Marie-Antoinette’s Petit Trianon:  A Crown Jewel Or A Terrible Curse?

Marie-Antoinette’s Petit Trianon:  A Crown Jewel Or A Terrible Curse?

“You love flowers, Madame, so I have a bouquet for you. It is Le Petit Trianon” said King Louis XVI, to his wife, 19 years old. This lady was Marie-Antoinette, the last Queen of France. In the hands of the young monarch, Le Petit Trianon became a double-edged sword: a jewel and a curse. Her most iconic legacy, which made her a household name, also hastened her descent into an eventual deathly demise...

Topkapi Palace: Where Women Exercised Power In An Age Of Absolute Male Dominance

Topkapi Palace: Where Women Exercised Power In An Age Of Absolute Male Dominance

Over a period of more than 16 centuries, Istanbul was the epicenter of many powerful civilizations. The Ottoman Empire was the last one to leave an indelible mark on its history, before the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923. A striking testimony to the Ottoman Islamic style in...

Hôtel De La Païva: The Intriguing Story Of The Woman Behind The Most Sumptuous “Hôtel Particulier” On The Champs-Elysées (Part 2)

Hôtel De La Païva: The Intriguing Story Of The Woman Behind The Most Sumptuous “Hôtel Particulier” On The Champs-Elysées (Part 2)

While La Païva was often described as an overly ambitious upstart, excessive in her need for material goods and uncouth in her way of showing her fortune and possessions, I’d rather explore the reasons that might have led her to adopt certain behavior and what really fueled that determined ambition and drove her to build her extravagant Hôtel Particulier. She was, after all, a courtesan...

Hôtel De La Païva: The Intriguing Story Behind The Most Sumptuous Mansion on The Champs-Elysées (Part 1)

Hôtel De La Païva: The Intriguing Story Behind The Most Sumptuous Mansion on The Champs-Elysées (Part 1)

While I was flipping through a book about historic palaces in Paris, especially those rarely accessible to the public, a particular and quite unusual story caught my eye and sparked my interest. The fascinating story I am about to describe narrates the life of the mastermind behind one of the most emblematic monuments on the Champs-Elysées (Hôtel Particulier in French): Hôtel de La Païva, the only example left of the magnificent palaces that once lined the iconic avenue...