Eileen Gray at the Centre Pompidou

Good morning! How are you all today? Me, I have a hangover. I have a hangover because last night the owner of The Girls Guide to Paris, Doni Belau, and I tried the latest restaurant by internationally reknowned sommelier Enrico Bernardo’s new restaurant Goust. A tasting menu in a luxurious restaurant run by a sommelier is bound to lead to a little excess. And excess we did, closing down the place sometime after midnight.

Which made it a little hard getting out of bed this morning. Even harder as I had to rise extra early this morning because Premier Tax Free had invited me, and a bunch of bloggers for breakfast at the restaurant Georges on the top of the Centre Pompidou to learn more about French-Irish business relations and visit an exhibition of the artist Eileen Gray.

Why was a duty free refund scheme sponsoring an art exhibit? Because its an Irish company doing business in France and Eileen Gray is the ultimate symbol of French Irish relations. She came to Paris as an art student and was quickly seduced by the local art scene. She quickly bought a flat on the rue Bonaparte, in the 6th and settled in until her death at the blessed age of 98.

The Georges is often too trendy for moi, but gorgeous none the less

Mlle Grey had several passions; lacquer furniture, which she elaborated in her atelier with the Japanese master Seizo Sugawara, textiles that she developed in a second atelier with Evelyn Wyld and architecture which she pursued with Jean Badovici. The exceptional quality of her work was quickly recognized by Parisian fashion designers and art collectors. She gained international acclaim when the New York Tomes cited her for having created “one of the most exceptional examples of 1920’s architecture” for the apartment of socialite Madame Mathieu Lévy.

The  show opens with her sumptuous Art Deco style, full of sensuous curves and deep textures before growing into a more stylized modern expression of  form and function, evolving very much like the artist’s work did throughout her career from 1906 to 1954.

While very few of us recognize her name, several of her pieces are modern icons, instantly recognizable. I had to cut my visit short to rush down the Pompidou’s series of escalators, disappear into the metro and get back to my day job, thankful that Mr French wants to see this show, so I know I’ll be back.

AND now a word from our sponsors… I was shocked to learn from Doni (from the Girls Guide to Paris and a disinterested third party) that a lot of visitors to Paris think the tax return program is just a scam and that lots of people opt out of recuperating their Duty Free Tax Refund. So as a service to all you visitors out there, I feel compelled to clarify that it is NOT a scam and that filling out the Premier Tax Free forms at boutiques where you’ve spent more than 175€ in a single day will save you €s. Be sure to have a photocopy of your passport on you and don’t be shy!



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