Pompidou's Dali exhibition inspires artist's favourite hotel

Just look out for the lobster

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The Independent Culture

The Salvador Dalí retrospective at the Pompidou Centre in Paris has now become the most popular exhibition in the Centre's history, with two-hour queues daily to see the vast and extraordinary retrospective of the Surrealist artist.

Fittingly, the five-star Paris hotel Le Meurice in the Rue de Rivoli is about to arrange art packages that will combine a stay with tickets to the exhibition. Fitting, because for the last 30 years of his life Dalí lived at the hotel for several months each year. And the story of his time there makes today's radical artists look tame.

He would walk the corridors with his two pet ocelots; when he left for lunch at a restaurant he would ask staff to throw coins under the wheels of his car, so that he could drive away on a path of gold. He would summon the lift by pressing the elevator button with the tip of his Academician's sword. And in a gesture that today's YBAs would die for, he lined his suite with paper bags, each containing a pot of paint. Then he would solemnly throw open the windows, step out on to the balcony and pour paint on to the parked cars below. Explosion painting was born.

Of course, his suite was also used, more conventionally, as a studio to paint classic nudes. Well, fairly conventionally... the model had to be happy to have a live lobster placed on her stomach.

Dali, Le Centre Pompidou, Paris (centrepompidou.fr) to 25 March; for art packages, see lemeurice.com