T H E P E N I N S U L A PA R I S
The Making of a Parisian Masterpiece
The Making of a Parisian Masterpiece
Contents Foreword by His Excellency Sheikh Nawaf Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al-Thani Chairman, Katara Hospitality Foreword by The Honourable Sir Michael Kadoorie Chairman, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited
H I S T O RY Timeline
Across the Centuries
Before The Majestic
A Royal Address
The Birth of The Majestic
The Golden Years
A Very Distinguished Refuge
A Most Majestic Host
Politics, Peace Talks and Rebirth
The Renaissance of a “Grande Dame”
Inspired by the City of Light
THE MAKING OF
Keeping Tradition Alive
A Gallery of Timeless Art
Masterful Glass Artistry
The Birth of LiLi
The Airplane Seeker
T O D AY … A N D F O R T H E N E X T C E N T U RY Tradition Well Served
A New Dimension in Dining
Where Hospitality meets Diplomacy
The Art of Staying in Style 214 The World’s Most Bespoke Hotel Room
A Sense of Wellness
Ready to Rolls
atara Hospitality is proud to be associated with the iconic Peninsula Paris, a hospitality landmark of more than a century.
Our goal is to leave an outstanding legacy for future generations. We use our resources and expertise to invest in heritage properties such as The Peninsula Paris, which represent both a legacy and a future. We take immense pride and pleasure in rejuvenating these iconic hotels, restoring them to their former glory and ensuring their hospitality heritage is secured. True to Katara Hospitality’s portfolio of hospitality gems, this architectural jewel has been fully renovated and brought back to its former glory to become a true Parisian palace in the elegant 16th arrondissement. We have worked with France’s top artisans and craftsmen on four years of meticulous restoration work that has preserved The Peninsula Paris’ authentic French charm and character as well as its grand sense of history. At the same time, the luxurious, sophisticated hotel is equipped with the latest amenities and state-of-the-art facilities that are expected of a European ultra-luxury hotel and a French palace hotel. With its spectacular rooms and suites, expansive terraces, luxury boutiques and the distinguished Peninsula Spa, The Peninsula Paris brings a new level of opulence, distinction and comfort to the city’s world-renowned collection of luxury hotels. As we see The Peninsula Paris emerge as one of the most luxurious destinations in Europe, I am sure it will provide memorable experiences to generations of tourists looking for the very best in French hospitality.
Nawaf Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al-Thani Chairman of the Board Katara Hospitality
t is a pleasure for me to write this foreword on The Peninsula Paris, a historic milestone and the first Peninsula Hotels presence in Europe. The Peninsula brand was first conceived in 1928 with the opening of The Peninsula Hong Kong, a vision supported by Sir Elly Kadoorie, my grandfather and a Director of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, owner and operator of The Peninsula Hotels. Sir Elly had a long connection with France. He built institutions for orphans and war widows on the outskirts of Paris, and worked closely with the Alliance Israélite Universelle to build schools abroad. I am therefore delighted that our first European foothold is set within a palatial property deeply entwined with the major cultural, social and political events of the day, both in France and across Europe. It is fitting that the Peninsula ethos, whose hallmarks of tradition, exemplary service and innovation, were shared by Léonard Tauber, founder of the 1908 Hôtel Majestic. His passion for excellence led him to embark on a global tour to study the world’s best hotels, the result of which was ‘an aristocratic hotel without rivalry’. From 1936 the building took on other roles, one of which was as the International Conference Centre under the control of the French Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. More recently, in 2010 this landmark underwent a painstaking four-year restoration with the installation of modern amenities and the latest technology. ‘The Peninsula Paris - The Making of a Parisian Masterpiece’ chronicles the personalities that helped shape the history of this hotel, as well as the architects, artisans and master craftsmen who have forged its renaissance. As with all Peninsula hotels, it is the dedication of our management and staff that has made The Peninsula a home away from home, whether in Shanghai, New York and now in Paris.
The Honourable Sir Michael Kadoorie Chairman The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited
1864 1868 1906 1908 1914 Ground is broken on three lots that would later become Number 19 Avenue Kléber. Count Alexander Petrovich Basilewski builds his hôtel particulier in Paris there.
Count Basilewski sells his residence to Queen Isabella II of Spain, who chose Paris as her place of exile. She renames it the Palais de Castille and resides there for 38 years.
The Palais de Castille is demolished. Construction begins on Léonard Tauber’s Hôtel Majestic.
The Hôtel Majestic opens its doors to guests for the first time on March 1.
The Hôtel Majestic is taken over for use as a military hospital during World War I. It becomes known as the Majestic Hotel Hospital.
timeline The Peninsula 1946 1958 1973 1991 2009 19 Avenue Kléber is selected as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization headquarters. UNESCO remains there until 1958.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs makes the former Majestic its International Conference Centre as a venue to host large gatherings and high profile events.
Negotiated by Henry Kissinger, the United States and North Vietnam sign the Paris Peace Accords in the Majestic Hotel’s salon, bringing the Vietnam War to a close. It will later become Le Bar Kléber at The Peninsula Paris.
The Paris Accords of 1991 are signed at 19 Avenue Kléber, putting an end to the CambodianVietnamese War and Khmer Rouge civil war.
The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, in partnership with Katara Hospitality, enter into an agreement to create a Peninsula Hotel after the French government sells the building at 19 Avenue Kléber.
1916 1919 1922 1928 1936 The Majestic is cleared, cleaned and opened for business again as a hotel.
Delegates descend on the Hôtel Majestic for the Paris Peace Conference.
Sydney and Violet Schiff host a dinner party to celebrate Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Renard. The guest list, which included James Joyce, Sergei Diaghilev, Pablo Picasso, and Marcel Proust, makes the gathering a historical page in European modernist history.
George Gershwin composes An American in Paris while staying at the Hôtel Majestic.
The French government buys the Hôtel Majestic.
The Peninsula Paris opens on August 1.
S I R e l ly kadoorie 10
Across the CENTURIES Ellis and Elly Kadoorie, two brothers from Baghdad, landed in Shanghai in 1880. Their arrival marked what would become a remarkable, long-term family business...
n 1890, the Kadoorie brothers purchased their first shares in The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Limited, the parent company of The Peninsula Hotels.
To this day, the Kadoorie family remain the majority shareholders of one of the worldâ€™s most exquisite small luxury hotel groups and Chinaâ€™s first luxury hospitality brand. This rich heritage stretches back nearly as far as Hong Kong itself, and the legacy lives on.
Defining luxury, The Peninsula Hotels operates ten awardwinning hotels in the exciting destination cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Beverly Hills, Bangkok, Manila and now Paris. The Peninsula Hotels marked their debut in Europe on August 1, 2014 with a magnificently restored and discreetly modernised heritage building, offering the utmost in sophistication and mystique: The Peninsula Paris.
before The MAJESTIC Prior to becoming the address of an iconic Palace, 19 Avenue Kléber used to boast a most romantic “château”
or The Peninsula Hotels, its history in Paris has just begun, but as a building, the history of The Peninsula Paris is vast. The building’s prolific pedigree is derived from it being the new incarnation of a palatial property that originally opened as the Hôtel Majestic in 1908. Just three years earlier, the building that is now The Peninsula New York was unveiled in Manhattan as the Gotham Hotel
in Europe should have the most layered story of all the company’s properties.
However, the roots of The Peninsula Paris go much deeper, back to a romantic château built for a Russian millionaire before it was demolished, with some of its most beautiful fittings being woven into the fabric of The Majestic.
When conversion of the magnificent, century-old Beaux Arts building at 19 Avenue Kléber to become The Peninsula Paris commenced in September 2010, the interior had been scarred by ten decades of mixed use, which ranged from its original purpose as Léonard Tauber’s grandiose Hôtel Majestic to a military field hospital, German army headquarters and an international conference centre. With such a history, it can be said that the structure serves as a seven-storey documentary of all the political, military and cultural events that shaped Europe over the past century.
The Peninsula hotels throughout Asia and the United States all have fascinating stories to tell, and each one has been articulated through a unique approach to heritage and craftsmanship. It is fitting that The Peninsula’s first hotel
Along the way, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Dmitri Shostakovich, among others, had all been visitors, making Number 19 one of the most interesting buildings in Paris.
grand esca l ier d â€™ honneur Wrought iron and bronze banister by Schwartz et Meurer
A photograph from 1865 of Avenue KlĂŠber shows a Paris that is unrecognisable today
T H E E A R LY Y E A R S For some urban street corners, the events from 2010 to 2014 would have been enough excitement for a dozen lifetimes. For Number 19 Avenue KlĂŠber, four years of restoration add another chapter to a story that began in 1852, when the land now occupied by the hotel was a muddy field criss-crossed by hunting trails. A photograph from 1865 shows a Paris that is unrecognisable today, or maybe a Paris that is recognisable only to the residents of small market towns in the Loire Valley, or those used to living in the proximity of farms. In the image the buildings look medieval and more like the homes of agricultural merchants than the monumental blocks that would soon replace them.
The archive photograph also contains a fragment of another property on the plot that would become Number 19. It was soon to be occupied by the 19th centuryâ€™s equivalent of a Russian oligarch, albeit one with extremely cultured tastes, and it is at this moment that the true aristocratic heritage of The Peninsula Paris begins to take shape.
T H E PA L A C E O F A C O U N T The Paris archives record that in February 1864 construction began on three lots comprised of 19 Rue du Roi de Rome and the western end of Avenue de Sofia, where today the main entrance to The Peninsula Paris is located, and which is now called Avenue des Portugais. The name was changed on 14 July 1918 as a tribute to the 30,000 Portuguese soldiers who fought alongside the Allied troops during the First World War. A plaque on The Peninsula’s wall commemorates this. At the time, the lots belonged to one Count Alexander Petrovich Basilewski, and the archives note that on February 18 construction was to begin of a hôtel particulier with a design by Clément Parent. The combined size of these lots was the length and depth of a city block, a fact that was to prove fateful in terms of the long-term survival of Basilewski’s hôtel.
The man who hired Parent undoubtedly had his pick of the best architects working in the Beaux Arts style. Basilewski was among the richest men in Russia when he decided to build a petit château in Paris. The count’s father had amassed an enormous fortune through his influential role in the court of the Russian Tsar, where he had helped to collect taxes. Alexander took his inheritance from his father and invested it in Russian gold mines, more than trebling its size. When Count Basilewski died in 1878, he was able to leave Princess Souvoroff, his eldest daughter, a fortune that gave her an income of US$ 1,250,000 per year, making her the richest woman in the world. Clément Parent was from a family of architects well known in aristocratic circles. His brother Henri, also an architect, narrowly missed the commission to design the Opéra de Paris building in 1860; he placed second in the competition behind Charles Garnier.
