bar area.  He also created an outdoor dining terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean.  A swimming pool was built, fashioned out of the rocky hillside.  The guest rooms were knocked down to their studs and rebuilt with a most unique floorplan:  the bathroom is exposed and is the first area encountered when entering the room, the bedroom area is next leading to a private balcony in most rooms.  Each guest room has unique furnishings  - no two rooms are alike.   Jocelyne, famous for her keen design sense, does not disappoint here.    The hotel is quaint, the grounds are gorgeous.  The Sibuets have planted thousands of trees to add to the lush Provencal style landscaping.  Rows of lavender line the gravel drive leading into the hotel and hydrangeas are planted throughout the property.  Cacti and other succulents are also plentiful.  The hotel boasts a spa with two log cabins built in the pine woods for more private treatment rooms.

The food is excellent, though quite expensive, as each review I read made a point of saying.  A single bottle of water is 10 euros - and this was taken from a two year old review!!!!  The staff  gets consistently rave reviews for friendliness and attentiveness.   Reviewers state that the hotel looks as great in person as on the web site, something that isn't always the case.  A four star rated hotel, this one is another hit for the Group Sibuet and it looks absolutely wonderful to me!



Jocelyne Sibuet, Hotel Villa Marie owner and interior designer.



The main building is an ochre colored stucco.  The garden paths surrounding the hotel are gravel.  The complex sits in a pine forest, though the Sibuets have planted thousands of trees of different varieties.



The same view, at dusk, where votives in lanterns light the paths.  Notice the beautiful iron balconies and the terra cotta roof.



At at night, fully lighted and so romantic.



Stacked limestone was used for the retaining walls, adding to the French Provencal charm.  Huge pine trees and cypress dot the landscape.




The view of the ocean from the swimming pool.




One side of the swimming pool was carved out of the rock. 



The other side is a wooden deck.



Outside dining overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean.



Another outside dining spot amid the lavender and cypress trees.  The bright stucco hotel can be seen in the background.  So Provencal!



A greenhouse added next to the main hotel is stocked with various succulents.



Fresh towels delivered to rooms next to a unique fountain in the gardens.




Jean Louis built the bar with glass walls that open to the fresh air.  Seagrass furniture with white cushions and turquoise pillows complete the decor.  This room was designed to simulate the feel of being on a boat at sea, as the bar overlooks the ocean.



Jean Louis decorated the bar with shells placed one by one by hand.




The dining room is also a new building added to the complex by Jean Louis.   Notice the iron dining room chairs used here.  They are very vintage and romantic in feel.



A corner of the dining room, overlooking the grounds. 



Jean Louis designed this terrace adjoining the dining room for outdoor meals.  Lanterns provide soft lighting.  The food gets excellent ratings at the hotel, the prices do not!



The Spa.  Besides these treatment rooms, additional rooms are located in the woods in newly built log cabins.  Again, vintage style iron furniture mixed with Louis XV chairs, lend a decidedly romantic feel to the decor. 



Dining on the arched terrace.  I love this outdoor furniture - it also looks vintage.  Pots of hydrangeas line the half walls.  Wisteria hangs from the roof.  The tiled floor is terra cotta.



A close up of the hydrangea plants that are growing throughout the property.  Notice the lovely opaque blue plates that this table is set with.  Just beautiful!



The arched stucco walkway leads to the lobby and main living areas of the hotel. 



The main living area is furnished with an Italian styled tete-a-tete and banquettes.  Notice the beautiful armoire doors built into the walls.  The black wood mantel is decorated with shells and sea fans.  To the right is the open aired dining area. 



A view of the opposite side of the open air lobby.




A vignette that Jocelyne is famous for.  Here shell filled urns sit next to coral.  I love the way the lantern is placed leaning against the wall. 




Another vignette in the lobby area.  A large shell encrusted mirror sits behind two caned French chairs. 



And another vignette, this time a large console is set with shells inside glass apothecary jars. 



More hydrangeas.  Notice the iron balconies and the lanterns on the wall behind. 




Each of the 42 guest rooms are decorated differently.  Here bright red and white striped fabric was used.  In most of the rooms, the bathroom walls were removed and they were left open to the sleeping area.  Additionally, balconies were added to many rooms.




In this room, an iron four poster bed was used.  Again, the bathtub is open to the bedroom, partially closed off by linen curtains.



This room was decorated using hydrangea inspired colors.  Though the headboard looks as if it was created out of molding nailed to the walls - a great idea to incorporate in one's own home - it's wood is actually painted the same color as the walls.




The other side of the hydrangea colored guest room.  Notice the beautifully carved crown molding. 



This guest room was decorated using pale blue striped fabric.  In many rooms the lamps were created out of urns.



