Maison Belle Époque: Art Nouveau at all levels

Sep 16, 2020 • 3 mins

One of the biggest private collections of Art Nouveau décor, furniture and objects can be found in Épernay, inside the Maison Belle Époque, owned by Perrier-Jouët Champagne. Its renovation, completed in 2017, showcases this precious heritage.

A Champagne Heritage

Included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015, the Avenue de Champagne in Épernay is a parade of hotels particuliers and gorgeous residences that tell the story of the golden age of the first Champagne trading houses, sometimes with great ostentation. The Maison Belle Époque, with its courtyard and garden, on the other hand, stands out for its architectural sobriety. Inside, it is the height of refinement with newly-refurnished rooms and a glowing tribute to Art Nouveau. “The painstaking restoration work carried out between 2015 and 2017 has enabled us to re-connect the premises to their original truth, to make an outstanding collection beautiful once more, and to show the links between this jewel of heritage and champagne”, says Axelle de Buffévent, Perrier-Jouët’s Style Director.

A House for living in

The Champagne House’s deep, lasting affinity with Art Nouveau was forged around the turn of the 20th century. The Gallice family, who succeeded the founders, were great art lovers and related to the founders by marriage. They commissioned Emile Gallé to create a design for their champagne, and, in 1902, he delivered four magnums featuring a spray of Japanese white anemones. This was to become the inspiration and emblem of the first Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque cuvée, 62 years later. The Avenue de Champagne residence, previously only used by the family, became a guest house for friends of the Champagne House from the 1980s onwards. The rationale for hosting visitors by invitation only, which makes the Maison Belle Époque a residence as remarkable as it is welcoming, prevails today.

Open to Contemporary Art

Guests can savour a champagne de prestige in the Majorelle room; toast the singer Yvette Guilbert, immortalised by Toulouse-Lautrec; dine beneath Cordoue leather panels; and sleep in one of the five upstairs bedrooms – one of which has a 1910 bed designed by Hector Guimard. “Anywhere else, this perfect masterpiece would be behind a museum window. Here, we sleep on it!” Axelle de Buffévent enthuses. A lamp by Raoul Larche, inspired by the dancer Loïs Fuller, has recently been added to the collection. “As we don’t want it frozen within a dusty, backward-looking heritage”, Perrier-Jouët has also opened the Maison Belle Époque to contemporary artists, including Ritsue Mishima, who has left her stamp on the ceiling of the new bar, and the Mischer’Traxler twosome, who have created an art installation in the form of a table that unveils its magic in an elegant corridor.