Red Griotte marble

Named after Morello cherries, the sumptuous Red Griotte marble has its color, a deep red. Its motifs are due to fossilized shells in the stone, and it is often stripped or flecked of white calcite, in which case one will name it "partridge eye" ("oeil de Perdrix").

Seeing it as an exceptional marble, King Louis XIV decrees in 1692 "Royal Quarries" the Red Griotte marble quarries of Minervois, nearby Carcassonne. Very much in vogue in the 18th century , the Red Griotte is a marble of preference for aristocratic fireplaces. The Palace of Versailles holds several specimen, as in Louis XV's Cabinet, with gilded bronze decorations. The Louvre, the Château de Fontainebleau, the Grand Foyer in Opéra Garnier, hold fellow fireplaces, rivaling their charm. Often used as well for little objects that are immediately glorified by its aspect, like clocks and statuettes, this marble also adorns palace and church architectures.

The Red Griotte marble is still mainly extracted from the Minervois quarry, but this magnificent material can also be found in the Hautes-Pyrénées department, and in the Spanish Basque Country.

Versailles parquet floor

Embellishing the floors of the illustrious Palace of Versailles, and conceived for it circa 1684, the Versailles parquet floor ("Parquet de Versailles") is one of the first parquet flooring that we know of. These panels revolutionize the floor styles, bringing them an elegance beyond comparison to the former pavings, and providing moreover a better comfort. It is also called "parquet à la Française" for the success it has in aristocratic homes, from the Grand Trianon to the Hôtel de Toulouse, hosting today the National French Bank. It is thus a flagship element of the Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI styles.

Its interlaced diagonals gives it distinguishing dynamical feature, but it is most importantly by its structure that an expert recognizes it : it always counts 42 mortices, 42 tenons and 42 dowels, hand-assembled with no glue. The squares can measure from about 3 to 4 feet, and their thickness varies from ¾ to 2 inches.

Of timeless refinement, the parquet de Versailles remains a major decorative reference. The high quality of the woods used in 18th century enables some period parquetry to be used still and to be commercialized, for the connoisseurs' pleasure. The model has however never stopped being produced, and it is still broadly exported. Its simple geometry perfectly adapts to modern indoors, bringing them the Grand Style's charm.

Art Nouveau style

Fascinating art of the Belle Epoque, the Art Nouveau is opposed to traditional forms, in favor of sensuality, of the vividness of swaying lines, mysterious arabesques, asymmetries, of everything able to glorify nature. The name "Art Nouveau", referring to French and Belgian works, has his equivalents in Catalan Modernismo, German Jugendstil or Vienna Secession, for this artistic Spring blooms in entire Europe. It reaches an apogee between 1900 and 1905, and loses its popularity with World War I.

Art Nouveau is first of all a total art, which visionary ambition is to embrace all artistic fields to redefine people's environment, just as De Stijl or the Bauhaus will further try. This is why it is turned to decorative arts, architecture and home decoration, where it makes a true aesthetic revolution. Art Nouveau finds applications in every arts, from jewelery to painting, and easily broadcasts its refined lines with mechanized graphic arts, through posters and typography.

Symbol of Belle Epoque's sweet life in Paris, the "Guimard style", decorating the subway entrances since 1900, is a good example of Parisian tendencies. The Ecole de Nancy, major Art Nouveau center, regroups Emile Gallé, the Daum brothers, Louis Majorelle, Eugène Vallin and Victor Prouvé.