Hotel de Crillon — If These Walls Could Talk

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.

Paris Rendezvous

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 distraction.

• 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…

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