The Paris streetscape is so uniform (dare I say sometimes monotonous?) that a sight like this one is a real shocker. This building, at 48 rue de Courcelles in the 8th arrondissement not far from Parc Monceau, has the bones of a typical Parisian hotel particulier underneath all that red and chinoiserie. The owner was Chiang Tsai Loo, a Chinese art dealer who knew how to make a buck. He turned a trip to France into a lifelong adventure of selling the treasures of the Far East to major industrialists of the West And of course, he needed the right kind of place to conduct his business. With the help of architect Fernand Bloch, he turned this building into an amalgamation of traditional Chinese architecture with a more fanciful style, which while perhaps not historically accurate, apparently appealed to the mindset of the potential client.
Mr. Loo died in 1957 and left a large collection of jade art works to the Musee Guimet; the building still bears the name of his company and you can still go there if you're in the market for Asian art. Plus if you've been thinking about a spot for your Chinese New Year party, I understand that you can rent rooms for private functions. No clue what the interiors look like; to be frank, the exterior looks better from a distance than close up.