Hôtel de Verdun 1882, <br>a Traveller’s House in Lyon

Hôtel de Verdun 1882,
a Traveller’s House in Lyon

The starting point for this adventure is two inveterate globetrotters: Isabelle and Gilles Moynier. A pair of dreamers from Lyon who, having travelled and marvelled at the world, developed a desire to recreate a traveller’s house themselves: the Hôtel de Verdun 1882. A timeless place located in the historic antiques district of the city of Lyon. And it is in this 19th-century building – located not far from the Perrache railway station – that the couple, assisted by a whole section of their family!  – are working hard to give their guests more than just a night in a hotel, but a real experience. For these treasure seekers, this lifelong vision – which they have been planning over the last 30 years – crystallises all the beauty, goodness and emotion that their wanderings have offered them. From their Venetian escapades to their Cairo discoveries, the hoteliers were inspired by their “moments of grace” abroad, as well as by their readings and memories of films, to convey this feeling of being “welcome” in their 30 rooms. Redesigned with the help of Studio Olivier Guyot, the spaces here contain the accumulated treasures of a lifetime of family activities from the four corners of the earth. From old hospital chairs acquired in London to missionary chasubles discovered in an antique shop in Cochin: every object on display at the Hôtel de Verdun 1882 tells its own story while the common thread is the unmistakeable touch of true craftspeople. But they find joy in the very heart of the Lyon peninsula, too! Among the collectors and in other shops surrounding their establishment, whose names they happily share. Ideal locations for finding the rare treasure that will fit into one of the many rooms of their private mansion, if not their own suite up in the eaves, where the Moyniers usually stay during the week to stay in close touch with their gîte. Without doubt the most closely-guarded secret at 82, rue de la Charité, and we invite you to discover some images at the end of this report.

Hôtel de Verdun 1882, 82 Rue de la Charité, 69002 – Lyon. Reservation by telephone on +33 (0)478 373471 or on their website www.hoteldeverdun1882.com

Comptoir en bois et mur gris bleuté à l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Vaisselier noir dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Escalier en bois et tableaux dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Vaisselier noir dans le salon de l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Assise capitonnée dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Statue en bronze dans l'Hotel de Verdun à Lyon
Assise capitonnée dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon

Isabelle, Gilles: would you please introduce yourselves?

Isabelle & Gilles

We met at school and have been together ever since! We’ve always shared this desire to create a place with a bit of fantasy. We have three children who have flown the nest and continued the journeys we started together. We have a remarkable capacity to be amazed by everything and to draw inspiration from everywhere. We were struck by unusual places such as Carlo Mollino’s apartment in Turin, the Villa Santo Sospir tattooed by Jean Cocteau and Denis Severs’ house in London, as well as by films like Phantom Thread, Amore and, of course, Barry Lindon and all of Visconti.

What is your background?

Isabelle & Gilles

At the beginning, in a previous life, we acquired a taste for welcoming guests, creating atmospheres and giving pleasure. And then there were family and business trips for international groups all over the world and six years in London. We realised that our memories were fed by places we visited, people we met and times spent in particular hotels. The places that have made an impression on us all have one thing in common: they made us feel welcome. But also a particular atmosphere that was created by a person whose personality you could feel, whether it was through the choice of furniture or the selection of books and so on. In our family hit parade, there’s a 19th century-style pension in Venice full of old damask and lit by candlelight, a small hotel with a fireplace in the room in Ooty in Tamil Nadu, a summer resort for the English, the Albergo del Pugatorio in Naples and the presence of Robert Kaplan in the background. In our jargon, we call these “moments of grace”. These memories still enchant our daily lives years later, and in turn, we wanted to create a place where people would feel good, a refreshing and inspiring place. So we opened up our trunks and found everything we had collected over the years.

The Hotel de Verdun 1882 was formerly a private mansion. Who was lucky enough to live here?

Isabelle

Historical research – commissioned from a heritage architect – has revealed that in the 18th century, this was the home of Louis XV’s engineer, Michel-Antoine Perrache. He was famous for having designed and undertaken the works that would allow the reclamation of land on the Rhône and Saône rivers and the creation of the Confluence district. The present building dates from 1882. It’s the work of the architect Philibert Bellemain and was the private mansion of Fritz Hoffhner – son of the creator of the iconic Georges Brasserie – which is a true Lyon institution. Then, in 1921, it became a hotel at the time when Perrache station was the hub of the Paris – Lyon – Mediterranean line. It was the time of the first holidays to the south, joyful and carefree. It’s one of the oldest hotels in Lyon!

