Hôtel de Soubise, June 2010

15 June 2010

The beautiful Hôtel de Soubise at 60 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois. It was built by the Prince and Princesse de Soubise, with work starting in 1704 after the Prince had bought the site of the former Hôtel de Guise in 1700, probably using money squirrelled away by Madame la Princesse during her tenure as mistress of Louis XIV.

The gorgeous Hôtel is a masterpiece of early eighteenth century architecture and is probably one of the most magnificent and beautiful buildings in Paris with a serene and balanced main building fronted by two semi circular wings lined with pillars. It doesn’t take much imagination to catch the shades of the beautiful Princesse riding through the huge gate in her carriage and alighting in front of her exquisite house.

Inside, the rooms remain much as they always were, complete with their original features and ornate gilt painted panelling. It really is heavenly to stroll through the airy, bright rooms and imagine them as they used to be in the eighteenth century.

I love the muted, tasteful grey of this room.

A beautiful view across the courtyard.

I love taking photographs from windows. You often get the most beautiful views – this one is from one of the tall windows of the Princesse de Soubise’s magnificent crimson and gold bedroom. A room that seems designed more for a King than his exquisite mistress.

Possibly the most gorgeous room is the Princesse’s lovely pale blue, white and gold boudoir, where she would have relaxed with friends, perused the latest fashions or even entertained lovers. It is said that the Princesse was one of the most beautiful women at Louis XIV’s court, famed for her pale complexion and lovely red ringletted hair. She was rumoured to maintain her looks and slim figure with a strict diet of chicken and salad, consumed with water or milk.

The story goes that the beautiful Princesse and Louis XIV became lovers at the Château de Chambord while he was wavering between Louise de la Vallière and Athénaïs de Montespan. The Princesse would put on a pair of emerald earrings as a signal to Louis that her husband was out of the way.

The Princesse’s private bedchamber, where she could retire on her own to rest during the day. Having two bedrooms was a common occurance in a period when the nobility were in the habit of having a ‘state’ going to bed and also receiving visitors in their official bedchambers, which were therefore decorated rather like drawing rooms in an uncomfortable and unrelaxing grandiose style.