Le Grand Salon of the Hôtel Basilewski
Even with such a rarefied background, Parent must have been surprised by the exacting standards demanded by Count Basilewski, who had conceived of a Parisian residence that would be fit for royalty and that “looked like a château from its façade, a palace in its interior and had all the conveniences that modernity can allow.” By modernity one imagines Basilewski meant proper plumbing. However, hygiene was not the most important goal in Basilewski’s mind. He instructed Parent to create a palace that would be worthy of what the Russian aristocrat called the capital of the world. Included in the plans was a courtyard that could be accessed by six doors, with each door flanked by stone pillars upon which allegorical figures had been carved by Bloche to represent the four quarters of the globe. Basilewski also specified that the building should be two stories high above a cavernous basement equipped with an enormous wine cellar. The building was composed of three pavilions which, according to a 19th century newspaper report, had at their centre “a portico sustained by eight columns of composite order, these surmounted by the heraldic shield of Count Basilewski.”
INSIDE NUMBER 19 These external adornments were meat and drink to Parent, an architect who had cut his teeth doing châteaux renovations for those remnants of the French aristocracy who survived the 1789 revolution, or for nouveau riche citizens who had profited from the Napoléonic era. The building Parent created had a romantic, bourgeois air. It possessed aristocratic and regal flourishes, but mostly its voice was one of wealth and power. This was even more so in the building’s interior, the centrepiece of which was a vestibule built entirely of white marble from Carrara. In the weekly illustrated journal, The Architect, printed in 1869, the author described the building and its owner, “who gave carte blanche to his architect and sculptor to do whatever they liked. The result was a two-storeyed
façade in modern French Renaissance, five windows wide, and flanked on either side by a slightly projecting wing, the whole being surmounted by the usual steeply pitched French roof. The sculpture frieze is ornamented with warlike implements and accoutrements, representing the various military branches of artillery, cavalry, and infantry, whilst the centre bears the arms of the Basilewskis. The central vestibule is of the purest white marble, divided into panels by fluted pilasters. The entrance gates from the street into the forecourt are flanked by massive piers, surmounted by boldly conceived and well-executed allegorical trophies by Bloche, representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America.” It was a structure built to last and to become a monument to its owners. The new building quickly became the talk of Paris, and for the first time the site of the future Peninsula Paris was a glittering magnet for socialites. Parties were held there almost nightly when Basilewski was in town, largely at the urging of his three daughters, especially Princess Souvoroff, née Countess Koucheleff, who was one of the late 19th century’s most famous European social butterflies. She would hold court at Number 19 with her two sisters, the Countess de Galvo and Madame Dublet. Despite the opulence surrounding the Count, all was not well at Number 19. Rumours had been circulating in Paris that Basilewski had been forced to leave Russia because his father had fallen out with the Tsar. There was also gossip about gambling, although there has never been any hard evidence that Basilewski had lost significant sums at the gaming tables. For whatever reason, the Basilewskis were in residence at 19 Avenue Kléber for a remarkably short time. In 1868, the Count sold his expensive new home to Queen Isabella II of Spain, who had been driven from the throne and chosen exile in Paris. When Count Basilewski left his hôtel particulier, he was 82 years old and his age may have been one of the reasons for his sudden departure. Within a few months he had relocated to St. Petersburg. Although he had been away from Number 19 for a decade, the fame of the Hôtel Basilewski remained part of his legacy. On May 22, 1878, The New York Times published a story marking the Count’s death, spelling his name with a “v” in the Russian fashion. It reported that “Count Basilevski, regarded as the richest man in Russia, who had for many years past enjoyed an income of 5,000,000 of roubles, or about US$ 4,000,000 a year, died at St. Petersburg at the age of 92. He had passed much of his life in Paris, where he built the beautiful Hotel Basilevski.” The New York Times had good reason to focus on the hotel and Number 19 Avenue Kléber. Since it became the home of Queen Isabella II, the former Basilewski residence had been transformed from an architectural curiosity into one of the most captivating and talked-about buildings in Paris, where plots and scandals were commonplace. In each one, Queen Isabella herself usually played a leading role. For almost four decades, the corner that is now home to The Peninsula Paris was one of the most watched spots in Europe, and all because of the Queen’s astonishing charisma and weakness for men many years her junior.
a royal address During the course of her exile, Queen Isabella II turned the château into a bustling centrepoint of life in Paris
een Isabella II took up residence on the site of today’s Peninsula Paris in 1868, the same year she was exiled from Spain by the socalled “Glorious Revolution” which created the First Spanish Republic. Her reign as Queen Regent from her infancy in 1830 until her exile had been a period of tumult, the reactionary Spanish Carlists having refused to accept a female monarch. With the clear intent of becoming Queen in exile, Isabella quickly changed the name of the building at 19 Avenue Kléber from the Hôtel Basilewski to Palais de Castille - Castille being the ancient name of the Spanish crown until 1700 - which became the centre of the Bourbon Spanish exile community in Paris. The Palais de Castille became the home of the only sitting monarch in France, and Isabella took to referring to herself as French, much to the delight of the Parisians who flocked to her Palais on Kléber.
Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, an American periodical which took a keen interest in Her Spanish Majesty, reported in 1869 that the Queen’s new residence was “one of the pearls that adorn that rich casket which is called New Paris” and that she had quickly set about making it her own - “the furniture, of severe simplicity, was brought, it is said, from the Le Palais Royal de la Granja de San Ildefonso, near Madrid.” Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper seemed to have good sources, for it also had an intimate knowledge of the building’s interior. “The apartments on the first storey are reserved for the Queen,” writes the paper’s proprietor. “In the other wing of the hotel, separated from the Queen’s chamber by the stairway, are the apartments intended for the young Prince of the Asturias. This palace, no doubt, is not as fine as the Escorial (home of the Spanish monarchs), but nevertheless, it presents a habitation not unworthy of an exiled Queen.”
I n residence Queen Isabella lived in the Palais de Castille for 38 years, giving The Peninsula Paris an unusual distinction - there is no other hotel in the world that can claim to have had such a senior royal figure resident at its site for such a long time. The Queen of Spain did more than turn The Peninsula’s Paris plot into a royal residence - she used 19 Avenue Kléber as the home of a Spanish governmentin-waiting, determined that one day her family would return in triumph, and to pass the time she made the palais a centre of free thinking on art and women’s issues. In June 1870 at the Palais de Castille, she had abdicated in favour of her son Alfonso, in the presence of a number of Spanish nobles. The announcement was followed by what is described as fêtes splendides in the Dictionnaire Historique des Rues de Paris, thrown by Carlos Marfori, a former actor and the latest of Isabella’s many younger lovers. Alfonso was commanded to Paris where he was given the title King Alfonso XII.
Queen Isabella’s study at the Palais de Castille Le Monde Illustré
Queen Isabella remained in residence at the Palais de Castille after Alfonso returned to Spain to take up the reins of his country. At first, she frequently went to Spain. On January 7, 1878 The New York Times reported that Isabella was determined to “rule the country through her son” in order to gratify a large number of private revenges with the result that “for a time the poor boy had a hard time of it, having to bear the bitter reproaches of his mother.”
Her Majesty Queen Isabella purchased the Hôtel Basilewski
I n v ited to the Pa l ais Isabella was persuaded to visit Madrid less frequently, and for the next 23 years she held court at Number 19, following a routine of diplomatic meetings, bacchanalian dinners and occasional trips to “take the waters” at German spas. Her daytime schedule at the Palais de Castille was captured in a memoir by Lillie de Hegermann-Lindencrone, an accomplished singer and wife of a Danish minister. “I was delighted when the Marquesa de Podesta, a lady-in-waiting to Isabella, asked me if I would like to make the acquaintance of the Queen,” she wrote in 1897. “I went to see her at the Queen’s beautiful palace in the Avenue Kléber. The Queen received me in a beautiful room lined with old Gobelins tapestry and furnished with great taste.” As the 20th century dawned, Queen Isabella turned her corner of Paris into one of the city’s most vibrant salons. She would often hold gala balls, to which her normal society friends were not invited, that featured some of the most prominent artists of the day, including many Impressionist painters. In March, The Friends Intelligencer printed a piece from the Paris journal of M.M. Hallowell. “Six o’clock in the evening, at the corner of the Avenue Kléber and the Rue Pauquet... This is the Palace of Castille, thus called since Her Majesty Isabella of Spain, in 1868, here came to shelter her maturity of womanhood, and her decay of sovereignty. A sombre-looking couple has just entered, before which the great iron gate opened, as the officer on the sidewalk raised his hand to the visor of his helmet in making a grand military salute. The Queen is at home. Some visitors are then received, but without formality. Most of the carriages stop before the gate, and guests enter the garden on foot. In the vestibule, however, some ceremony is observed, followed by formal announcements...”
1904 Le Grand Salon of the Palais de Castille prepared for H.M. The Queen Isabella II’s Lying in State
The journalist exclaims upon seeing the Queen that “she is in mourning for her kingdom rather than for her husband. For years, her dwelling seems to have borne this sad livery. Daylight is scarcely admitted.” On March 26, 1904, however, The San Francisco Call ran quite a different story about Queen Isabella’s life at 19 Avenue Kléber on its front page, with the headline: “Ex-Queen Isabella Lives In Royal Style In Paris.” The paper described the Queen receiving dignitaries at the Palais de Castille, having fittings with couturiers and conferring honours on anybody who found her favour. The paper also mentioned the long lines of musicians and Latin Quarter artists who would be shown into her presence and upon whom “she will squander her gold in unlimited quantities, provided they be young, handsome and talented.” The paper noted that any potential male protégé who was “homely in the royal eyes” or “had a grey hair or two” would be ushered out of the side door in a second, but any who passed muster would receive an annual pension in return for frequent visits to 19 Avenue Kléber. The piece in The San Francisco Call was the last story ever to be written about the colourful Queen. Exactly two weeks after it was published, Isabella died of pneumonia, and was laid out in state within the Palais de Castille, beneath an enormous chandelier sheathed in black gauze. With Isabella dead, the fate of the Palais de Castille and 19 Avenue Kléber lay in the balance. On one side stood the United States government who wanted to turn Isabella’s last home into its French embassy. On the other was Léonard Tauber, who wanted to demolish it and build a hotel. It was Tauber who won out, opening the gates of history to the Hôtel Majestic and, a century later, The Peninsula Hotels’ first property in Europe.
h Ă´ te l ma j estic paris The original brochure of 1910 showcasing the elegance of Parisâ€™ most transcendent hotel to date
The bIRTH of The MAJESTIC Tauber’s vision of a modern palace came to life in the form of a sumptuous property, completely unique in its sober elegance
éonard Tauber was born in Vienna on June 6, 1857. The son of a Jewish hotel owner, he was brought up in his father’s small auberge where he learned the basic principles of hospitality. In 1881, at age 24, he moved to Paris and on July 18, 1892, became a naturalised French citizen. For the first nineteen years he was in Paris, Tauber worked his way up the ladder at some of the city’s finest hotels, becoming the administrator of the Hôtel de Calais at 5 Rue des Capucines (now the Hôtel Mansart) and the Vendôme at 1 Place Vendôme. With money he had accumulated during his almost two decades of service and with backing from some of his rich clients, he opened The Regina, his first Parisian “palace hotel” in 1900, with his business partner Constant Bavarez. The Regina still stands at 2 Place des Pyramides across the Rue de Rivoli from the Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre. The Second Empire building was erected on the site of the Louvre’s royal stables and was opened in time for the World’s Fair, the event that brought the Eiffel Tower to Paris.
