The last five years each time I passed through Place de la Concorde I gazed longingly out the taxi
window towards the palace in its northwest corner. That seems a long time for a rather recent
Parisian like myself, but in the lifetime of this palace it’s more like a long weekend — just the sort of
thing you would want to spend here at the Hôtel de Crillon.
But all those years behind closed doors were anything but a holiday for the many people hard at
work on the task of remodelling and reinventing the five star hotel. They are the stewards ushering
it into a new era, one that is decidedly contemporary yet embraces its rich past. For that they
deserved our patience.
And alas, this summer the waiting game is finally over. This time my taxi crossed Place de la
Concorde and stopped at the front doors of the Hôtel de Crillon. Now open, I stepped out and
walked the red carpet inside for their grand reopening party to discover the palace’s many
splendours from past and present. If these walls could talk, oh the stories they would tell. But the
staff has spoken on their behalf and let me in on some spectacular anecdotes from the building’s
nearly 300 years to celebrate this new chapter…
• Engraved on the wall of the Jardin d’Hiver is a quote from a letter King Henry IV sent to the
namesake Duke of Crillon, a faithful captain in his army at the time of the religious wars of the
16th century. It reads “Hang brave Crillon! We fought at Arques and you were not there” which is
his playful homage to the Duke and his many victories, welcoming him in into the king’s army.
There words were made famous by Voltaire later on, now etched on the wall here for all to read.
• Up the grand staircase on the second floor is the Salon de Marie Antoinette. Legend has it this
is where Marie Antoinette would take her piano lessons, while enjoying its spectacular view over
the Place de la Concorde where she would later meet her ultimate fate during the French
revolution at the guillotine!
• Back downstairs in the intimate gastronomique restaurant, L’Ecrin, guests can take a culinary
journey through inventive cuisine of Chef Christopher Hache. But the wine glasses on the table
might puzzle you at first, they have no base to stand on — a throwback to an age of royalty and
aristocracy when elite never set their glass down on the table for fear of being poisoned at first
• Below-ground guests can access a dazzling new addition to the hotel, La Piscine. This beautiful
lap pool is the place to take a dip in ultimate style. The skylight to the garden allows for natural
light to illuminate more than 17,000 gold leafed celadon tiles
• On 6 February 1778, the building was used as the venue for the official signing of the first
treaties between the newly founded United States and France, where Benjamin Franklin and
others met with French diplomats to conclude the French-American treaty, the beginning of a
long and strong alliance between our two great nations!
I hope you enjoyed this little tour with me, and step inside the Hôtel de Crillon on your next Paris
visit to discover more…