|The discreet entrance to Galerie Huit.|
As I said several days ago, as a gift for my birthday in late April, she gave me a four day trip to Provence — just the two of us. She found an exquisite B&B in Arles. Curiously perhaps, I have never stayed in a B&B and I suspect this one, Galerie Huit, a 17th century maison particulière in the heart of the city, is a rare, exquisite gem among its peers.
|The sitting area in our suite.|
|The bed was divided into twin beds for Andrea and me. Behind those armoire doors is the toilet.|
|Another view of our room. Behind those doors is the bathroom with a luxurious shower|
|The bathroom. Note the size of the shower head.|
The châtelaine, Julia de Bierre, English, stunning, exotic, cultured, generous, fascinating. . . I could go on, but you get the idea. . . is more of a hostess welcoming guests into her home than the proprietress of a B&B. She shared breakfast with us, more of a brunch really, and every evening a perfectly chilled rosé and lovely crystal glasses were set out on a tray for cocktails in the salon.
|The salon where we had cocktails the first night.|
Her home, completely renovated, decorated and “modernized” as in all the accommodations one would expect are not only perfect, but also beautiful, is another testimony to her creative aesthetic. The main raison d’etre of Galerie Huit is, as the name implies, her gallery and often she has an artist in residence. When we were there a sculptor and his assistant were staying with her.
|A view of the kitchen.|
Once again, this experience reminded me why I so love living in France. One evening Julia threw a small cocktail party. We were about 12, all seated around the large table in her kitchen sipping rosé, nibbling on tapenade, olives and various other delights when Drea and I realized we were being swept up into one of those marvelous evenings when the conversation seems to emanate from some splendid Henry James or Edith Wharton novel.
Among the guests were a lawyer, the above mentioned sculptor and his assistant, a painter, the director of a major museum, and two women visiting from Paris. The conversation featured observations on the latest expositions, we were told we were “required” to see the Rodin exposition in Arles (we did), the discovery of a yet to be authenticated bust of Caesar found in the Rhone, but undoubtedly sculpted somewhere around 46 B.C., two years before his assassination, French archeologists believe. We saw his handsome head in the museum that housed the Rodin show.
From there we talked about books, films, designers, travel and, since we’re in France, politics — mainly about the disgraced budget minister who lied about the millions of Euros he had stashed in a Swiss bank. No one really cared, neither about the money nor the lie. As the lawyer pointed out, “all politicians lie. If they told the truth instead of what people want to hear they’d never get elected.”
Another major highlight of our trip was meeting the lovely Heather Robinson, brilliant creator of the Lost in Arles blog. Heather insisted we rent a car and drive through the countryside and when she sent recommendations for B&Bs, Galerie Huit was at the top of her list. She and Julia are friends. She was right about everything. I’m hoping this will be the beginning of a lasting friendship.