In 1900, Paris was booming and The Regina was a great success, which helped build Tauber’s reputation as a hotel entrepreneur with modern ideas about hospitality and a fine aesthetic sense. Tauber was praised for the way he used three architectural styles at The Regina, combining arcades typical of the Rue de Rivoli with a sober balconied façade in keeping with its proximity to the Louvre, and an Empire-style roof that placed it in a harmonious relationship with neighbouring buildings. His success spurred him to contemplate expansion. In 1905, his eye fell on the Palais de Castille at Avenue Kléber, which had just become vacant following the death of Queen Isabella of Spain. In the Parisian newspapers the sale of the “sumptuous property” that had been a Queen’s mansion became a matter of daily gossip, mostly because of the “personalities of high position” involved in deciding the Palais de Castille’s fate. For some commentators, the King of Spain was likely to retain the Palais and they reported that Alfonso XII “was longing to take the property in memory of his parents.”
Others insisted that “this property can hardly escape from the hands of the King of Belgium, who was particularly interested in learning about the Palace, unquestionably one of the most beautiful and well-situated in the city, given its proximity to the Bois de Boulogne...” A third party, claiming to be the best informed, announced “the United States government was determined to obtain the Palais de Castille for its embassy in Paris.” If any of these three suitors had prevailed, the Palais de Castille might be still standing today, but according to Le Figaro the high price commanded by the property was enough to deter the United States government and the King of Belgium. Isabella’s son must have concluded that a purchase price of 2,800,000 francs (equivalent to around 8 million euros in 2014) was enough to offset his sentimental attachment to his mother’s beloved palais.
a uni q ue l ocation Tauber was also impressed by the property’s location, being close to the Bois de Boulogne, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and the Trocadéro, but for him the biggest attraction was the size of the Palais’ lot, which included 19 Avenue Kléber plus three adjacent parcels which ran along what is now the Avenue des Portugais. The majority of the space on the lot’s four parcels had been occupied by the gardens of the Palais de Castille. Tauber had plans to grow things, but not flowers. He saw the site as a perfect opportunity to expand his empire to two hotels and at the same time construct “an aristocratic hotel without rivalry” that would, when finished, be the largest hotel in Europe. In 1903, when Tauber hired Armand Sibien to create the splendid new interiors at The Regina, he began plotting the construction of a giant hotel with four times as many rooms and suites as his first hotel. The two men agreed that it should be Haussmannian in style with Beaux-Arts decorative touches. But as with The Regina, Tauber’s biggest concern was that his new hotel should have an enchanting interior with unmatched services.
To realise his dream, Tauber formed a limited company with a group of investors and they proceeded to buy the Palais de Castille and its gardens to build a new hotel to be called The Majestic. The tearing down of Isabella’s palace began immediately on February 17, 1906. As workmen pulled down the rooms, dismantled the porch and broke great holes in the walls, strangers - who had been strictly excluded from the precincts of the palace while it was a royal residence - could now freely walk through the grounds and visit the interior of the building as the wind swept through the punctured walls of the marble halls of the now ruined palace. This story echoes in the making of The Peninsula Paris, not only because of the extraordinary transformation, but also in its aim to give democratic access to marvels previously kept away from the public.
Jardin dâ€™Hiver Decorative trellis by Bocquet Furniture by Alavoine
One of the petits salons of the Galerie KlĂŠber by P-A Dumas
While the Palais de Castille was being demolished (with much of its panelling and fixtures saved for use in the new Hôtel Majestic) and the site was being cleared and prepared for the construction of the new, large Haussmannian-style building with a height of 28 metres, Tauber embarked upon an extraordinary mission. He went on a global tour to study the world’s best hotels. Stopping at major cities, the intrepid hotelier recorded all the latest developments in hotel refinement. He was especially interested in America and its growing number of wealthy travellers taking the “European tour”. Tauber paid several visits to New York, Chicago, Washington and Boston and it’s likely that he included on his itinerary what was at the time one of New York’s most famous hotels: the Gotham Hotel (now The Peninsula New York).
The Dining Hall, by P-A Dumas, today’s LiLi
Tauber’s goal was to “mark down even the smallest progress (in hotel design) that could possibly please an elegant and delicate client.” When he returned, he did the modelling for the hotel’s interiors himself, incorporating all the fruits of his travels combined with his new ideas. In an account of the hotel’s construction published by Draeger Frères in 1910 he stated that his conception of a hotel should “arouse in every traveller the
delicate illusion that he is not a stranger in a foreign city, but rather that he is staying in the Palace of a friend who has created a home with beautiful proportions and rare treasures.” If Tauber’s description sounds like The Peninsula of today that’s no surprise, for he was a man ahead of his time who realised the importance of combining scale with intimacy, a form of magic that all Peninsula properties possess. He also shared The Peninsula’s belief that the fittings of a luxury hotel must be of the highest level of craftsmanship and should be provided with service that is sans pareil. For Tauber, nothing should ever ruin the illusion that his hotel was a magical place where dreams could come true.
Grande Terrasse Kléber Linens from La Cour Batave, the highly fashionable store on the Boulevard Sebastopol
B ui l ding the D ream Tauber would later say that The Regina was his foundation stone and that The Majestic provided the “crowning of his grand concept”. Thus a Queen’s home was removed to make way for what Tauber hoped would be the King of European hotels, and no expense was spared in delivering the embellishments his dream required. As has been achieved with The Majestic’s reincarnation into The Peninsula Paris, blending state-of-the-art technology with exceptional savoir-faire and artistry, Tauber brought master craftsmen from the most skilled artisanal companies in Paris to create a hotel that, with its size and beauty, was “at the same time the most American and most Parisian hotel” in Europe.
Starting with Armand Sibien as his architect, Tauber’s “collaborators” on The Majestic project comprised a breathtaking list of artists and artisans: • The grand dining room, in the Louis XVI style, was designed and executed by Alavoine, a Parisian decorating firm that specialised in conservative interpretations of Art Nouveau interiors and would soon become one of the most popular interior designers in New York City. • Etablissements Porcher provided an impressive number of washrooms. • The American company Otis installed the lifts (still a novelty in early 20th century Paris). • Gifted craftsman P-A Dumas created the panelling in the dining room and the small rooms off the hotel’s gallery. Dumas was a contemporary and colleague of Emile Gallé (a leading exponent of Art Nouveau who designed the Perrier-Jouët champagne bottle) and his work, especially his furniture, now commands high prices at auction. At The Majestic, Dumas was also responsible for creating several exquisitely detailed toilettes des dames and boudoirs. • The hotel’s extensive ironwork was executed by Schwartz et Meurer, the same company that built the Eiffel Tower.
A boudoir, a ladiesâ€™ private sitting room in the Adam style, by P-A Dumas
The purpose of using such skilled artisans was to create a hotel suitable for a new generation of wealthy traveller, and one who was often newly rich. The Hôtel Majestic opened in the same era that Louis Vuitton luggage began to be coveted by rich entrepreneurs, the company having unveiled what was then the largest leather goods store in the world on the Champs-Élysées in 1913. Enormous ocean liners such as the SS France, the Oceanic and the Adriatic (the latter two from the White Star line that would later launch the ill-fated Titanic) had begun to speed from New York to Europe in seven days. Tauber was hungry for this kind of clientele, writing that “...the price of the hotel is reasonable. We can assert that during their stay in Paris, all first-class families can find here advantages they could not find elsewhere with such first-class service.” The Majestic achieved these goals through some famous innovations. To make his hotel profitable for his investors and well-priced for his clients, Tauber built on a grand scale. The finished hotel had 400 apartments and rooms (The Regina only had 117) that were all unique, with “fake luxury, fake comfort and superficial shininess” strictly prohibited. Each room had an antechamber for storage and a bathroom. The biggest and grandest of the hotel’s apartments had a bathroom that was equipped with the fittings previously used by Queen Isabella of Spain in the Palais de Castille
To ensure service was prompt, The Majestic was built to provide “service by floor” with each of the hotel’s five levels of accommodation having its own gallery, including a kitchen for breakfast, telephone connections to the rooms on the floor and letterboxes for guests.
Hall and Grande Galerie, today’s Lobby.
If the guest rooms in The Majestic were superb, Tauber was determined that the public spaces of his new hotel would be transcendent, exceeding the expectations of his increasingly worldly and affluent guests. He was committed to bringing in marvellous decorations and furniture for The Majestic’s salons, and nothing was chosen to be grand for the sake of grandness. Many of the wooden carvings in the public rooms took more than three years to create, and when they were finally installed, they were matched with Oriental carpets from Dalsème, the leading Parisian carpet importer of the 19th century. Unfortunately for Tauber and his investors, in late 1908 the Austro-Hungarian Empire had annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina and its capital Sarajevo. Within six years that event would lead to the assassination in Sarajevo of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir-presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. World War I soon followed and the fortunes of the Hôtel Majestic were tossed onto the tides of fate. This gave Tauber a narrow window in which to establish The Majestic’s reputation as the finest hotel in Europe, and he wasted no time in getting that message to the world.
The Peninsula Paris Book Breathtaking panoramic views of Paris and Avenue Kléber from the Arc de Triomphe
The GOLDENyears It was March 1, 1908 when Léonard Tauber’s Hôtel Majestic opened its doors to guests for the first time
he Paris spring of 1908 was a time of optimism in Northern Europe. The Olympic Games were being held in London and the economy was recovering from the panic of 1907 that had cut the value of US stocks in half. A photograph from the same year captures the mood. A family stands on top of the Arc de Triomphe, the parents looking down Avenue Kléber toward the gleaming new Hôtel Majestic. The future seems bright and the turrets on Tauber’s new rooftop have an air of confidence that suggests an era of prosperity was at hand.
