By Jennifer Cuminale
“The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American. It is more fun for an intelligent person to live in an intelligent country. France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older–intelligence and good manners.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald
From Friday, June 15th, to Sunday, June 17th, the Young Patrons of the American Friends of the Louvre embarked on its inaugural trip to Paris and Reims. Patricia Kim, Director of Development for the American Friends of the Louvre, escorted attenting members: Farhana Ahmed, Alice Berman, Liddy Berman, Jennifer Cuminale, Anne de la Guéronnière, Miranda Guo, Elizabeth Kosich, Meghan Thrash, David Chines, Daniel Colon, and Charles Darling V, through Paris.
Friday, June 15
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
1 Place des Droits-de-l’Homme
The weekend began with a day visit from Paris to Reims to the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne estates. Upon arrival in Reims, the Young Patrons were privately guided through the cellars (caves) and chalk mines (crayères) located just outside of the center of the city. While exploring the network of caves and alleys that make up the cellars, we learned all the secrets of how champagne is produced. The visit was followed by a champagne tasting of the most recent vintage of La Grand Dame (2004).
The Young Patrons then headed to the Hôtel du Marc, a private mansion built in the neoclassical style and located in the center of Reims. The mansion has been in the Veuve Clicquot family since 1840 and serves as living quarters for special guests of the prestigious brand. The estate has five rooms that can be reserved only by invitation, each decorated to perfection in the theme of different geographic regions and seasons. All rooms were appointed with specially curated art objects. Bruno Moinard, the creative force behind Cartier and Hermès boutiques, recently restored the residence to its former glory. The group received a tour of the premises before enjoying lunch with the Veuve Clicquot Director of Communications, Stephan Gerschel, in the estate’s private dining room.
Palais du Tau
2 Place du Cardinal Luçon
Before leaving Reims, the Young Patrons visited the two most important historical sites in the city. The tour began with the famous Cathedral, the jewel of 13th-century architecture and church where the Kings and Queens of France were once crowned. Highlights included the Cathedral’s famous stained glass windows, including those created by Marc Chagall in 1974. The Young Patrons were also met by the new director of the museum and given a guided tour of the Palais du Tau, the palace of the Archbishop of Reims, where the Kings of France resided before their coronations. The director unveiled the Reliquaire de la Sainte Ampoule in the confines of a small gallery safe, which was last used in an 18th century coronation and is rarely taken out of its secure enclosure.
Place des Etats-Unis
Upon returning to Paris, members were invited for private cocktails at the Galerie-Musée Baccarat. This gallery features stunning examples of vases and objects in crystal created by the Maison Baccarat. We had the opportunity to see special commissions from kings and emperors from around the world, as well as learn about the savoir-faire of the artisans who have elevated this technique to new heights. Members also had private access to the Baccart jewelry boutique and the opportunity to personally shop with brand specialists.
Fauchon Paris, Le Café
30 Place de la Madeleine
After the reception at the Galerie-Musée Baccarat, we enjoyed an apéritif and dinner in the stylish second floor restaurant at Fauchon Paris, Le Café, located at the Place de la Madeleine.
Saturday, June 16
Saturday morning, we explored the Musée du Louvre‘s vast holdings of artistic treasures. In addition to the major highlights, the tour focused on the Louvre’s many contemporary art projects including the permanent decoration in the Ancient Bronze Gallery by the late Cy Twombly, as well as the most recent Gothic-inspired installation of laser-cut steel sculpture spires by the Belgian artist, Wim Delvoye, in the Museum’s entrance pyramid. We then strolled through the Tuileries Garden in the company of Pierre Bonnaure, the Chief Gardener. Monsieur Bonnaure retraced the history of this royal garden and lead us through the numerous alleys and meadows designed by André Le Nôtre during the 17th century. Lastly, we viewed both ancient and modern sculptures that are currently exhibited in the garden due to the recent acquisition of the gardens by the Louvre in 2005.
Jardin des Tuileries
After our morning tour of the Louvre and Tuileries Garden, we stopped for lunch at Café Reale to enjoy a light déjeuner and spectacular views of the garden.
Foundation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint Laurent
3 rue Léonce Reynaud
After lunch, we made our way to the Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent where members were given special access to the Foundation’s archives. This rare opporuntiy to visit the conservation areas, which are not open to the public, gave the group the privilege of seeing highlights of the more than 5,000 garments, 1,000 rive gauche models, 15,000 accessories, and 35,000 sketches that bear witness to Yves Saint Laurent’s prodigious creativity. The group was also privately toured through the designer’s personal studio and had a playful introduction to Yves Saint Laurent’s former French bulldog, Moujik IV.
Cercle de l’Union Interalliée
33 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
The day concluded with dinner in the private salon of the Cercle de l’Union Interalliée, an exclusive club founded in 1917. Over the years, the Club’s members, from all over the world have included prominent politicians, businessmen, and academics. The Young Patrons enjoyed an aperitif on the terrace, overlooking the luscious garden of the hôtel Henri de Rothschild, known as one of the most stunning private mansions in Paris. We then adjourned to the private Salon Duc de Luynes for a three-course dinner.
Sunday, June 17
62 rue de Lillee
Sunday began with a pleasant walk across the Pont Royal to the Left Bank to the Musée d’Orsay. Housed in a former train station built in the Beaux-Arts style, the museum houses renowned works created between 1848 and 1914, including masterpieces by Impressionists and post-Impressionists. The Young Patrons were welcomed to the Museum by members of the American Friends of the Musée d’Orsay’s Avant Garde group. We enjoyed brunch together in the beautiful Petit Salon restaurant at the top floor of the Museum, registered as a Historic Monument by the French state and recently restored by Jean-Michael Wilmotte. We were joined by Guillaume Faroult, curator of American and British paintings at the Musée du Louvre, and Christpohe Leribault, curator of drawings at the Louvre and director of the Delacroix Museum (under management by the Louvre).
Following lunch, members were invited to tour the Museum on their own. Not to be missed, of course, were the newly renovated Impressionist galleries, where members rediscovered works by Cézanne, Manet, Degas, and others in a new light, and the Pavillon d’Amont, a new five-story building, which houses paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the early 20th century.
15 Place Vendôme
After our afternooon at the Musée d’Orsay, we crossed the Seine River again and headed toward the Place Vendôme.
We concluded the first Young Patrons Circle trip to Paris in style at the Ritz Paris where we were invited for a private tea and reception in the beautiful Windsor Suite by Christian Boyens, the General Manager. The suit was designed for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and still retains the original furniture and artwork that the couple maintained while keeping residence. Following our tea, the group was given a tour through the hotel. Highlights included viewing the legendary kitchen and spa, and ended with a champagne toast in the hotel’s magnificent private outdoor courtyard. This legendary hotel has been home to the likes of Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway, and is synonymous with luxury and prestige. In August 2012, the Ritz Paris will close its doors–for the first time since its inauguration in 1898–for two years to undergo a complete renovation. We were among the last guests to enjoy the ritzy amosphere of the Bar Vendôme.