Welcome to Paris

By Mary Gallagher

Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris

Jump right off the Champs-Elysées curb and you’ll land at the legendary Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris, an eight-storey landmark 1928 building, offering just 245 guest rooms, all with unique architectural details and many featuring private terraces overlooking the city.

Just minutes from the Louvre, couturiers and Champs-Elysées, discover real luxury service with the city’s largest guest rooms—many with balconies, 21st-century comfort and convenience, stellar dining and a fine luxury spa all in the chic Eighth Arrondissement.

The generously proportioned Superior Rooms and larger Deluxe Rooms offer a view of the Hotel’s courtyards, gardens or Avenue George V. Elegantly furnished, they feature a sitting area and full marble bathroom. More spacious Premier Rooms, located throughout the Hotel, include a larger sitting area and a walk-in closet. Four Seasons Executive Suites offer a large salon with comfortable seating adjoining the secluded bedroom. Located throughout the Hotel, they look out to its courtyards and garden.

Many guests return year after year as the amenities and service here never stop. The one-bedroom superior suites and more spacious one-bedroom deluxe suites feature a living room with comfortable seating for six. Those on upper floors provide spectacular views of the city’s landmarks. On the top floors of the Hotel, duplex suites offer two-level accommodations, with a living room, a private office or fully equipped kitchen, and a spacious bedroom. Premier suites, which offer similar luxury throughout the Hotel, also feature a dining area for up to eight people. On the top floor, the romantic Honeymoon Suite features a breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower and the city from its three terraces.

During our last stay we enjoyed the unprecedented features of one of the Hotels several Presidential Suites running close to 4,000 square feet. In my metro Washington area this borders on a two million dollar plus condominium.

Our third floor suite featured a living room with marble fireplace, dining room with seating for eight guests and a fully equipped kitchen, as well as a TV, VCP and stereo system and a fully equipped office with high-speed Internet access (using Ethernet card). I tend to receive a lot of faxes on the road and they kindly offered to install my own fax machine in the office. The rumor was President Bill Clinton had stayed in this same suite recently but the twice daily cleaning apparently removed all traces of his visit.

The oversized (another understatement) marble bathroom includes a steam room, sauna, bidet and a private walk-in dressing room (larger than my kitchen at home); a guest powder room was in the hall.

The luxurious fabric-covered walls, crystal chandeliers, French School paintings, beautiful objets d’art and creatively arranged fresh flowers were incredible in every room and hall. The rage in all Paris hotels were very tall large vases with the longest stemmed flowers – as much as three feet – with massive blooms we’d ever seen. In some cases they were upside down with the blooms in the water and the stems up. We never tired of these spectacular arrangements.

Our bedroom featured a king size bed and seating area with comfortable couch and chairs. The pillows were down and linens lavish. Truly one woke up a princess in this setting.

The Four Seasons in-room dining is a fine-dining experience within the comfort of your guest room or suite. We used this convenience for breakfast and it was quite fun and in keeping with the elegance of the entire property.

The Hotel has American and Japanese breakfasts and Children’s Menus available and of course will accommodate any guest requests.

Another sunny morning we breakfasted in La Galerie with its stunning Flemish tapestries, 19th-century paintings and furniture, our table overlooking the courtyard garden. Not far off the lobby one needs to pass through a portion of La Galerie to reach the elevators making this an excellent spot for people-watching. In summer, La Galerie serves cocktails in the courtyard from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm every day.

On our next visit, I’m going to dine in Le Cinq, the formal restaurant where Executive Chef Philippe Legendre has created menus for the Four Seasons Hotel George V which draw upon classic French culinary techniques while using a newer, lighter cooking style with the freshest regional ingredients.

Just two months after opening, Le Cinq and Chef Legendre were awarded their first star or “Macaron” from the Michelin Guide; within the first year a second star was awarded. In 2003, barely three years after opening, Le Cinq received a third Michelin star..

With so many features including a highly rated spa and this outstanding location the Four Seasons Hotel George V never disappoints the most discriminating traveler.

Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris
31, avenue George V
75008 Paris France
www.fourseasons.com/paris/
Tel: 33 (0) 1 49 52 70 00
Fax: 33 (0) 1 49 52 70 10

Hotel du Louvre

Looks out from every side at famous landmarks. You can peer from your room into those at the Louvre Museum, on another side – the Opera House Garnier, then the Comedie Francaise and from the fourth, the Palais Royal.

As the first luxury hotel in France, Napoleon III ordered its construction in 1855 to receive the many visitors to the Universal Exposition. Even at this time the hotel had 700 luxury guestrooms, two elevators and a sweeping staircase with 1,250 employees to keep it going.

As a died in the wool Francophile, I was amazed to read that it was the first Grand Hotel in France recognized to be as luxurious as those in New York or in Switzerland.

In 1887, the major department stores were expanding, so the hotel was moved to the other side of the square – where it stands today – in the heart of old Paris.