Opposite image: The roof terrace awash with elegantly attired guests, their eyes fixed on a white biplane flying overhead towards the distant peaks of Montmartre
The roof was one of Tauber’s most cherished projects for his new hotel. He had originally submitted plans for the construction of The Majestic on February 16, 1906. The detailed architectural drawings for his “hotel of hotels” reveal that he planned a complicated Mansard roof with three levels above the masonry line of the main structure.
sa l on de l ecture
The decorative work at 19 Avenue Kléber is suggestive of an era of refinement
The Mansard roof style had become an iconic part of the Parisian skyline, its well-known slope and decorative style originally developed by the 16th century French architect Pierre Lescot. With the finest examples of his work found at the Lescot wing of the Palais du Louvre, Lescot’s innovation was popularised in France by François Mansart, a 17th century architect who made extensive use of the technique in his designs, giving rise to the term now used for the garret-style roof, which is an adulteration of his name. The curvature and decorative work at 19 Avenue Kléber is suggestive of an era of elegance and refinement, but Tauber’s desire to execute the roof in this way involved a fierce battle with the Parisian authorities.
RAISING THE ROOF The original plans for the Hôtel Majestic caused consternation with officials from the outset. When Tauber filed his application with the prefect of the Seine, he specified a building that would, once finished, be the largest on Avenue Kléber with “a total
area of 4649.39 square meters… standing in the front of Kléber Avenue, on a facade of 84.53 metres, on the left side of the Rue Pauquet with a facade of 55.01 metres, and at the end of Rue La Pérouse with a facade of 84.53 metres,” as Tauber described his mammoth rectangle in a note to the Paris Mairie on July 8, 1905. The scale of Tauber’s monumental vision and the plans for its tall Mansard roof caused concern at the offices of the mayor and the Seine prefect, who were concerned the building would condemn wide areas of the surrounding streets to remain in shadow for large parts of each day. Tauber had to issue repeated reassurances about the height at which The Majestic would top out. “In every indentation of the roof for the ‘hôtel des voyageurs’ the establishment will have the same floor height and the same main lines of façade, and the owners would follow the decision of the prefect of the Seine in case of disagreement,” Tauber wrote in a letter dated March 10, 1906. “We will not surpass the legal perimeter and we will follow the rules that the city of Paris has established when we construct the hotel.” The city authorities were also concerned about the weight of Tauber’s hotel and its structural integrity. Sibien was able to reassure them on this score - the architect had decided at an early stage to use a new technology in building The Majestic: reinforced concrete. The Belgian autodidact François Hennebique had invented the technique of embedding metal bars into concrete to increase its tensile strength in 1879. Initially coating iron beams in concrete to protect the ironwork from fire, Hennebique soon realised that his approach had enormous benefits in terms of improving the load-bearing qualities of concrete.
Léon Delagrange took up the first woman to fly, the sculptor Thérèse Peltier, circa 1908
At The Majestic, Sibien used both aspects of Hennebique’s system, deploying reinforced concrete throughout the structure for tensile strength and coating metal load-bearing beams in concrete as a fire-retardant measure, an approach called the Hennebique Béton Armé system. The measures taken by Tauber and his builders reassured the city, and thus the plans for the enormous garret that still surmounts the building were allowed to proceed. Tauber insisted upon the Mansard structure so that the hotel could have a magnificent roof garden with views across the rooftops of Paris toward the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. In part this was a decision driven by Tauber’s passion for a new invention: the airplane. In the first decade of the 20th century, France was a country obsessed by flight and Paris was the epicentre of the nation’s new passion. Many of the most astonishing advances in early-20th century aviation were made by Frenchmen, and in the same month that The Majestic opened, French aviator Léon Delagrange laid claim to be the pilot of the world’s first passenger flight in March 1908. His companion in the
tiny biplane was Henri Farman, a painter, inventor, racing driver and aircraft designer who would make the first crosscountry flight in Europe six months later, flying from Châlons to Reims in October, covering the 27 kilometres in 20 minutes. Tauber watched Farman and Delagrange’s antics with delight, along with the test flights of Louis Blériot, who would become the first man to fly the English Channel in 1909. The founder of The Majestic envisioned that the roof garden of his grand voyageur hotel would become a grandstand for watching the birth of aviation, with well-dressed guests watching flights of derring-do by crack French aviators. An illustration in The Majestic’s brochure from 1910 shows precisely what Tauber had in mind - the roof terrace is awash with elegantly attired guests, and in one corner a woman in a picture hat and an Edwardian-style dress and a man in a frock coat lean against the balustrade, their eyes fixed on a white biplane flying overhead towards the distant peaks of Montmartre.
Fountain of the Grand Hall by Alavoine, todayâ€™s Lobby
A G AT H E R I N G P L A C E From the moment it opened, the new Hôtel Majestic attracted an elegant crowd. One of the leading lights was Anatole France, who would be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921. Like other members of the city’s literary and cultural elite, France was drawn to The Majestic’s splendid public rooms, especially the Terrasse Kléber where travellers, socialites, artists and foreign royalty would gather for afternoon tea and early evening cocktails. France made sketches for his famous novels Les Dieux ont Soif and La Révolte des Anges at The Majestic and he was often seen there with his mistress, Léontine Lippmann, who is perhaps better known by her married name of Madame Arman de Caillavet. She organised and hosted a fashionable literary salon, and was the basis for the character Madame Verdurin in Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. The salon met in a hôtel particulier at 12 Avenue Hoche, and its members, including France, de Caillavet, Proust, Léon Blum and Raymond Poincaré (both would later be prime ministers of France, with Poincaré also serving a term as president), Sarah Bernhardt, Lucien Guitry and Antoine Bourdelle, would frequently adjourn to The Majestic to smoke and drink. As the 20th century moved into its second decade, The Majestic adopted a glamorous and stately routine. The day would begin with a dramatic burst of activity in the massive cuisine de l’hôtel on the basement floor, where three ranks of stoves stretching for most of the building’s length would start to bake, boil and fry as breakfast orders streamed in from the restaurant above. Staff in stiff white linen uniforms served guests who chose to eat in the Louis XVI-style dining room where they could gaze on sculpted wooden panels featuring musical instruments, ribbons and grapevines. Thus the pace of the hotel ticked on - guests would finish their breakfasts to promenade along the nearby Champs-Élysées before returning for lunch in Dumas’s light and airy salle à manger or take tea in one of the petits salons in the hotel’s galleried corridor where they could enjoy the floral décor of Bocquet. “One has to be an art critic in order to detail the marvelous decorations and furniture in The Majestic’s salons,” declared the elaborate brochure Tauber published in 1910. “Nothing here is grand for grandness’ sake and sunshine floods into the hall and plays among the leaves of the green plants. The architecture is in the pure Louis XVI style and we can admire beautiful marble fountains by Alavoine, and soft Oriental carpets from the Dalsème collection.”
A review of the hotel in 1910, published in the trade magazine Le Bâtiment Illustré described the scene with clarity. “The architectural character possessed by this important building is exactly what one would hope for from this sort of construction,” wrote Le Bâtiment Illustré’s editor. “The hotel is of sober elegance and efficiently designed. How much we are disturbed at hotels like The Astoria where the entrance and the exit of cars are on the same road. At The Majestic, on the contrary, the architect uses the corner of Avenue Kléber and Rue Pauquet separately for the arrival and departure of voyagers and there is no traffic jam.” The author proceeds to describe what visitors can expect once they disembark from their vehicles.
The massive cuisine de l’hôtel on the basement floor, where three ranks of stoves stretching for most of the building’s length would start to bake, boil and fry as breakfast orders streamed in from the restaurant above
“The guests immediately find themselves in a magnificent hall that stretches along the Rue la Pérouse where they are served with afternoon tea until five clock,” he writes. “The style of this important part of the hotel is that of a rich vestibule without useless ornaments. The curves are decorated simply with consoles and a beautiful garland frames the ceiling. The richness of the diverse pieces is rationally proportional to their destination and the terrace that faces Avenue Kléber reminds people of that which is usually reserved only for the beautiful hotels of the Côte d’Azur.” Tauber’s terrace was a work of art, rare in Paris of the era and especially in a hotel. Then - as now - it made The Majestic a destination for Parisians as well as a memorable experience for guests.
Opposite: At this time, the correspondence on postcards had to be written on the picture side, leaving the back for the address only. The stamp was often displayed on the picture side too
POSTCARDS home In the early 1900s, sending postcards was “à la mode” and the Hôtel Majestic was a popular subject, standing as an icon of Paris’ elegance and refinement
n 1911, as The Majestic celebrated its third anniversary, the hotel was full and business was brisk. According to the famous Ward, Lock & Co’s Paris and Environs guidebook, Tauber’s hotel was ranked as a Series I hotel (“most luxurious and expensive”) alongside the Ritz and Meurice, both of which were much older. The Ritz opened in 1898 as the renovation of a building that began life as a private house in 1706, while the Meurice welcomed its first guests in 1815. The first of its kind, The Majestic was later joined in this illustrious company by the Hôtel de Crillon, which opened one year after The Majestic in March 1909 and the Hôtel Plaza Athénée, which was brand new. The short hotel section in Paris and Environs, which takes up all of three and a half pages, records that rooms at The Majestic cost from 150 to 200 French francs in 1911, which would have been US$ 39 at the time (or US$ 975 to US$ 1,800 in today’s money, depending on which standard of living measure is used). The prices did not seem to deter guests and the hotel hummed with activity. That The Majestic was able to establish itself so quickly in the front rank of Parisian hotels (Tauber’s other property, The Regina, was only ranked as a Series II hotel) is testimony to its fine facilities, especially the rooms and suites, and the level of service, which was established as definitively five-star almost before the paint had dried on the walls of the grand salon.
Reading Room, today’s “Lounge Kléber”
PRETTY AS A PICTURE The early 1900s were the age of the postcard, with the medium being used for the same function that social media performs today. Travellers in Europe, especially Americans, would spend considerable amounts of their leisure time writing cards and it was not uncommon for a diligent tourist with many friends to send dozens. The Majestic was a popular subject for postcards because the exterior of the hotel was imposing and picturesque, plus it could be depicted with the Arc de Triomphe in the background. In 1912 one American visitor sent a card home with a message scrawled over a photograph of The Majestic’s façade. “Pretty hard to summarise Paris on a card,” he wrote. “But modes and rouge prevail as ever. The town reeks of it! Men sit around and talk just like the women do.”
Salon Louis XIV by Alavoine, today’s Bar Kléber Salon Louis XV by P-A Dumas
Such chatter would have been a feature of The Majestic’s Grand Hall or the Salon Louis XIV, where guests frequently sat with friends or took time to write their cards and letters. The Majestic’s stationery featured pale blue paper of high quality with a dark blue crest, which would have been found throughout the Salons on the Rue la Pérouse side of the hotel, which house exquisite boutiques in today’s Peninsula Paris. An illustration in Tauber’s pamphlet Hôtel Majestic Paris from 1910 shows a young woman seated in a high-back chair. She is adorned with a modish hat and a fur wrap and is concentrating on writing a missive with pen and ink.
