European Fine Art Fair – Maastricht, Netherlands

Holland’s Mecca for the Good Life

The museum-quality offerings of the most prestigious art market on the international calendar make their much-awaited appearance at Maastricht’s annual European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF). Poor Maastricht barely has time to catch its breath after its late-winter Car­nival celebration (one of the most famous in Europe) with parades of elaborate floats, par­ties, and fancy dress, when more than 150 art and antiques dealers from a dozen countries arrive to show thousands of paintings and works of art to art lovers, collectors, and cura­tors.

Major museums from around the world are regularly represented among the expert buyers at the fair, assured by the crackerjack team of international experts who examine all objects for authenticity, quality, and condi­tion.

The ancient Roman town of Maastricht is the perfect host city because of its charm, sophistication, high-end shopping, dining, and newfound bon vivant ambience. Here at Holland’s southernmost point, wedged in between Belgium and Germany, languages, customs, and trends flow freely across bor­ders.

Worldly Maastricht and its lively cafes and restaurants brim with high-rolling fair-goers who come to town every March to pick up an extra Rembrandt etching or add to their collection of Gobelin tapestries.

Ideally located in the traffic-free historical center on the city’s most beautiful tree-shaded square is the Hotel Derlon. Not only is this hotel of choice the next-door neighbor to the beloved Onze Lieve Vrouwebasiliek (or Basilica of Our Lady, a great pilgrimage church even today), but it boasts the ruins of a Roman forum in its cellar.

Alternatively, stay outside the city at one of Holland’s most luxurious country hotels, Chateau St. Gerlach, located in the south­ eastern hill-and-dale region of Limburg, in the lovely Geuldal River Valley.

Local hotelier and restaurateur Camille Oostwegel took on a her­culean restoration project with this 1,000-acre estate. The exceptional 97-room chateau has been reborn with handloomed Venetian fabrics and opulent silks; Provengal, Spanish, and Italian antiques; a contemporary glass winter garden; and restored Baroque Austrian fres­coes in the estate’s church that are among the country’s most important.

Surrounded by Baroque gardens that blend into a natural pre­serve grazed by Scottish Highland cattle and Koniks horses, the quiet beauty of the setting may make the trip into nearby Maastricht less of a temptation.

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