It was the autumn of 1979 when two British couples, searching for lodging on a road trip to Spain, stumbled upon something peculiar. From the outside, the old stone hotel seemed to fit comfortably into its place and time. Located down a narrow cobblestone street on the outskirts of Montelimar in southern France, it even felt quaint.
It wasn't until they entered the building and settled into their rooms that the surroundings became noticeably strange. Everything around them was perfectly antiquated: latch doors, shuttered pane-less windows, simple calico bedding and bolsters instead of pillows. The fixtures were gas-lit, the plumbing was outmoded and there wasn't a telephone anywhere within the establishment. Still, the couples brushed off these oddities and went to bed after enjoying a dinner of steak, frites and beer at the downstairs bar.
The next morning as they ate breakfast, things became undeniably bizarre. First, an elegantly clad woman entered the dining room wearing a dated silk evening gown and buttoned boots. Next, two French gendarmes entered the room in uniforms that were later determined to pre-date 1905. At one point, the couples approached the gendarmes for directions to the autoroute that would take them to their Spanish destination. The officers didn't understand the word and instead instructed the travelers to use an older, out of the way road. Finally, when the Brits were ready to pay and continue on their way, the clerk handed them a bill for 19 francs--the equivalent of a several cents for their entire stay.
These interactions aside, the most mysterious element of the story lay in what happened two weeks later. Because of their unforgettable experience, the couples decided to stay at the hotel once again on their return trip from Spain. Back in Montelimar, traveling down the same timeworn cobblestone street, the hotel was gone. Certain of their location, the couples asked several locals about the old hotel, but to no avail--it had vanished.
This alleged and curious timeslip experience is the foundation for our Hôtel Fantôme pattern. Undulating time lines separate and rejoin, marked by stylized Provencial lavender sprigs..