Ladies at The Majestic would have had every opportunity to prepare themselves to look chic and self-possessed before they descended to the hotel’s public rooms. The salles de bain in the main apartments were fitted with marble and hard wood, and lamps in the Art Nouveau style illuminated the large mirrors over double sinks. In the style of today’s best hotels, sweet-smelling potions and unguents lined the shelf above the sink, and each bottle was tied with a white silk bow.
En-suite bathroom Installation by la Maison Porcher Decoration by Utzschneider
Toilette des dames, in the Adam style
The finest suites were outfitted with a toilette des dames in the Adam style with half a dozen mirrors all around, including a dressing table with side mirrors. A chambre à coucher in one of the large corner suites that occupied the wings of the hotel on the Avenue Kléber side was replete with mirrors and closets, as if standing ready for Monsieur Poiret or Madame Lanvin to fill them with exquisite gowns.
Bedroom (above) and bathroom (below), still featuring Queen Isabellaâ€™s bathtub Poiretâ€™s loose-fitting designs created an uncorseted, slim figure and were de rigueur for ladies staying at The Majestic
VISITORS FROM ABROAD For wealthy American families, the Hôtel Majestic became a preferred destination. The New York Times frequently reported in its society pages news of Americans travelling to Paris. On February 27, 1909, the Times reported Americans celebrating holidays in Paris — Washington’s Birthday and Mardi Gras. “To celebrate the Washington and Lincoln anniversaries, Mrs. Charles B. Weeks and her daughter, Mrs. Fairbanks Smith, gave a tea and reception in the Winter Garden of the Hôtel Majestic this week. The garden was profusely decorated with flags and flowers. The guests numbered over eighty, almost all Americans.” The society news continued with “Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Fabbri and family of New York” who “left the Hôtel Majestic this week in two autos for Biarritz.” Three years later, many Americans visiting the city were writing home to express their excitement at being on the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic, which left Southampton on April 10, having grabbed the attention of the travelling world, not least because she had been described as “unsinkable.” With a first-class suite on the Titanic costing US$ 50,000 in today’s money, it’s unsurprising that many of the North American passengers who had booked to join the ship at Cherbourg before she sailed for Queenstown, Ireland and then New York, spent the last few days of their European tour at one of Paris’ best hotels.
The sinking of the Titanic did nothing to stem the tide of travellers pouring back and forth across the Atlantic. In her diaries, Miss Berthe Leroy, one of the survivors, recorded that over the next three decades she would make the journey three dozen times. The lure of Europe in 1912 was irresistible, especially France and Paris. The popularity of the Impressionists was at its peak, with Renoir and Monet still active, and Americans in search of culture and refinement sought out hotels like The Majestic as bastions of civilisation where culture could be absorbed as readily as sunlight.
By 1913, the guests at The Majestic would have all but forgotten about the Titanic, especially those who were artistically minded and lucky enough to be in residence during May of that year. On May 29, The Rite of Spring, with music by Igor Stravinsky, who was a frequent visitor to the hotel, and choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, had its première at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris under the direction of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
The Louis XVI-style Dining Room, today’s Lobby
The ballet’s modernism provoked one of the most famous classical music riots in history and on May 30, The Majestic’s terrace, dining room and Louis XVI restaurant would have rung with voices praising or condemning Stravinsky’s vision of a brave new future. If the world had continued on this course, the Hôtel Majestic might still be in business today, but history had put its own obstacle in the path of the hotel’s success, one that had a far more destructive power than the iceberg that sank the Titanic.
a very Distinguished refuge All the way throughout what the French later called “la der des ders”, the Hôtel Majestic was truly part of WW1 History
etween 1908 and 1914 a steady stream of American guests arrived in Paris via Cherbourg to reward Tauber’s vision, at least until the nature of the hotel’s visitors suddenly changed.
In 1914, six years after The Majestic opened, a wealthy American banker named Edward Toland arrived at the hotel from the United States via Liverpool. His journey had been made by ship, but in steerage on a freighter, and the last thing he found at Tauber’s Parisian palace was joy and comfort. Toland first set eyes on Paris in the early dusk of September 1914. The First Battle of the Marne had happened between September 6 through 12, 1914, and the German army had come within 30 miles of Paris. In his book The Aftermath of Battle with the Red Cross in France he described his journey through the heart of the city. “Paris was deserted,” he wrote. “Nearly all the stores were closed and the windows boarded up. When I turned into the Avenue de l’Opéra it was empty – just one cart between the Opéra and the Louvre, and not a soul on the sidewalks.” Toland had been educated at Princeton and had spent four years working as an engineer before becoming a banker in 1912. The onset of the First World War had
1914 put the banking business on hold and Toland decided to travel east from New York “… to see the excitement and the French people in war-time.” If Toland’s attitude seems callous, he was, in practice, anything but. This was a young man swept into the streams of war, who soon found himself working among gravely wounded men. Within a few hours of arriving in Paris, Toland was introduced to Mrs F., a hospital superintendent. She described for Toland how the Parisian officials did not want wounded men brought to the city, but they were coming anyway. She described how hundreds of injured soldiers from the front in Flanders were lying on filthy straw in railway sidings. Meanwhile officials debated the men’s fate, fearing that Paris might yet fall into a state of siege if the Germans advanced south or that the sight of gravely injured soldiers would damage morale.
The solution, for some, initiated by wealthy individuals and supported by the Red Cross, was found of private temporary hospitals housed in hotels. Mrs F. offered to take Toland to one such facility. “She was on her way to The Majestic Hotel Hospital on the Avenue Kléber near the Arc de Triomphe, and I walked over with her to see it.” A British doctor, Leslie Haden-Guest, founded The Majestic Hotel Hospital and some accounts say he was a “millionaire socialist” who rented the hotel and converted it to a hospital as an act of charity. The real situation is muddied. Haden-Guest served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in the Boer War, World War I and World War II, winning a Military Cross. He was the founder of the Anglo-French Committee of the Red Cross and the Order of St John. After the war he became the Labour Member of Parliament for Southwark North and went on to enter the House of Lords on February 2, 1950 as Baron Haden-Guest, serving as a Lord-in-Waiting to the King. It is noted that he chose The Majestic because of the size of the hotel’s public rooms. His staff at the outset was British, hand-picked and transported to Paris by boat and train. Zeppelins flying above 10,000 feet dropped bombs which struck fear in the Parisian population. The city was in state of suspended animation, and it was not a good time to be a hotelier in Paris.
“I left the [Majestic] hospital at seven o’clock in the evening to go home and get some sleep,” wrote Toland in early September 1914. “The Métro was not running, so I walked from the Étoile to the Opéra, where I lived. There was hardly a soul in the streets; hardly a light visible. The Place de la Concorde was as dark and still as a country churchyard, save for one huge search light on the top of the Hôtel de Crillon, which swept the sky for German airplanes. A rather sharp contrast to the Paris of last year.” Lord Leslie Hadesn-Guest 55
A VIVID DEPICTION Photographs of The Majestic Hotel Hospital show nurses and doctors with a well-to-do appearance posed in starched uniforms alongside men who seem destined to make a full recovery. The hotel hospital had its share of girls with an aristocratic background. One such was the daughter of the Earl of Rosslyn: Lady Angela Selina Bianca St Clair-Erskine Forbes. “At Dieppe, we were met by a friend of Sarah Wilson’s, who gave us heartrending accounts of the conditions for the accommodation of the French wounded,” she wrote in her book Memories. “It was pitch-dark when we arrived in Paris. I went to the Hôtel Majestic, where the hospital was installed and where I was to have accommodation. Supper was ready for us, and we went into the barely-lit passages through smells of chloroform and iodoform, into what was the staff’s mess-room.” Toland discovered a similar reality on his first night at The Majestic. “Just as we arrived, a half a dozen more wounded men came in an ambulance,” he wrote. “I was detailed to hold a delirious Prussian officer who had a bad head wound.” He describes doctors and nurses scurrying among the grand salons and dining rooms of The Majestic to deal with injuries. Laurence Binyon takes up Toland’s account in his book For Dauntless France, which offers a comprehensive account of Britain’s aid to the wounded in France between 1914 and 1918. “These were nightmare times,” he writes. “Here was a country suddenly called to fight for its life and to care for its wounded at the same time. French, English, Belgian and German wounded were brought indiscriminately to The Majestic and the head surgeon would frequently operate on five or six cases during the night after twenty operations during the day.” The city continued to be attacked with depressing frequency, and Toland wrote of the war knocking on the door of The Majestic Hotel Hospital.
Operating staff of The Majestic Hotel Hospital Sept, 1914
“Four bombs were dropped on Paris at noon today,” wrote Toland. “One of them landed in the Avenue du Trocadéro, about 300 yards from the hospital. It also came quite close to Mr Herrick, the American Ambassador.”
With just six years of earnings under its belt, The Majestic was facing an indefinite period of closure and requisition. The money invested in fixtures and fittings was making a nil return and the expensive spaces created on the public floors were being battered by the ghastly routines of a hospital. Surprisingly, The Majestic only spent five months as a refuge for the injured, as by January 1915 it was decided that Paris was fully provided with hospitals. The Majestic was cleared, cleaned and opened for business again at the beginning of 1916, although the war was never far from its doors or the lives of its principal characters. Many of the hotel’s staff were conscripted to the front and substantial numbers did not return. One of the most profound tragedies afflicted Armand Sibien, The Majestic’s architect. In 1914 his son Pierre Sibien, also an architect, was “gloriously killed in Alsace” as reported in Le Figaro. In the same year, his other son, Maurice, was wounded and taken prisoner by the Germans. Armand himself, who fought so hard to make Tauber’s vision a reality, died in February 1918, nine months before the war came to an end, while his sole surviving son was still being held by the enemy. On November 11, 1918 the war came to an end and The Majestic’s owners hoped the hotel would return to the prosperity of the pre-war era. Their relief did not last long. By January 1919 the property was again requisitioned and its staff cast out upon the street.
The hundreds of rooms in the Hôtel Majestic were full of wounded soldiers, tended by nurses and doctors
With Germany’s decision to seek an armistice, arrangements were set in place to convene a peace conference in Paris, and the British delegates took up their quarters in The Majestic and the Hôtel Astoria.
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munitions, techniciens. « alliés » que nous voulons nous concernon, sans de l'enter, mais avec les représentants et du pays. Ig. guerre ouverte , Parlement semble du Prolétariat Il est mondial. et déclarée au gouvernement de fait de en possible que nous soyons davantage la Russie. ; C est pour cela qu'on deman; accord avec des camarades allemands ou de de3 volontaires « pour l'Orient », et autrichiens des socialistes miqu'avec alors que rien ne justifie c'est pourquoi, nistres ou anciens ministres dans des cala présence de quatre à cinq millions de binets le Verra On là-bas. â sous les drapeaux bourgeois. les AlleFrançais mands libéré cent cinquante ayant diPaul FAURE. â. la démobilisation visions se fait avec une lenteur Il faut bien désespérante. des troupes !
