“Exhaust your pleasures, it is the only wisdom; Find each other, leave each other, go seeking in turns, Nothing is real, but dreams and love”
Anna de Noailles
Nestled in the heart of the Marais, Maison Proust will take you back to the lively spirit of Belle Epoque salons marvellously described in the writings of Marcel Proust.
Princess Mathilde, Sarah Bernhardt, Robert de Montesquiou, Jean Cocteau, Colette, Claude Monet, Charles Baudelaire… the personalities who inspired the characters in Remembrance of Things Past await in a fabulous decor filled with genuine paintings, period furniture and exclusive tapestries richly combined with great originality.
At the end of the 19th century, the purpose of salons was to bring together society people, artists, and writers for evenings that shone mostly depending on the fame of their guests. As Marcel Proust noted with great relish, their prestige also stemmed from the names of those who were not invited, be they bourgeois, Dreyfusards, crashing bores, or provincial.
Each salon had its own regulars, rules, and fascinations. The ladies who ran them, such as Geneviève Straus, whose salon was particularly illustrious, Madeleine Lemaire, to whom painters flocked, Countess Greffulhe or Princess Mathilda, all fought over the attendance of political dignitaries or literary and artistic prestige. These housemistresses governed a world of their own making, giving their opinion on the latest play and retorting to quips with spirit… which, according to Marcel Proust, was neither intelligence nor talent, but a disposition entirely possessed by Parisian women.
In the first part of his life, Marcel Proust was a frenetic attendant of Parisian salons. He went from suppers to theatre premieres, from musical to poetry evenings, at Madeleine Lemaire’s on Tuesdays, Léontine de Caillavet’s on Wednesdays, Robert de Montesquiou’s on Thursdays, Fridays at the Comédie-Française, and Saturdays at the Opera… An intense nightlife and social life from which he drew his inspiration.
The bar occupies the first salon. Seated by a monumental Atlas-held fireplace, cocooned between warm panelling and lush tapestries for a hushed exchange, this is the place to enjoy a cocktail or nibble delicate morsels and sweets… yet another way of prolonging an afternoon with the Duchess of Guermantes and Albertine in their favourite environment. At the centre of the bar is Madeleine Lemaire’s watercolour, Le Printemps d’après Édouard Manet.
Anna de Noailles
Punctuated by columns, Maison Proust’s Winter Garden, its second salon, creates a subtly elegant environment. Here, you may indulge in a game of backgammon, chess, or dominoes, borrow a book from our library, or simply dream the day away gazing at marvellous paintings which illustrate Proust’s universe through the elegance of Belle Epoque ladies and dandies. Old-fashioned shadows project onto voluptuous Cordoba leather wall panelling and the gold-threaded ceiling canopy.Ornately tasselled lights also contribute to the warm atmosphere.
“Reading is a friendship.”
Forming the architectural gem of our salons, the rotunda-shaped bookcase is home to a hundred books which evoke the universe of Marcel Proust, centred around a rare manuscript letter and a first edition. A marvellous work of art, with its starry gold-leaf ceiling, echoes the sunshine rotunda of the Garnier Opera House, a favourite festive haunt for the Parisian aristocracy of those times. A marvellous work of art, with its starry gold-leaf ceiling, echoes the sunshine rotunda of the Garnier Opera House, a favourite festive haunt for the Parisian aristocracy of the Belle Epoque.