The dawn of salons — as social gathering places for the exchange of ideas on literature, art, religion, politics, philosophy and more — dates to 16th century Italy. But the term is most closely associated with France in the 17th and 18th centuries, when conversation was considered an art form of the highest order. Catherine de Vivonne, marquise de Rambouillet, presided over what many consider to be the most famous salon of that era, which was held at the Hôtel de Rambouillet. Modern-day salons still hew to the tradition of bringing together mixed company with the common goal of reaching a deeper understanding on a particular subject.
—Jessica GeltCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times