Chaises Bertoia et bibliothèque noir dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Bibliothèque noire dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Façade de l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Tables en bois et chaises métalliques dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Chaises capitonnées et arcade en verre dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon

How did your project come about?

Isabelle

For two years, I went back and forth between Paris, and Lyon and I visited many places, but none of them was what we were looking for. And just when we were starting to get discouraged, we came across this beautiful building with its 19th-century façade in this lively and historic neighbourhood.

Gilles

We fell in love with this very old-fashioned hotel. We felt sure that we would find somewhere magical underneath the false ceilings, the worn-out carpets and the many layers of paint. We were assisted by the Olivier Guyot Studio. We wanted to bring out the former elegance of the building. We believe in joyful nostalgia and wanted to create a place that invites you to take a deep breath and offers inspiration.

What do you want your visitors to experience here?

Gilles

We’ve always been inspired by a phrase from the poet Marya Angelou: “I have learned over time that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” So we designed this hotel as a welcoming and personal place, where kindness, generosity and enthusiasm are the key words. We run the hotel ourselves with a team of seven people. We want to get back to the basics of the hotel business, the one embodied by a team of men and women whose mission is simple: to share, to interact, to capture peoples’ imagination, and to create unforgettable memories together. The charm and success of a trip start with the hotel, and we strive to create a place that makes you feel welcome and wanted. Finally, I love spending time with our clients and advising them on itineraries that allow them to discover little-known neighbourhoods and nooks and crannies: the hidden alleyways and secret gardens, the good antique shop on the corner, the walk along the quays, the market to go to… we hope to publish our “not objective” guide to Lyon soon.

Isabelle

The notion of time is crucial. It took us many years to put together all the furniture, posters, photos and books that decorate the hotel. Everything has been designed to help you slow down and recharge your batteries. Breakfast is a precious moment in the day, and we take special care over it. The hotel is located in THE street for superb food; we select the best products from local artisans known for their skills! And we took advantage of this renovation to put in place principles that we hold dear. It was incredibly important for us to be consistent in our lives and our choices. We offer a flask of filtered water on arrival, and we have found a small eco-labelled saponification laboratory in Grenoble from which we obtain our Mediterranean-fragranced shower gel and hand gel. We also chose certified eco-friendly cotton bed linen, which is so soft to the touch. And we have just been awarded the Clé Verte label!

You take particular care in curating the furniture. What pieces can we find within your walls?

Isabelle

We imagined it as the home of a traveller, an art lover, sensitive to details. A generous person, who loves life, people and creating settings, like Grand Tour and Room with a View, with a predilection for the Mediterranean and Italy – whose influence has been so strong in Lyon since the Renaissance. We have focused on furniture that has had a life of its own or bears the mark of a craftsman, objects with texture and sometimes scratches. There is no logic in the associations, but the whole forms a unique ensemble where objects and periods respond to each other. We brought back some furniture and objects from our travels: old hospital chairs found in London, missionary chasubles found in an antique shop in Cochin, old maps brought back from China and Lisbon. We bought the 28 Tulip chairs by Saarinen at auction; they were in the student rooms of the École Centrale (we found them with their share of saucy graffiti engraved on the backs!).

Gilles

We are very sensitive to images, and when we come back from our trips to the US, we bring back magazines from the 1950s and 1960s which have graphic covers we are particularly fond of, including Holiday, Life and The New Yorker. Finally, books play a special role. They are souvenirs from visits to museums around the world or have been selected from bookshops such as Liberia Cascianelli in Rome and the Descours bookshop in Lyon.

Murs bleus avec banc en bois dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Balcon dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Salle de bain blanche dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Chambre avec tête de lit bleue à l'Hotel de Verdun à Lyon

We imagined it as the home of a traveller, an art lover, sensitive to details. A generous person, who loves life, people and creating settings, like Grand Tour and Room with a View (...)