More vintage inspired iron furniture used in one of the guest rooms.




This guest room has an iron four poster dressed in white linens.  A patterned fabric was used for the curtains.  An antique drop leaf desk doubles as a night stand.



Vessels sinks were used in this bath area.   The small pendant lights are adorable!



A deep blue color was used in this room along with purple.  An antique console doubles as a night stand in this guest room.



A close up of the free standing tub in the middle of this guest room.  All toilets are actually behind closed doors for privacy.  Whew!  I was worried about that!!!!



And one final guest room - here you can see the wonderful terra cotta tiled floors that are used in many of the rooms.  Seagrass rugs are placed underneath the beds only. 




A map showing the proximity of the Villa Marie to St. Tropez.


Question:  How would you feel about a guest room with the bathroom exposed as these are here?  Would it matter to you?  Would you be comfortable in such a room?  Is this something that Europeans are more acclimated to than Westerners?    I think that, for myself, I would prefer to have a closed bathtub (and a shower at that!)  Even sharing the room with just my husband, I'm not sure I'm all that ready to watch him bathe and vice versa! 

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Fabulous Flea

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The Fabulous Flea:  French antiques on Bammel Lane in Houston


Everyone loves their home, that goes without saying.  Your home is a reflection of who you are, what your style is, what colors you like, what kind of furniture you are drawn to.   Your home is your refuge, your safe place, the one spot you can go to and be with your family and feel contented, protected, and sheltered against the world.      We make our homes our nests and we're happy there.  But......(of course there is a but!) have you ever been  inside someone else's home and felt a pang of longing and desire, a thought that says "gosh, I could live here and be very happy, in fact I WANT to live here!"    And still more, "Gee, she's talented! What great taste she has.  Why haven't I ever done anything as stylish as she has?"   It's not a jealousy, it's an appreciation of beauty (ok, maybe it IS a jealousy - I'll be honest!)   And then, after your visit to this fabulous house, you go home, to your own beloved house that you've worked so hard on and fretted over, that you've designed and furnished .........and you think........"is there a gun anywhere?   I want to shoot myself!" 


I had just that feeling today while out antiquing.   A glimpse into another home, another style, another design aesthetic that gave me pause and made me think:      " hmmm.....can I please start all over again?"   Mary Daly lives in just that home, a wonderful resort inside the city limits, an architectural gem of a place, designed and built by none other than Houston great and legend Kurt Aichler.   I've yet to see an Aichler home that I haven't loved and this one certainly didn't disappoint.


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Isn't this the cutest license plate?


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Even the delivery  truck is cute!


So, why was I torturing myself at Mary Daly's house today?     Mary is an antique dealer.  She goes to Paris several times a year to meet up with her partner Pat  Sadoux, Ohio born, but for the past 45 years, a French wife and mother.  Together Mary and Pat scour the countryside of the south of France and the flea markets of Paris, and just about everywhere in between to gather up a unique assortment of antiques:  some refined, some more rustic, some just fun, but all wonderful.   The business is called the Fabulous Flea and for a few years they showed their wares at Antiques and Interiors on  Dunlavy.  That was until there was turn of events:   Mary's elderly next door neighbors moved out and the Daly's purchased their lot.  At that point, Aichler was again recruited  to design a guest house and an outside entertaining pavilion along with a pool.  The  newly built guest house now houses the Fabulous Flea and fabulous it is.  One day, when Mary and Pat are through with the antique grind, the Dalys will turn the shop into a either an apartment for their children, or a place for their guests -  whomever needs it first.


So, today, I found myself shopping at the Fabulous Flea as  Mary and Pat were showing their new shipment before they pack it all up this weekend for Round Top, the Texas antique fair.  If you are going to Round Top, be sure to visit the Fabulous Flea.  They'll be in Marburger Farms, September 30 through October 4th, Tent B Row b6.  But, be sure to get there early - things tend to sell out fast.    If you can't make it to Marburger, call Mary for an appointment in Houston when she gets back home.   And if you don't live in Houston, enjoy these pictures and shop from their web site


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The compound:  On the left is the Daly house:  The front door is through the arch.  On the right is the guest house aka The Fabulous Flea.  Behind the stucco wall is the garden, swimming pool, and outdoor pavilion.  This wonderful compound was designed and built by Kurt Aichler.


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Close up of the guest house aka The Fabulous Flea.  You can enter the Fabulous Flea through either the "front door" under the awning, or through the carriage doors on the right.


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A lantern hangs next to the Fab Flea's front door.   Vintage theatre seats, slipcovered in linen sit outside along with other items. 


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I went in through the carriage doors.   Be sure to notice the doors - large and arched, with handsome hardware, they open in the middle. 


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The view going in through the carriage doors to the first room.