In 1897, the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro took up residence in one of the apartments of the hotel. He created several of his great paintings of Paris from the windows of his room, which today has become the Pissarro Suite. Some of these masterpieces can be seen at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Arthur Conan Doyle featured the Hotel du Louvre in many of his stories about Sherlock Holmes. He would have been pleased with the compact fully equipped business center on the Mezzanine level and open 24/7. There is internet access and computers with both US and French-style keyboards. I, for some reason, didn’t do well with either sending out very cryptic three word e mails.

Typical Parisian, the main floor Brasserie du Louvre, offers traditional upscale cuisine. food that is typically French, healthy, natural, flavorful and unique. I had breakfast here one morning during my two day stay and was amazed to be totally surrounded by Americans. Actually I thought I was still in New York City not Paris but then it was a big trade show time and the Louvre a favorite hotel.

In the summertime, you can enjoy the flower-filled terrace, ideally located on Place de Palais Royal between the Comedie Francaise and the Louvre Museum. Now I found it interesting that even during my winter visits to Paris, people enjoyed sitting outside as the terrace area was quite sunny and truly hanging over the metro entrance with lots of street action. The Brasserie operates a seasonal menu taking advantage of the ever changing supply of high quality produce and other food products. Open 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Just off the main lobby the Defender bar is decorated in the elegant style inspired by Napoleon III and as soothing as you could imagine a room to be. You can chose a quick lunch, teatime or simply enjoy a cigar or the latest house special cocktail.

Anyone who has fought the hustle and crowds of the Paris streets for many hours of shopping and sightseeing will truly enjoy collapsing in one of the comfy chairs or couches here. Like the service and atmosphere, I found their espresso and cocktails superb.

My junior suite with floor to ceiling windows and giant marble bath was superbly decorated so I knew every moment we were in Paris. There is a wide variety of room and suites to choose from. Even floor plans are on their website.

This is a great hotel, convenient location and a staff from the general manager Xavier Le Ru to Marie de Loisy, media relations to housekeeping that will treat you better than your own family. “Crash” Gallagher had an untimely accident during this trip to Paris and the Hotel du Louvre leaped to my rescue, with a kindness and professionalism I will never forget.

Hôtel du Louvre
Place André Malraux – F-75001 PARIS
www.hoteldulouvre.com/
Tél. : (33) 01.44.58.38.38
Fax : (33) 01.44.58.38.01

InterContinental – Le Grand Hotel Paris

Is about a block from the pickup/drop off site for the Roissey Bus from CDG airport. A most convenient and inexpensive way into the center of Paris.

I recommend you a stay at Le Grand perhaps for a month or two and in the white suite at the top of the building over looking Paris . I tried to hide there hoping they wouldn’t notice after the tour but as you can tell it didn’t work.

Here is another of the magnificent and historic Paris hotels, originally built in 1862, the Le Grand Hotel Paris, re-opened after almost two years and a multi-million euro restoration program. Not having seen it before, I can only attest to its luxury and high-tech four star status today.

The lobby demands one “sweep” in with the most majestic manner like some diva or star of the 40’s flinging fox stoles and sequins about. Our favorite tall flower vases with the four foot stems are in evidence here too. A huge clustering on a table, center lobby, begs to be photographed. Like everywhere in Paris this entrance is bustling with the able doormen and front desk keeping a brisk pace.

Perhaps you can arrange your next board meeting, a conference, event or social gathering…a wedding reception in the Grand Salon Opera was my first idea but the concierge was momentarily out of grooms. The hotel can handle 10 to 1600 reception style. On my second visit to the Le Grand Hotel a month later, I whisked a little group of travel writers right into the Grand Salon Opera where they were suitable impressed by the work involved in this magnificent restoration.
Photo with opera building in back

In the renovation 477 guest bedrooms were remodeled to accommodate new exquisite furniture and furnishings. There is also a new exclusive Club floor with 107 Club rooms and 24 suites. My huge windows looked directly at the Opera House.

An I-Spa and fitness center are available but seemed a work in progress on my last visit.

The Hotel’s Le Café de la Paix is reputedly the most famous restaurant in Paris – breathtaking surroundings, lovingly restored – where one can enjoy superb of food and wine but also mix with the rich and famous – while tossing about their fox scarves and in today’s world young very thin girls with lots of bare skin. Lucky for us the Café is open all day and my guest had a wonderful breakfast. During my afternoon espresso the room was filled with business people and socialites enjoying afternoon tea with the delicious Mille Feuilles and Tutu Opéra. Other commitments never allowed time for dinner during our stay.

I peaked into the intimate Bar du Grand located on the ground floor under the beautiful domed glass roof. They serve a wonderful selection of hot & cold canapés and snacks, including smoked salmon, caviar, croque monsieur, pates, salads and club sandwiches. There is a large and comprehensive drink menu all perfect for early evening cocktails or coffee and liqueurs after a night at the Opera.

Here in the heart of Paris, overlooking the Place de L’Opera, directly across from the Fragonard museum, shop and aromatherapy classes and as I mentioned above just one block from the Roissey bus, the InterContinental – Le Grand Hotel Paris is a place you need to stay or at least have tea one afternoon, it’s the experience of a lifetime.

