08 March 2009

The Cellars of the Hôtel de Paris - Réserve Marie Blanc

Look up above the archways and we see wonderful old signs.

We are looking at the Réserve Marie Blanc which allows me to tell you a little more of the history of this great cellar - and of Monte Carlo. It was Marie Blanc who built these amazing cellars.

In 1863, the Plateau des Spélugues on which the Casino was built was used to cultivate traditional Mediterranean species : orange, lemon and olive trees.

It was Prince Charles III, successor to Prince Florestan l, who initiated the creation of a new kind of life for the Principality. The press of the day noted the Sovereign’s ambitions for the town : "The new Casino launched by the Société des Bains de Mer will soon rise from the ground in monumental proportions. Around the Casino, fine hotels will be built, having nothing to fear if compared to those that have been opened in Paris, London or New York". Five years after the first stone was laid, the Casino was inaugurated, in the spring of 1863. It was to be a brilliant success.

François Blanc then became a providential gift. Arriving from Homburg, a spa in Germany whose prosperity he had assured, he acquired the property owned by the Société des Bains de Mer and the Cercle des Etrangers de Monaco for a period of 50 years. In keeping with the Prince’s wishes, he continued to reinforce the principles on which the creation of Monte-Carlo was based : a place that would be quite exceptional for its luxury, comfort and location.

In addition to the Casino, the Hôtel de Paris and the Café de Paris, superb gardens and villas were soon to transform the Plateau des Spélugues into a real town which had to be given a name. On June 1st 1866, Prince Charles III then decreed that the land on the Commune of Monaco situated between the torrent of Sainte-Dévote and the pathway called "Francosi", and between the main road from Monaco to Menton and the seafront was henceforth to be named "Monte-Carlo".

On the death of François Blanc in 1877, his widow Marie took over the direction of the Société des Bains de Mer. She carried on her husband’s work, deciding to build new wine-cellars for the Hôtel de Paris and it is in those cellars we stand right now.

The Réserve Marie Blanc is now a museum, opened in 1990. You can see sections of wine boxes - precious wines of a particularly good year - and two or three of these were given to members of our party as a souvenir our fabulous visit.

Tomorrow: the private dining room.


Julie ScottsdaleDailyPhoto.com said...

another excellent photo and such great history. I love learning these tidbits of life. And, you guys were provided such interesting souvenirs. way cool

Stefan Jansson said...

Thanks for the history lesson.

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

Thank you. What a treat for you to share this experience with us. My wife and I are in Napa this weekend, so we are immersed in the wine culture for a few days.

glenda said...

What great information. Enjoying the pictures and history very much.

George Townboy said...

Great history, Jilly. The amazement continues!

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