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Under the Renaissance charm at Hotel Da Vinci, Paris

editorial & arteditorial

2 December 2015
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I left the warm Nice for Paris. Da Vinci was waiting for me and, somehow, Mona Lisa whispered to me that I could find her somehow there, too. So, I thought this was meant for something beautiful to happen. And, it sure was!

Indeed, although Paris received me with warm sunny rays, degrees were little numbers comparing to what I knew in Nice. So, walking the St Germain des Pres streets was charming and a bit cold. All of the sudden on the 25 rue des Saints Peres, on a vintage green and welcoming door, I tried to find the entrance button when, all of the sudden, a cheerful lady welcomed me with open arms. From my first step into the lobby, the warmth of the place surrounded me and the glance of the fireplace just made my day. A very warm welcome I got from the entire team which I wish to thank: this is the cosy familiar feeling you are looking for when you want to accommodate into a Parisian boutique hotel. And, a charming one, most of all!

While doing all the preparations to enter the room, I could not take my eyes of that tiny but filled with charm lobby warmed up by the fireplace. Now I know that I plunged into a different era: Renaissance all over! Da Vinci's spirit was well kept alive and now I was eager to discover Mona Lisa, too. But stay still! The best is yet to come! Beautiful rooms were about to get revealed and every one of them kept its own charm and beauty. And this, thanks to the attention to detail given by the decorators Luana Bellusci, Sandrine Gouin and the architect Vincent Bastie.

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I got Lorenzo Il Magnifico room with The Madonna of the Carnation fresco on the bed wall, image from a Renaissance work of art made by Leonardo Da Vinci, with Venetian mirrors and white rustic beamed ceilings. Dim light and dreamy elements spilled the magic into the room. Not to forget about the champaign and a little word that was expecting me in the room to embellish the welcome.

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The tour of the hotel did not do anything more but to strengthen my first impression: charm and magic all around!  The 24 rooms fill their space around history and charge themselves with the perfume of symbolic characters like Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raffaello and Catherine de Medici. The frescoes with the technical drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci make the signature of the hotel. The frescoes from the head of the bed are reminiscent of those of the artist's best known paintings. Everywhere is art and invention!

It is around the mystery of Mona Lisa robbery that the hotel created its legend. Back in 1911, Mona Lisa painting was stolen from Louvre Museum by a certain Vincenzo Peruggia who rented a room at the top floor (just in case he was sought by police to be able to run on the Parisian roofs). So, the room in which the robber is said to have stayed is now called L'Adorateur. It has Mona Lisa painting as if it was hidden in a vintage box or even more anecdotic it has an empty frame above the bed reminding of the well known painting. Kind of funny in a way, it makes you feel like you're some kind part of the robbery. You feel the value of the painting, it is right in that box or even you want to start to find all its codes and reveal them. But, instead, you just take a look on the windows, maybe police is right on that corner, you feel the urge to mount on the balcony and see the roofs. Then, you realize you are in Paris ... on the Parisian roofs. You take a breath and enjoy the view ...

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It is good to know, though, that the painting was recovered two years afterwards and Vincenzo Peruggia made only one year of prison as his action was thought to have more of a patriotic character. He sustained the idea of getting back the work of art to the country where it belonged. He said the painting was stolen by Bonaparte and that it needed to get back to its country. In 1914, Mona Lisa made her permanent residence at the Louvre Museum in Paris.  

And Mona Lisa had to have a room of her own, with a more feminine side. With the lines in the spirit of Leonardo Da Vinci and a private little green terrace like an oasis of quietness within the legend that you are living right in your room. You can feel everything and enjoy the wonderful energy. I needed to sit on that big armchair and to look at the entire room with gratitude ... and also, with the smile for the photo and the beau souvenir!

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Leonardo Da Vinci is everywhere! You can feel his genius and relive part of his art just by looking around you. Every detail is well thought just to convey a message and to take you somewhere to another time, to another epoch. It's simply charming! You feel like you want to look at every detail and study it as to get to know it better, to be part of a great adventure of discovery and inventions as Da Vinci did. Even the elevator has one wall filled with Leonardo's graphics so we can take a quick glimpse at his ideas while going up or down.

I got back to my room and plunged into the soft bed sheets. Let's sip some more champaign and enjoy the ride! Time for lunch! So, I wanted to keep that historical and legendary charm alive so I chose Le Procope restaurant, founded in 1686, just 10 minutes walk from the hotel. A historical place where art and literature meet! Important personalities like Diderot, Benjamin Franklin, Rousseau, Voltaire used to frequent the place. For this, the paintings, the letters, the decrees or historical objects all along the restaurant stand as witnesses. A traditional restaurant where the coq I served was marinated in wine for mostly seven hours before being served from the pot just like in 1686. As for desert, tiramisu was very tasty and I could quench my thirst only with a Beaujolais Nouveau. Excellent!

The restaurant is right in the center of St Germain des Pres, an elegant neighbourhood filled with literary and historical energy. Cafe de Flore was the place where Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir made their literary office! I needed to feel this world that floated in the air on every corner! It had a sort of that odd appeal that made me want to be part of that epoch, too.

Everywhere you look you see beautiful Parisians enjoying life with their joie de vivre. All the restaurants are full, the terraces, the wine is on the table, the smile is polite and the conversations are like light idea exchanging ...

Every boutique has a considerate care of its own look, a major importance for every detail and the style it owns. In every boutique you can discover something, learn something or buy something to never forget. And this is part of the Parisian magic!

Time to get that Da Vinci coffee back to hotel or maybe benefit from the brunch offer. Cafe Da Vinci reminds me of the Venetian Cafe Florian from Place St Marc. Everything is thought in the same details and decoration, even for the espresso machine. You can drink your coffee on the little green terrace in the back that has a sort of a nature escape feel right within the city.

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Hotel Da Vinci proposes everyday a Brunch & Plunge escapade. You can start by a glass of champagne or fresh juice, charcuterie and viennoiserie pastries. As for the plunging, the jump into the bubbling pool would make your day. Just like I did! Decorated in the colours of Gioconda with mosaic tiles and lights like stars, ambient music and a perfect water temperature - what else could you ask from a Parisian afternoon in one of the most beautiful neighbourhood of the capital and one of the most charming hotel in the center of Paris?!

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And back to the beautiful fireplace that creates that cosy ambiance! One more photo with the amazing team and off we go! That was a great stay to remember! Perfect for plunging into a Renaissance epoch where every detail was thought as to make me feel I was living that time with Leonardo Da Vinci winking from the paintings in a joyful way! Next time, I will search for more clues on the Mona Lisa robbery on the room of L'Adorateur or maybe get more creative in the Mona Lisa room!

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Hotel Da Vinci - 25 Rue de Saint Peres, Paris

Editor Andra Oprea