Le plus écoeurant est l'hypocrisie apportée par le gouvernement pour justifier cette aventure contre-révolutionnaire. Il y a quelques M. Pisemaines, chon nous déclarait : « Il n'y aura pas . d'intervention militaire en Russie. Vous n'y Comment pensez pas! songerionsnous à imposer une nouvelle à guerre nos bravés soldats, qui ont fait des sacri-inouïs pendant ans. plus de quatre
être rassurés ». Puis, le 29 à la tribune de la Chambre, : « Les gouvernements alliés
'Vous.pouvez décembre, 'il déclarait ne veulent
dans la polipaai intervenir de la Russie ». Et, quelî « Le plus loin, il disait être venu 3e nous substi-
tique intérieure ques phrases moment peut tuer
tachements de missions, d'une armée '
de dépar l'envoi militaires, d'instructeurs et et de faciliter la création
ukranienne indépendante, face aux bolcheviks ». â¢ â¢
les Alleque procédaient après la paix de Brest-Litovsk. de Appelés par les blancs d'Ukraine», des provinces baltes et de FinPologne, ils envoyaient lande, des détachements des instructeurs militaires, et des mismands
sous prétexte sions, de rétablir l'ordre. L'Entente a-t-elle assez crié contre ce c'est jésuitisme! elle qui Aujourd'hui, estime est venu de se que le moment substituer ont assez
aux Allemands, à faire chez eux.
trêve d'équivoque. Donc, Nous sommes, bel et bien en guerre avec la Russie révolutionnaire. et un Cinquante mois d'une un guerre atroce, million autant morts, de muticinq cent mille lés, la force de notre productrice pays
réduite d'un gros tiers, tout cela ne suffit point à la monomanie do impérialiste no3 dirigeants. La guerre avec l'Allema-
gne étant virtuellement â¢une nouvelle guerre,
donner une pour raison d'être à tous ces offimaintenus ciers qui ne veulent les point abandonner du temps de guerre, et pour prébendes aux fournisseurs des armées de permettre te'enrichir encore sur les dedavantage niers
peuple les opprimé, rigeante
Et tout cela, sous prél'ordre En en Russie! des légitimes colères sauver, si longtemps et si durement
privilèges et capitaliste
â- On mande
EN PROVINCE LA LUTTE N'EST
14 fr 18 fr.
36 fr. 35 fr.
. ... «»01S
estime interallié Le hauî commandement poloque les deux divisions indispensable en Pologne naises qui seront transportées de dé* nombre d'un certain soient appuyées d'ocalliés, qui leur permettent ltachements de de fer le chemin militairement cuper les ainsi et de maintenir à Thorn Dantzig avec l'Occident, communications assez tôt, Si le Comité de guerre s'achève de la Conférence de la procédure l'examen (Paris-Midi.] immédiatement. sera repris
â C'est avec deux pièBâle, 13 janvier. de siège que les gouverneces d'artillerie de Ville de l'Hôtel mentaux se sont emparés un Il y avait eu auparavant de Spandau. _ d'asLes troupes de mitrailleuses. combat à traun chemin ensuite saut se frayèrent de l'Hôde police, voisine vers la Préfecture tel de Ville. Lés Spartaciens s'y défendirent extrême, de sorte que avec un acharnement fois. dut être recommencé plusieurs l'assaut
LE RENOUVELLEMENT DE V
â Une dépêche de Hulle, Bdle ' 13 janvier. 'manifestation dit du U janvier, qu'une hier après midi, a été .organisée, monstre des contre la domination pour protester de la guerDes mutilés locaux. Spartakistes poussaient re, en tête de la manifestation, et. de Scheidemaun en- l'honneur des, vivats Des soldats armés ont essayé d'emd'Ébert, Une lutte avec le cortège d'avancer. pêcher à main et des mitrailleuses des grenades et dos Il y a eu des morts s'est engagée. i blessés.
Le mouvement ouvrier en Argentine
« Les échos de la campagne socialiste nous arrivent. Ils pour la démobilisation Est-ce qu'on .va nous laisnous réjouissent. ser pourrir dans ce pays, où le regret du ciel de France nôtre taquine par moment ? cafard
se sont produites nouvelles bagarres % victi; il y a eu de nouvelles aujourd'hui mes.
â¢La vie est chere, 'le ravitaillement intermittent et défectueux. Nous (manquons soude pain. Les biscuits, vent qui le remplades maux d'estomac. cent, nous donnent Un petit fait assez typique : " U n'y a ici « qu'un dentiste au militaire, qui travaille « gré de ses caprices. J'ai dû avoir recours « à un dentiste civil pour la pose d'un den» tier. Goût â¢<150 piastres. J'ai maintenant u.de quoi casser mes vieuxbiscuits et ma « pauvre bourse est à sec. » â des ferL'organisation Washington. a nommé une délégation miers américains à Paris. de sept membres, qui se rendront avec là Conférence Ce voyage est en relation de la Paix.
se réunit, fois, à Paris, Pour la première le conseil de à l'hôtel Majestic, aujourd'hui, en vue d exabritannique, impérial guerre les décisions miner qui vont être prises par interallié. de guerre le conseil
10 janvier./â La grève est lé malaise Grand qui en ré-i continue. a pu pasocialiste suite. Seul un journal On assure qu'il y a eu une centaine raître. dans la collision de morts qui s'est proles chemins de hier.- Les tramways, duite de ciront cessé totalement fer. les voitures est entièrement Le commerce paraculer.
on le sait, n'a été prise Aucune décision, 1 arauxquelles hier, au sujet des conditions être prolongé. mistice pourra à laquelle les états, Après l'étude technique ces ce matin, interalliés procèdent majors ne seront arrêtées que cet aprèsconditions midi par le Conseil supérieur. seront d'ordre conditions Ces nouvelles et maritime. financier économique,
l'End'eux-mêmes, lequel pour poser faire la guerre. Elle constente affirmait certain un danger pour notre paun'aura qui, la paix rétablie, pays,
pour relever pas trop de tous ses enfants sa détresse. EHe et atténuer ses ruines est enfin une honte pour une démocratie et de fière de son passé révolutionnaire ses luttes voir
que de se l'oppresseur, à son tour en agent de
la contre-révolution. Libre d'accepter vernants lent nous
à la manque aux républicains d'un coeur léger que nos gouet ravala guerre perpétuent nous socialistes, notre pays;
à ne point
tou lu luuu
Oïr. 8 fr. Ai peiti
sentiments de des classes, quels sont les véritables à de démocratisme l-t bourgoisie, même teintée l'égard de la classe ouvrière ? Le Comité central qui s'est rangé depuis 1914 parmi les adversaires les plus dangereux du proléde s'inceux qui donnent l'illusion tariat'socialiste, téresser à sa cause, est décidé à exclure de la Li-
gue les membres qui, au meeting de la Bellevilloise, ont protesté contre le passage de l'ordre du jour étaient de M. Basch affirmant que nos soldats mortf pour la liberté. tendancieusement Interprétant pour les besoins de les des interrupteurs, leu cause les sentiments de s'indigner et de membres du Comité feignent comme une considérer le geste des protestataires envers les morts, une injure faite marque d'hostilité
à leur mémoire. . » que des liS'il n'y avait eu à la « Bellevilloise serait réduit aux proportions d'une gueurs, l'incident d'ordre intérieur affaire ; mais ce sont les militants ouvriers qu'on avait conviés à venir applaudir Basch, ce sont ces militants qui ont manifesté leur et c'est bien eux, que, dans sa déconvehostilité, nue et derrière la minorité central cherche à atteindre.
de la Ligue,
En fait d'injure, il n'y en eut d'autre que celle d-. Basch au bon sens et h la vérité historiqueâ¢ Nul» en effet, n'a le droit d'assurer que nos soldats sont
â¢périmés, il a fait connaître au pays la raison pour il considère que nos soldats sont morts : laquelle c'est pour m nouveau partage du monde au profit du capitalisme des nations alliés. Nous n'en avions jamais douté. Dans la tragique lutte de classes qui continue la et met en péril le capitaguerre des impérialismes
lisme mondial, la bourgeoisie a un intédirigeante rêt évident à tromper les masses et à présenter comme un régime de liberté celui qui, en réalité, assa' re et étend sa domination. Les démocrates-idéalisa
tei leur facilitent d'ailleurs la là. singulièrement ,phe en répandant, sous le patronage de M.Wilson, l'idée à une Société qu'il suffit des Nations. de les effets de l'anarchie discipliner capitaliste pour inaugurer une ère de paix et de liberté.
Pour nous et très certainement pour les perturbateurs du meeting de la « Bellevilloise », la liber. té ne peut résulter que de rétablissement d'un ordre social entièrement basé sur la supnouveau, privée. Aussi pression de la propriété longtemps qui cet ordre social n'existera pas chez nous et sera mis en péril par nos propres dirigeants là où il existe, nous nous refuserons à leurrer les masses en leur donnant l'Illusion que les bénéficiaires du régime capitaliste Liberté.
une série de nouvelles Tpute intéressantes sont arrivées ces jours-ci au sujet de la Russie : d'abord la réponse de M.; à l'Angleterre, Pichon puis la note sèchej et catégorique de l'agence Reuter annonçant que la Grande-Bretagne n'enverrait plus de soldats à Arkhangel ; puis la discussion du Congrès américain sur le rôle des troupes de l'Union dans cette ville et aux alentours. Tout cela tendrait à prou* ver que les Alliés et associés de la France* le Japon qui évacue la Sibéy compris rie, n'ont l'intention de prendra point l'offensive le bolcheplus avant contre Enfin on nous a révélé que visme. et Litvinof Tchitcherine avaient essayé, 3 maintes de négocier la pai* reprises, avec l'Entente et que, chaque fois, ils onï trouvé d'Orsay porte close. Notre Quai Il couvre, est irréductible. exalta! inspire, les déclarations de M. Noupassionnées lens. En même abri au* temps ,il donne néo-Coblentzah.
sut le recent incident Nom avons déjà public do la réunion de la Ligue de» Droits de l'Homme et du citoyen des minoritaires me communication Loriot nom notre camarade Basch. Aujourd'hui, : suivante adresse la communication ' de la Ligue des Droits Les récents incidents aux prolétaires de l'Homme comprendre feront-ils qui fondent encore des espoirs sur la collaboration
F. LORIOT. à peine représente russe. les 2 % de la population nous élever avec Nous ne saurions cette aventure critrop de force contre Elle est une atteinte minelle. flagrante à disdu droit des peuples au principe Franklin-Bouillon,
Ledifférend s'aggrave entreleChilietlePérouLES COBLENTZAIS
car nul ne les a consultés et morts pour la Liberté, du Ravitaillement ministre M. Boret, de comet aucun d'eux, depuis quatre ans et demi, n'a pu maison d'une grosse possesseur a exprimer d'autre opinion que celle du pouvoir. la guerre, qui, Pédant merce de grains, a éprouvé Les soldats n'ont connu de la vérité que ce qui comme en temps de paix, marché à Paris le prix de gros de était favorable au gouvernement ou ce qu'il n'était le besoin d'élever la viande. et, à aucun mopas possible de leur dissimuler, le prix du de gros des Halles, ment, ils n'ont pu dire si la victoire de ceux qui les Âu pavillon de a monté à prendre les armes se du porc et du mouton contraignaient confondait veau, du â le prix la livre, centimes dans leur esprit avec la victoire de la liberté. cinquante se m<?t Et' le boeuf h 30 centimes. Mais s'ils n'ont pu parler, M. le ministre des pavillon se vi- / Les étables à regorger d'arrivages.. une étrangères l'a fait pour eux. Avec Affaires dent. , . de 385 'députés autoritê renforcée par l'approbation M. Boret est content.
