Anna Karina as Suzanne Simonin in La Réligieuse by Jacques Rivette
Sombre and secret, such indeed was the tone of the building as the Steins discovered and purchased it in 1987. In three years, they turned La Mirande into something unique, and achieved their aim, which was to create the impression of a private house in which different décors had accumulated over three centuries. They were helped in giving shape to their ideas by the Paris interior decorator, François-Joseph Graf, and the Avignon architect, Gilles Grégoire. The purpose was to obtain an overall harmony out of the coexistence of 18th and 19th century styles, which is infinitely more respectful of the character of the building than earlier arrangements. A unique restoration process was carried out for creating a hotel. The Steins, unfettered by rigid rules, have succeeded in resolving the dilemma familiar to architects responsible for the renovation of historical monuments: what should one keep, what period should be given pride of place? For that which is handed down to us from the distant past is almost always composite. Restoration is not an exact science, but an art, which makes the person carrying it out an artist.
The 5-star boutique hotel is named after the famous room in the Popes’ Palace “La Mirande” set up by the representatives of the Popes to receive the city's notables and high dignitaries visiting the town.
La Mirande was a large rectangular room, 18 m long by 8.5 m wide. There were eight windows and the walls were hung with embossed and gilded leather. It was the main banqueting hall, where balls and concerts were given in honour of distinguished guests, dukes and princes visiting Avignon. At Christmas the Vice-Legat, who was the master of the papal palace when the popes had left, traditionally gave three banquets, one for the clergy, one for the nobility and one for the judiciary.
The memory of this extraordinary place lingered on long after the building was pulled down, giving its name to “Place de La Mirande”, sometimes spelt “l’Amirande”, as a reminder of the origin of the name, the “admirable” hall.
The tremendous force of La Mirande makes itself felt on whoever approaches it from near or from far, an echo of the tumult of the centuries, a resurrection of the splendour of ancient times, reminiscence of the age of enlightenment. La Mirande, 5-star boutique hotel, is a story without end that provokes the imagination. (adapted from a text by Claude Eveno)