InterContinental Le Grand Hotel Paris
2 Rue Scribe
75009 Paris, France
http://paris-le-grand.intercontinental.com/
Tel: +33 1 40 07 32 32
Fax: +33 1 42 66 12 51
+33 1 40 07 30 30 (reservations)
Le Meridien Etoile Paris

Is strategically located on Paris’ Right Bank, facing the Palais des Congrès, a few steps away from the famous Champs-Elysées and only three metro stops from the business district of La Défense. Porte Maillot metro station is just across the street from the hotel, located underneath a large shopping mall.

This area and hotel were as far to the “Right” as you can imagine from our previous stays above. I loved the Le Meridien Etoile, my room on the Club President floor was like being on the Queen Mary with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

This is a gigantic business style hotel with 1025 rooms including 17 suites spread out over 9 floors under the capable management of Mr. Jean-luc Cousty. The Club President level provides breakfast, private terrace and afternoon snacks and wine.

Interestingly the architect that designed the renovation of this contemporary property was also involved in the restoration of some of the historic hotels in Paris.

My room was very compact (like a 6* cruise ship) with an excellent use of wood, space, light and of course the view. The lobby is sometimes the center of mayhem with a potential of 2000 guests and others passing by. In general the rooms are smaller than some of the high end luxury hotels but no smaller than many boutique hotels in NYC.

Driving up in a cab we initially had the wrong impression of the area – not that it was bad but the Palais des Congres is this huge concrete structure, not the historic ornate Paris we love. Later exploring the neighborhood for dinner and lunch was a joy. Many little cafes and bistros the kind one dreams of finding with the owner in attendance often cooking and reasonable prices. n

Make sure to allow time to visit the hotels famous Jazz Club Lionel Hampton. nConsidered by many and Parisians are jazz experts, to be the best in the city. nThe seats fill fast and reservations are necessary for the shows each night at n10:30pm. In the spring, for the last two years and I’m sure for every year to ncome the hotel has a Jazz Festival. The second edition of Le Méridien Jazz nFestival was April 26 till May 4, 2005 with a program.

Jazz Club Lionel Hampton

* Rhoda Scott Trio (with Ricky Ford, saxophonist and drummer)
* Claude Bollling Big Band (honor to Duke Ellington)
* The Statesmen of Jazz
* Magic Slim and the Teardrops
* Lonnie Brooks Band

Whether you re on a business meeting or touring this is an excellent property nin another area of the city that has so much to see and explore. ”

The metro right across the street and the access to the Air France shuttle to Charles de Gaulle airport every 12 minutes is superb. I think it’s a plot but usually these shuttles start at 6am and my flights are leaving at 7:30am meaning there isn’t enough time to get to the airport, through customs and on board. So frequently I end up cabbing it. This time I could have taken a later shuttle as it turned out my flight was actually the day before.

The Le Meridien Etoile has extensive conference facilities for business meetings and those attending events at the Palais des Congres. There is a well–equipped health club nearby. We ate breakfast on the Club President floor so I cannot speak to the La Terrasse du Jazz next to the interior garden or the stunning L’Orenoc. Using a contemporary décor and flavorings of the world in the wonderful atmosphere just walking through was a pleasure.

Make sure to allow time to visit the hotels famous Jazz Club Lionel Hampton. Considered by many and Parisians are jazz experts, to be the best in the city. The seats fill fast and reservations are necessary for the shows each night at 10:30pm. In the spring, for the last two years and I’m sure for every year to come the hotel has a Jazz Festival. The second edition of Le Méridien Jazz Festival was April 26 till May 4, 2005 with a program that included greats like:

* Rhoda Scott Trio (with Ricky Ford, saxophonist and drummer)
* Claude Bollling Big Band (honor to Duke Ellington)
* The Statesmen of Jazz
* Magic Slim and the Teardrops
* Lonnie Brooks Band

Whether you re on a business meeting or touring this is an excellent property in another area of the city that has so much to see and explore.

Le Meridien Etoile
81 Boulevard Gouvion Saint-Cyr
75848 Cedex 17
Paris, 75017, France
www.etoile.lemeridien.com
USA 1 800 543 4300

Le Jazz Club Lionel Hampton
Hôtel Le Méridien Etoile
http://www.jazzclub-paris.com/
E-mail : jazzclub.etoile@lemeridien.com

And when your feet wear out take a city bus for one of the best views and a chance to be with real Parisians for only EUR1.30. The No. 29 route reaches from the Gare St-Lazare, past the Opéra Garnier, to the heart of the Marais, crossing the place des Vosges before ending up at the Bastille. This is one of the few lines that run primarily on small streets versus major arteries. Hop on a No. 69 bus at the Champ de Mars (by the Tour Eiffel) and ride through parts of the Quartier Latin, across the bridge to the Rive Droite near the Louvre, and on to the Bastille area. The No. 72 bus follows the Seine from the Hôtel de Ville west past the Louvre and most of the big-name Rive Droite sights, also giving you views of the Rive Gauche, including the Tour Eiffel.

Or just hop on any bus and ride it to the end and back again.

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