â L'agitateur Bitte; 13 janvier. russe alde-k a adressé un appel aux Spartakistes leur annonçant qu'une armée rus. lemands, se- est en rouie pour Berlin. de l'AlD'autre part, de toutes les parties seraient en rouie des Spartakistes lemagne, A Hanovre, deux mille d'envers la capitale. d'un train et font tre eux se sont emparés route vers Berlin.
des travailleurs du monde.
â On de 13 janvier. Londres, télégraphie D'AUJOURD'HUI LE PROGRAMME : Lima au Times, à la date du ... janvier le « Les Péruviens à quitter continuent n'a. suffi à épuiser le d'hier La fournée et de la perséen raison des outrages Chili, de guerre, ni de ni du comité programme 2.000 fugitifs cution dont ils sont l'objet. la Conférence préliminaire. à Wollendo et. à Callao pendant sont arrivés techà dix heures, les délégués Ce matin, » heures. les dernières quarante-huit séance pour fixer définitiveniques tiennent de Péruviens sont arrivés Une vingtaine de l'arde prolongation ment les conditions et de la semaine i à La Paz dans le courant les ministres franA cette séance, mistice déclarent avoir été maltraités par la popuhier, MM. pu être entendus çais qui n'ont lace chilienne. Clémentel, Loucheur, fourklotz, Leygues, commerles maisons au Chili, Partout, les rapports, niront qui leur ont été demanont été foret américaines ciales anglaises dés. ceux de leurs employés cées de congédier séance à de guerre Hier, plu. prendra d'origine Le Comité qui étaient péruvienne. d'en et américains sont sieurs deux heures eï demie, avec l'intention citoyens anglais Foch a donné ils ont été forcés de quità maréchal arrivés Callao le ; En effet, finir. â leur symet à la commister le Chili, à M. Erzberger exprimé rendez-vous pour avoir à à l'égard du Pérou. le 14 janvier, d'armistice sion allemande pathie â sa femA Arica, un magistrat . péruvien, Trêves. et me et ses enfants ont été jetés à l'eau M est très probable qu'à cette séance avec des gaffes. Cette famille faillit frappés militaire une éventualité sera envisagée avant et d'être secourue tout entière périr : celle de sur un steamer. de la plus haute embarquée importance et Arica sont mainteOn dit que Tacna armée P assistance que (es puissances absolu des autorités nant sous le contrôle à la de prêter se proposent de l'Entente chiliennes. militaires (Information.) -â¢ â¢
du Vorwaerts, Découragés par la prise les Spartakistes qui occupaient l'imprimede rie Ullstein avaient essayé, eux aussi, de s'en aller et avaient demandé négocier armes la démission avec leurs el réclamé de Scheidemann et d'Ebert. la Les gouvernementaux ayant exigé reddition les Spartakistes pure et 'simple, ont profité de l'obscurité par pour s enfuir les toits vers la Charlottenstrasse, perdant cette manoeuquelques prisonniers pendant vre. ont pénétré les gouvernementaux Quand dans le bâtiment, celui-ci était complètele Les Spartakistes ment évacué. occupant de de l'agence ont essayé bâtiment Wolff ; ils ont fini par poser les mêmes conditions et simpleâ¢ se rendre, eux aussi, purement ment. â (Havas.)
LA CONFÉRENCE PRÉLIMINAIRE
Quelle est la situation et l'état d'Ame des troupes qui font partie du corps expéditionnaire de Palestine et do Syrie, de la lointaine de nos chauSyrie, où l'impérialisme vins effrénés ? Un de nos jette son dévolu amis d'un de brancardiers de Beygroupe routh à ces questions : répond
Voilà plus de quatre mois que notre dé linge de corps. pe n'a pas touché en lambeaux. avons des chemises
13 janvier. Bdie, : fort, 12 janvier
A BERLIN En route pour l'Internationale Ebert triomphe
du terriet formations dans les dépôts des volontaires il est demandé toire, Souvent, lorsque personne pour l'Orient. on menace de faire à l'appel, ne répond d'office. Ses désignations Ainsi,
LA GUERRE centre laRussie Il
AU HOMÉRO 00
PARIS ET PfiQÏIHCE ET fi
BÉDACTEUMN CHEF» PAUL
8fr. 8 fr. 10 fr.
DIRECTEUR POLITIQUE i
: 8 mois
PARIS (Setno etS-st-O.) DEPARTEMENTS......
LÊLTPSOHB: : Ntlpopal-Parte TÊLÊSRAPHIQUI
A NOS LECTEURS Nous prions les groupes el nos amis qui nous passer de nouvelles désireraient comconcernant le numéro mandes du spécial de CLARTE, de le faire très ralancement pidement. Le succès a dépassé toutes nos prévisions, d'ici il nous sera difficile, quelques jours, de leur donner satisfaction. Adresser les commandes à VAdministrade 7 fr. 50 le 100, à nos buteur, au. prix 8 fr. 50 franco. rcaux, Nous nous excusons également auprès 'de nos camarades de province de ne pouvoir à leur demande répondre favorablement d'envoi de tracts CLARTE. Le annonçant tirage en est épuisé depuis samedi malin. â Les raids d'aéroplanes ou do Londres. par voie de Zeppelins et les bombardements les permer oqt causé) en Grande-Bretagne î tes suivante» Sol: tués. 1.260 ; blessés, 3 -590. Civils dats : tués, 310 ; blessés, 551. Les femmes et les enfants figurent poul: suivants ies chiffres Tues. 708 ; blessés, 1.983,
Nous avons vu arriver un à un ces mes. sieurs. Tels jadis les Plignac, les Lamballe et autres caudataires des comte? et de Provence d'Artois dans les seigneuries rhénanes, les représentants de la réaction affluent à Paria., petrogradoise de la contre révoqui devient la capitale lution universelle. Parmi ces émigrés, î! en est de l'ancien régime et du nouveau â des hommes qui n'étaient passés an nouveau mieux l'étouffer etl que pour â« l'ancien pour rétablir plus aisément Séparés en apparence par les barricades uns et les autres sei de mars 1917, les et ils tienréconcilisés sont bien vite nent en réserve quelque grand-duc, qu'ils tsar demain. acclameraient seraient 'Ils ont estimé qu'ils bien plus se coalisaient. Nous forts s'ils aurons des Coblentzais ainsi la Fédération dont en scène seront MM. les grands metteurs et le prince Lvof. L'ex-ambassaIsvolski deur de Nicolas II et le premier président! de la Révolution du conseil ont battu lïf de tous les fuyards, et ils -ont rappel même incité gros quelques personnages restés en Russie à rejoindre qui étaient Etl ce singulier corps expéditionnaire. â l'homme M. Sasonof voilà pourquoi de Constantinople qui a négocié l'affaire â est convié à quitter II Ekatérinodar. faut croire que sa présence n'y était pas bien utile. U Les agences annoncent bruyamment d'un comité russe de Paris, constitution la Rus. représenterait qui probablement da sie à titre officiel devant la Conférence
la Paix. Nous savons quels éléments composeNous savons par suite! ront ce comité. C'est un ne mérite aucun crédit. qu'il de personnages de figurants, conciliabule de Koepenik où les capitaines comiques, de la Russie actuelle. les faux Dimitri dire, jouer leur rôle, prendre Laissons-les s'écrit ailleurs,; de grands airs. L'histoire des masses. par la volonté PHEDON,
At The Majestic, they lived, worked and played. “We live in the magnificence of Hôtel Majestic, which is justly named. It is built of handsome stone and with large rooms all on the grand scale. Our offices are opposite in the Hôtel la Pérouse. We are carefully protected by men from Scotland Yard,” Sir John Latham wrote in a letter to his wife, Lady Ella, on Jan 21, 1919. Steven Lehrer recounts in his book Wartime Sites in Paris the scene inside the Hôtel Majestic at the time: “Journalists hustled through the corridors after stories and secretaries scurried about with papers. Diplomats from a score of countries loitered in the ornate lobby. Businessmen tried to pull strings or jostle for advantages. So intense were the intrigues that British servants temporarily replaced the regular hotel staff so as to reduce the risk of leaks and espionage.”
les affaires de PoP. S. â Surveillons nous incitatif logne. Les articles du Temps de notre vigi. nous départir à ne point lance.
Xa Seine MAIS
«n La Seine a baissé de 75 centimètres inondées avait deux jours. Les rues qu'elle vont redevenir de Paris dans la traversée si toutefois, après une embellie praticables, pas sous la d'un jour le fleuve ne remonte à tomber qui recommence pluie abondante des mentir les hydrograet fait prévisions : phes officiels. n est de fer d Orsay La ligne du chemin du pont Miraabords inondée qu'aux les tra, sur la rive gauche, Elus eau. On active, à rendre l'élecdestinés vaux de réparation de Pa< de ce quartier aux habitants tricité â¢â¢ ris. meilleure aussi dan» situation devient La la banlieue. ' "' : â -c ' j
maiâ s'atténue, La crise des inondations la crise du pain, qui résulte en partie de la ne s'améliore" pas. première^ De nombreuses dans pluboulangeries, ont fermé hier, sieurs arrondissements, du matin, pour no' rouaprès neuf heures toute, vrir que dans la soirée, sans pouvoir du pain à volonté. fois donner savoir S nous fait L'Intendance qu'elle à grand renfort de camionprésent, jusqu'à distribué aux boulangeries nage militaire, dami ses four100.000 kilos de pain fabriqué mais 'il y a h Paris, nils. Cent mille kilos, à l'heure de plus de i millions présente, Son aide serait plus efficace enpersonnes. avaient le récore, si la ville et la banlieue oui percommunale, de l'autonomie gime aux municipalités de réquisitionner mettrait du pain. En attenet de fabriquer la farine s'institue dans le gâchis sant que ce régime nous : « "Vive; nous disons, militaire actuel, !» la Commune La question est de savoir s'il y a de Ia£ de la bonne farine en assez grande farine, « Craignez-, nous disait un meuquantité. le temps ou nier, de voir bientôt reparaître de manger les Parisiens étaient un obligés affreux les estomacs mélange qui délabrait » Si le meunier dit. la vérité, c'est débiles. cache Ce n'est pea la sienne. M. Boret que â¢â¢â¢ fois que cela lui arrive. lô première
Augustus John and Sir William Orpen, the official painters to the British delegation during the Conference, stayed at The Majestic, and recorded the scenes there. “The Hôtel Majestic is a very lively place,” Sir Maurice Hankey, the Secretary of the British delegation, told his wife. “All the most beautiful and well-dressed society ladies appear to have been brought over by the various departments. I do not know how they do their work but in the evening they dance and sing and play bridge!” Lavish evening parties shocked some British officials. “The dance at The Majestic last night was an amazing affair – a most cosmopolitan crowd – the last touch was put on it when Lord Wimborne arrived with a crowd of wonderful ladies,” one member of the British delegation noted in 1919. “People rather resent this invasion of The Majestic on Saturday nights, and steps are being taken to put a stop to it, otherwise the thing will become a scandal.”