Hôtel de Verdun 1882, <br>a Traveller’s House in Lyon
Cheminée en marbre dans une suite dans l'hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Rideau en velours et bureau en bois dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Rideaux en velours ocres dans la chambre de l'Hotel de Verdun à Lyon

Who did you work with to furnish and decorate the Hôtel de Verdun 1882?

Isabelle & Gilles

A real tribe has formed around the project, from young talents to craftsmen with proven know-how. Studio Olivier Guyot enhanced the interior spaces and designed the cabinets and desks that echo the arches of the building and bring softness and elegance to the rooms. The graphic design, which reflects the warm, happy spirit of the hotel, was created by Victor, our youngest son, who studied at Central St Martins and then at ECAL in Lausanne. We’re also fortunate to be in the heart of a district full of galleries and erudite and passionate antique dealers, each of whom has contributed to the completion of the project.

Which space(s) did you particularly enjoy decorating?

Isabelle & Gilles

It is not strictly speaking about decoration, but rather about creating atmospheres. It starts with the main room, which serves as a living space, where you can sit on the sofas to chat or work. We loved creating the wall of posters, photos, paintings and tapestries. We were so happy to finally get them out of their tubes after collecting them for so long! It’s a real patchwork. We found originals at the Royal Academy in London as well as on eBay and at the Athens flea market, like this 45 rpm cover in the spirit of Vasarely, and then in galleries like these exhibition posters and lithographs signed by Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais. We wanted to create a cosy environment, so we opted for natural colours. We were finally able to bring out the furniture that our families had agreed to look after for us. Some Bertoias, a daybed, a large sofa with matching armchairs upholstered in leopard print fabric, as well as the large chandelier with tassels we bought one day in Naples. We went a bit crazy with the big displays. We’ve created micro worlds that evolve according to our mood. Our favourite collection of mugs featuring the British royal family, a collection of “Bonjour tristesse” in several languages, a group of books in the colour yellow, a pyramid of magnificent red tarbooshes bought in Cairo… On the upper floors, we played with the old-fashioned landings that are reminiscent of a boarding house. We installed Fortuny hanging lamps, which provide a warm light and a Venetian touch. In the bedrooms, we opted for a blue leopard pattern carpet designed by Madeleine Castaing and produced by Codimat. We chose a shimmering camel velvet with a very heavy, super-soft finish for the curtains. The opaline pendant lights provide a soft light; the headboards are covered with grey wood panelling. In each bedroom, we placed books from the Gallimard white collection which we chose one by one. They are by our favourite authors, and we have hung posters from our personal collection on the walls, souvenirs of exhibitions from all over…

You are located on the Presqu’île de Lyon, the historic heart of the city. How would you describe the atmosphere here?

Gilles

It’s a very lively neighbourhood with a village feel. It’s packed with independent shops, a mishmash where antique dealers, gallery owners, bookshops and wood gilders rub shoulders with bakeries, chocolate shops, cheese shops, cobblers, traditional butchers’ shops and the rising stars of Lyon’s restaurant scene.

Which places in Lyon do you automatically recommend to your guests?

Isabelle & Gilles

As far as restaurants are concerned, we have a soft spot for Café Arsène, Himalia and the Deli de Lyon, and we always mention the great classics, Café Comptoir Abel and Brasserie Georges.
We spend a lot of time at the bookshop, Librairie Descours, with its team of attentive experts and their wide selection of art and literature books. The Slika and Autour de l’Image galleries always have amazing exhibitions. For antique dealers, La Chrysalide and its selection of ceramics and jewellery from the 1950s, Emmeline Lescure (@emmelinepics) and her beautiful finds, the Galerie du désordre and its elegant displays, the Arcadia Gallery and its treasure trove of antique fabrics. And finally, l’Oeil Végétal for a selection of rare plants in a vintage shop setting.

Fenêtre dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Chambre blanche sous les toits à l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon Photographies et décoration à l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon Chaises en bois dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon Coin salon sous les toits à l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon Commode et photographies dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Cadre photo en bois dans l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Vaisselle à l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Hôtel de Verdun 1882, <br>a Traveller’s House in Lyon Hôtel de Verdun 1882, <br>a Traveller’s House in Lyon
Cadres photos dans la chambre sous les toits à l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon
Lampe et commode en bois à l'Hôtel de Verdun à Lyon

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