If you happen to spend two days in Paris and sick and tired of the Avenue Montaigne circuit, why don't you take a dive for a change into SoPi the neighborhood of South Pigalle so nicknamed and preferred by Parisian Hipsters and BoBos (Bourgeois Bohemian) ? The reason is not only because the trendsetting stylish restaurants and fashionable boutiques which have recently opened in the area but mostly because if you truly wish to experience the sensual atmosphere of an old authentic Maison de Plaisir , you have now the perfect spot. Totally revamped by the renowned French interior designer Jaques Garcia,( Hotel Costes , La Mamounia) the now five stars luxury hotel is located at 10, rue de Bruxelles a few steps from the Legendary Moulin Rouge and at the foothills of a path that leads up to Sacre Coeur.
One you step into the entrance door from the sober XIX century building facade adorned by two french lanterns, a whole new world as presents itself at your feet.
From the luxurious Belle Epoque interiors upholstered Napoleon III red velvet and scented by jasmine candles the exquisite staff polished and uptight in daring smiles eager to please sets you in no time into this oasis of shade and bien-etre. Liane de Pougy, la Païva and , or la Castiglione , I am finally assigned after my arrival to La Belle Otero ( A courtisan maybe had my same eye colors?) a suite enclosing a comfortable walking closet in acacia wood and mirrors and small sitting room facing on each side 19th century voluptuous women on far too relaxed positions as if they were part of my personal entourage. Shimmering textiles and elegant trimmings from far away lands, Japan , India possibly China, conceal from the window light possibly a certain nostalgia of an era where certain pleasures were still in disguise.
I am peaceful because without being trapped by the burden of a secret rendez-vous, I am allowing myself to commit solo if only for a few hours, to the wonderful and sexy bath tub surrounded by black marble and fresh Eau d' Oranges Vertes toiletries signed Hermes. On the phone I request an appointment after business hours with a masseuse and plan to discover the mysteries of the private access "salon d'eau' located at the maison basement with the hope of soon feeling regenerated from the five hours flight from Tel Aviv. I pick a robe, furtively double check with the young hipster butler-concierge f my dinner reservation at La brasserie is indeed confirmed at 930 PM at La Mascotte . Behind the tiny desk of the Orientalist Salon de Mil et Une Nuit adorned with wood inlays from Cordoba and exotic blue and white China, I am assured by a " Bien-sure Madame Maslaton" and head down in the elevator to surrender at last to pleasure without any further worries.
Under a cobalt blue sky painted with hundreds of golden stars I enter the pool fresh waters and experience the magic of such privacy with the self. I am now able to think about La Belle Otero who associated herself with the likes of Prince Albert I of Monaco, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, Kings of Serbia, and Kings of Spain as well as Russian Grand Dukes Peter and Nicholas, the Duke of Westminster and writer Gabriele D'Annunzio.
And while the expert hands of my Romanian masseuse touched every sensitive place of my skin, I can't help visualizing the multiple love affairs that made Otero infamous, and the envy of many other notable female personalities of the day. I read on the bathtub filled with bubbles that six men had reportedly committed suicide after their love affairs with Otero had ended, although this has never been substantiated beyond a doubt. It was a fact, however, that two men did fight a duel over her. After a wonderful almond oil scented massage I guess like me, the favorite courtisane might have felt pretty, confident, intelligent and well aware of her attractive figure.
Dinner at the legendary brasserie was great. A beautiful Brittany sole with lemon butter, steamed potatoes, Salade Verte vinaigrette Raw milk camembert, white table wine , cafe made me dive straight into into most comfortable cotton sheets in a sleep without dreams . The next day I would discover the Museum of Romantics , and superb house-museum and atelier of French symbolist painter Gustave Moreau who depicted more than once Salome in her Dance of the Seven Veils. I learn there that Christian traditions still depict Salome as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness, notably in regard to the dance mentioned in the New Testament, which is thought to have had an erotic element to it, and precursor in the period and to the emergence of striptease acts.
Refreshened and invigorated the pit stop in Paris plus a few sexy shopping bags I am now ready for my flight to new York. Yoni the owner invites me to visit the other two establishments of Maisons Particulieres featuring other aspects of Paris, but from the other side of the room, Salome and Otero with a clink of an eye make me realize that their smile is un-doubtively more captivating than La Gioconda's at the Louvre.
+33 (0)1 48 78 55 55
10, rue de Bruxelles 75009 Paris, France
Jaques Garcia : Interior Designer
Culture and Literary Rendez-Vous
Ito Isakaya: Japanese Tapas Bar a Parisian new Trend
L'Oef : Boutique Fashion