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One of two large rooms filled with  newly arrived purchases from France.  Along the back door behind the bookcase is a smaller pair of carriage doors that lead to the back garden. 


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Matching lanterns in two sizes. 


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This Swedish demi lune is one of a pair - they can be used as consoles or together as a table. 



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A beautiful, painted armoire.


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An extra large,  antique buffet, laden with  books and small, iron planters.  Slipcovered stools are underneath.


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Across the back carriage door, an assortment of furniture.


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Hanging are a pair of black pendant lights.


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Looking from the  first room  into the second - notice the paneled doors that lead into the next area.


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The large, second room, with an assortment of French antiques and accessories. 


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A Charles V settee sits against the window over looking the garden and the main house.    You can just make out the antique door that leads into the house.   


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Through these doors, lined up on an axis, is the outdoor pavilion. 



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I loved this table, but it was already sold. 



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Everywhere are beautiful vignettes.  Here a painted chest with mirror and flanking sconces.


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An arched window sits next to a French chaise.   The metal display case holds jewelry and silver utensils. 


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A hanging, painted console with mirror, one of a pair.   Reflected in the mirror is more merchandise.


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And looking back into the first room, a pair of standing lamps flank the large doors.  Be sure to notice the hardware on the doors and the ceiling height  in the first room.  Beautiful!


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OK!  Enough shopping!  I want to go see the backyard!  Here, outside the double doors is the path back  into the Fab Flea.  You can see Mary on the left, and Moi on the right, unfashionably still in white linen.  Mary and Pat refused to have their pictures taken for some reason odd reason - they both looked adorable I thought!    Be sure to notice the pathways lined in pavers against gravel. 


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The outdoor pavilion over looking the pool and the main house.  The large arched building has an outdoor kitchen, dining area, and seating area.   Large lanterns flank the arches.  Through the arches on the opposite side  is a large courtyard.  To the right of this building is the Fab Flea. 


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Inside the seating area.  Notice the beautiful ceiling.  To the left is the pool and  main house, to the right is the courtyard area. 



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Close up of the fireplace.  I love the stacked wood on each side.   The horns above are just perfect for the space.  Isn't this wonderful?


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The eating area.  Through the opening is  the door to the Fab Flea.



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The view from the outdoor pavilion looking across the swimming pool into the main house.   Before the Daly's neighbor's sold their lot, the fence between their two properties was right at the edge of the swimming pool.  Hard to imagine now!    The pool, the outdoor pavilion, the Fab Flea guest house, and the courtyard area were all conceived by Aichler who designed and built the house and the additions.    




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Going back into the Fabulous Flea through the back carriage doors in the first room.  Mary's beautiful daughter, Grace, is there to help.  



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Inside the same door, looking out to the courtyard.  To the left of the courtyard you can just make out the outdoor pavilion.  The paths around the courtyard are gravel.



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The very friendly and sweet Gracie, helping her mom and Pat at work.    Gracie is enjoying her second week off from school due to Hurricane Ike, Monday will be her first day back.   The Dalys also have an teenage son. 


So, where's the main house?   Well, Mary gave me a tour of her house, and I was afraid of being too pushy and obnoxious, so I didn't dare even ask for pictures.  Suffice it to say, the house is beautiful -  understated and elegant at the same time.  The wood  floors are bleached, the walls are white stucco.  The interior is all linen and slipcovers with seagrass rugs, so you can imagine how much in heaven I was.  The details of the house are magnificent - the baseboards for example, I've never seen such wonderful baseboards!  The kitchen, well  - to die for.  The house is casual and comfortable, the rooms are human sized, not over scaled.  The ceilings are high and some are paneled.   Mary says that the more time she spends in France, the more she wants to edit, but surely she must know, that her house is already wonderfully edited.   Of course Mary was gracious and humble, but truly, I was overwhelmed by how perfect the house is.  I could have asked for the keys and moved in there today and never looked back on my own house.....eekkk!!!!  I have to go BACK there to live  forever??????  NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!    This feeling rarely happens, I don't usually fall so in love with a house, but I promise you, you would have too.   The Daly's house hasn't been published yet, but, not that they haven't been asked.  Hopefully, it will be soon and then you will get to experience it firsthand too. 


I had such a great time today with Mary and Pat and Gracie.  They were wonderful hosts and eager to hear all about blogging and such.    Since I wasn't given the keys to the house, I did want to take a piece of it home with me to remember the day.  So, what did I choose?  Can you guess?  It's something  in the picture below.


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If you are going to Round Top, be sure to stop by the Fabulous Flea at Marburger, September 30 through October 4th, Tent B Row b6.  Otherwise, contact Mary for an appointment at the Fab Flea in Houston.    And also, be sure to peruse the web site for information and prices of the items shown here: