Belle Vue du Lac; Rendezvous de Chasse was an early resort and restaurant near Lake Merritt run by Charles Blaise, sometimes known as the "House of Blazes". It was later moved a short distance and was Rosso's Cottage then Lake View Cottage.
"Belle Vue du Lac" translates as "beautiful view of the lake," which it doubtless had. "Rendez-vous de chasse" translates as "the hunting meeting," and is the name of a composition by 19th century Italian composer Gioachino Rossini. The name is probably connected to Blaise's choice of attire described below.
There were, however, other wayside houses which were noted far and near for one reason or another. Beginning right here in Oakland when the city was in its infancy, there was established on the land now south of twelfth and east of Oak street, a resort with the imposing title of "Belle Vue du Lac; Rendezvous de Chasse." Of course with this name it may be readily imagined that the proprietor was a native of la belle France. His name was Blaise, and therefore the resort became known to a portion of its patrons as "the house of blazes." M. Blaise himself was a dignified, elderly man, with a long, white imperial and curling mustaches. He affected a gaily-colored and much decorated jacket, hunting boots, and trousers of Parisian cut. M. Blaise's chateau was surrounded by small oaks and shrubbery, and in the corner of the grounds forty years ago he caused a flagstaff to be planted from which he took pride in floating to the breeze on "14 July" the tricolor. M. Blaise on such occasions invited whoever might be his guests to drink with him to the sentiment, "Down with the Bastille."
ALMOST A SCANDAL.
Often the "rendezvous de chasse" rang with merriment far into the night in the olden days, parties of pleasure-seekers coming from San Francisco and other cities and towns of the State to pass away a few idle hours in what was then a suburban retreat, "far from the maddening [sic] crowd" the poet speaks of. M. Blaise usually had in his employ a chef who could satisfy the most exacting palate, and hence epicures flocked there to enjoy the dinners this chef prepared and which M. Blaise served with the manner of a "grand signeus" which he was capable of doing because he really was descended, it was said by those who knew of his earlier history, from a family of the old nobility of France. However that may be, M. Blaise kept his resort with less scandal floating from its frolic-filled halls than is nowadays exuded from the so-called French restaurants of cities. Once, away in the late '60's, Blaise's resort came very near having a scandal. It was when the noted pianist, Gottschalk, was touring this country. He here was thrown in company with a high-spirited young woman, daughter of a retired United States army officer, and "papa being away the mice did play." In some manner now forgotten, by the oldest inhabitant, Gottschalk induced the General's daughter to consent to dine with him at Blaise's "rendezvous de chasse." Evidently the dinner was exceptionally good, or the celebrated pianist was an exceedingly entertaining fellow, because the General's daughter forgot all about returning to her home a few blocks distant until her father and his menservants began smashing down M. Blaise's front door. There was then, it was said at the time, a hurried flight over back fences and across lots. Eventually Gottschalk and the young woman got to the General's house before the old warrior returned. and that was the end of it. It happened, however, that Gottschalk saw fit to cancel all his engagements about the bay and to take a hurried flight eastward by Panama steamer.
As time went by and settlers crowded about M. Blaise's resort its oldtime patronage fell off. Eventually Blaise disappeared, other Frenchmen attempted to conduct the place, but it gradually fell lower and lower in public estimation, and perhaps, deservedly so, until the City Council declined to further permit its lessee to apply for a liquor license. That marked the end of the once-famous Blaise's resort.
It's unknown what years it was run by Blaise. A 1952 Daily Knave column says it was originally owned by a man named Pellisier. Blaise married Pellisier's adopted daughter and eventually came to own the land. 3
Nearby property was listed for sale in 1876. 2 An 1888 article says the cottage was purchased by C. Mitchell Grant, and he used it as bachelor's residence. Actor John A. Stevens lived there for a time, then the cottage sat vacant. The land under it was sold, and the cottage moved. 6
According to the 1860 census, Blaise's wife was named Annette and was 30 years younger than Charles; they had one son, also named Charles. The 1952 column says Blaise and Annette sold the place and returned to France in the 1880s, 3 and Charles died not long after in December 1883. 5
An 1888 article says he had been a page to King Charles X of France (1824-1830), and then was librarian under King Louis Phillipe (1830-1848). His royal connections made it necessary to flee France when the monarchy fell [French Revolution of 1848?]. 6 It's unknown whether this is true.
See also Rosso's Cottage.
Links and References
- Bishop's Oakland Directory 1872
- ad Oakland Daily Transcript March 13, 1876
- Daily Knave Oakland Tribune May 15, 1952
- Blaise Inn Blazes Out of Oakland Oakland Tribune May 1, 1952
- Death of Charles Blaise Oakland Tribune January 26, 1884
- Courtier Blaize Oakland Tribune June 21, 1888
- Before the Auditorium Came Oakland Tribune July 2, 1916