The British Council of War in Paris featured in Le Populaire
Dinner parties, concerts and afternoon teas were held in the hall of the Hôtel Majestic, which the official British observer Sisley Huddleston noted, “made peace-making a fairly pleasant job.” “It was a British empire delegation,” writes Margaret Macmillan in her book Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World. “With well over 400 officials, special advisers, clerks and typists, it occupied five hotels near the Arc de Triomphe. The largest, and the social centre, was the Hôtel Majestic, in prewar days a favourite with rich Brazilian women on clothes-buying trips.”
Huddleston wrote that the strictest guard was kept, “lest there should be a betrayal of secrets.” Macmillan’s books substantiates the claim: “Security was somewhat of an obsession with the British... wives were allowed to take meals in The Majestic, but not to stay... At The Majestic, each inhabitant was given a book of house rules. Meals were at set hours. Drinks had to be paid for unless, and this was a matter for bitter comment, you came from one of the dominions or India, in which case the British government footed the bills.”
Some members of the Allied Press Camp painted by Sir William Orpen
Macmillan states in the book that the British replaced all the French staff at The Majestic with English hotel workers. “The food became that of a respectable railway hotel: porridge and eggs and bacon in the mornings, lots of meat and vegetables at lunch and dinner and bad coffee all day. The sacrifice was pointless,” Harold Nicolson and his colleagues grumbled, “because all their offices, full of confidential papers, were in the Hôtel Astoria, where the staff was still French.” The diplomatic fête went on for six months before the usual anonymously wealthy guests moved back in.
A most Majestic host Throughout this era of frivolity, the Hôtel Majestic was the hub that played host to an eclectic cast of characters from writers to musicians to socialites James Joyce
n a private dining room at the Hôtel Majestic, British writer Sydney Schiff and his arts-loving socialite wife, Violet, hosted the now-famous dinner that has come to represent the high point of European Modernism. The gathering earned its place in history because of its special guests and Proust at The Majestic became one of Paris’ defining moments as a cultural capital. The feast on May 18, 1922, was to celebrate the first performance of Stravinsky’s Renard by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. However, it was the attendees that made the evening a unique event in 20th century history. Richard Davenport-Hines’ 2006 work, A Night at the Majestic alludes to the party. Davenport-Hines, a biographer and editor, declared that James Joyce’s single meeting with fellow novelist Marcel Proust would, on its own, have ensured that the supper party at The Majestic was exceptional. But the presence of Sergei Diaghilev, Igor Stravinsky and Pablo Picasso was the icing on the proverbial cake.
The author recounts details of the dinner, using it for a larger study of Proust in Paris. Picasso, not wanting to be at the dinner, looked like a pirate with a twisted Catalan headband wrapped around his forehead, but there are no records of what he said. Proust, a semi-recluse for a decade, made an eye-catching entrance in white gloves and a fur coat. The story goes that he tried to engage Stravinsky in a conversation about Beethoven, to which the composer retorted, “I detest Beethoven!”
Mikhail Larionov’s Renard costume design for the Fox disguised as a Nun, 1922. Watercolor George Chaffée Collection. Gift 1949
The first notes of the score from Stravinsky’s Renard
Joyce apparently was drunk on arrival. He slumped over the table and began to snore. He either fell asleep at the table or pretended to. One version has the hypochondriac novelist comparing physical ailments, with Joyce bemoaning his bad eyesight: “My eyes are terrible,” and Proust complaining of digestive problems: “My poor stomach. It’s killing me.” The Majestic menu, according to Davenport-Hines’ book, was chosen to appeal to both the Russian exiles in attendance and to the Proustians within the group. “Schiff and the chefs of The Majestic wanted to compliment the many Russian exiles who were among the guests by providing Russian hors d’œuvres, caviar and other light delicacies from their homeland... Suitable choices of meat for Proustians included dishes plucked straight from the pages of his novels – bœuf en gelée and leg of mutton.” And, of course, as Davenport-Hines says, asparagus - “a vegetable which Proust had beautifully and playfully described in his book and which was in season at the time of the party” - was plentiful. The Majestic’s dessert chefs whipped up pineapple and truffle salad, almond cake, coffee and pistachio ice cream and strawberry mousse, plus Nesselrode pudding, a creamy chestnut cake coated with vanilla ice-cream and flavoured with kirsch, a sweet, fruit brandy made from distilled morello cherries. It would be Proust’s last dinner party, as he died six months to the day after the night at The Majestic.
Our social personality is a creation of the thoughts of other people. Marcel Proust A la recherche du temps perdu 62
Les AnnĂŠes Folles in Paris
Sylvia Beach & James Joyce
A N A M E R I C A N I N PA R I S Americans had been trickling into Paris for several decades before World War I, but the floodgates opened in the 1920s as artists, writers, musicians, and the sons and daughters of wealth and industry booked berths on ocean liners to Normandy, then boarded the train to the French capital. Taking advantage of prosperity at home and the strength of the dollar against the French franc, Americans made their mark on the luxury hotels of the Right Bank. Like the thousands of tourists who flocked to Paris, Englishspeaking expatriates arrived in droves. “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast,” wrote Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast, his memoir that was posthumously published in 1964. In 1922, Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, took a two-room flat near the Sorbonne. He spent his time at Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore near the Jardin du Luxembourg owned by Sylvia Beach, one of the leading expatriate figures whose bookstore became a crossroads for Americans in Paris. There he borrowed books by Turgenev and Tolstoy. It was an exciting time for literature in Paris, with writers such as T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Sherwood Anderson, Samuel Beckett, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound along with Hemingway finding inspiration in the City of Light. Expatriate activity was at its highest in the French capital from the end of World War I to the onset of World War II. Writer Gertrude Stein called them the “Lost Generation” - young men and women who felt alienated after living through the devastation of the war in Europe.
George Gershwin and the theme from his orchestral composition An American in Paris
Literature wasn’t the only art form burgeoning in the city. Another writer found la Ville Lumière inspiring and captured the essence of visiting Paris during the roaring and jazz-infused 1920s. The Hôtel Majestic proved to be the perfect setting for American composer George Gershwin’s symphonic poem, An American in Paris, part of which he wrote while staying at the hotel in the spring of 1928. His brother Ira and Ira’s wife, Leonore, along with Gershwin’s sister, Frances, travelled with the composer on his fifth trip to Europe. Ira reported that the entire “blues” section of the piece was composed at the Hôtel Majestic. Other parts were written in New York, in Vienna and at a farm in Connecticut. Yet it’s Paris that Gershwin so painterly describes in his “rhapsodic ballet,” as he called it. “My purpose here,” Gershwin wrote about his composition, “is to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere.” He speaks of the vitality, energy and the bustle of the cafés, the sidewalks and the streets, and, “after a spasm of homesickness,” as the composer described it, “the joy of being a visitor strolling through Paris”, quite possibly before returning to his hotel. He writes in his own words about the composition: “Apparently, the homesick American, having left the café and reached the open air, has disowned his spell of the blues and once again is an alert spectator of Parisian life. At the conclusion, the street noise and French atmosphere are triumphant.”
Sitting in his room at The Majestic, Gershwin could hear the cacophony of taxi horns. The book Americans in Paris recounts Gershwin’s peculiar request while at the hotel: “He wanted to acquire (for himself) the horns that suffused Paris with one of its most indigenous sounds.” Gershwin found the horns in the Avenue de la Grande Armée, where there were several automotive parts shops. He took them back to his quarters at The Majestic and placed them on some card tables near the piano. Guests who had arrived at his room later queried him about the array of horns. “I’m looking for the right horn pitch for the street scene of a ballet I’m writing,” he told them. “Calling it ‘An American in Paris.’ Lots of fun. I think I’ve got something. Just finished sketching the slow movement: ‘the homesickness blues’ section.” Gershwin hoped to evoke the sounds of Parisian traffic by using real taxi horns in his ballet, the book recalled. There is no record of how other guests at The Majestic took to the indoor blaring of the taxi horns. The onset of the Great Depression in 1929 blanketed Paris in a sombre mood, but for the artistic avant-garde and the free-thinking intellectuals, Paris had lost none of its whimsical allure. As the 1930s ushered in a new decade, a fresh assortment of artists, aristocrats and writers joined those already displaced by the 1920s. At salons, cafés and galleries all across the magical city, the likes of Anaïs Nin, Coco Chanel, Salvador Dalí, Katherine Anne Porter and Henry Miller joined with other illustrious exiles in orchestrating Paris’ nights. The sound of jazz was all around, surrealism thrived, and haute couture modified itself. These innovative and free-thinking individuals carried the torch that continued to foster the creative revolution of the expatriate era in Paris, an era that began with an extravagant, over-the-top masquerade ball full of promise and pleasure and came to a grim end with the imminent fall of Paris.
THE END OF AN ERA In 1936, The Majestic’s star on the hospitality map of Paris burned out when the building was purchased by the French State, which installed the directorate of the Defence Procurement Agency there. Though still referred to as The Majestic, its lounges and ballrooms were no longer intended for luxurious festivities, and furnishings incompatible with its new function were sold off. One of the pieces from The Majestic ballroom that was sold was the 1923 organ, which was originally installed in one of the hotel’s salons. Built by Rieger in the Czech Republic, the organ was purchased by the parish of Saint Michel in the 17th arrondissement, where it is still played today. Four years later, the building’s role in France’s defence planning would take a drastic turn as the German army launched its offensive against France.
politics, Peace Talks and rebirth During the uncertain course of the next seventy years, the Hôtel Majestic played a pivotal role in peacekeeping and diplomacy in Paris
s the German army bore deep into France in June 1940, Paris was declared an “open city,” sparing the French capital from combat and destruction as the enemy entered town. The Germans would occupy Paris until its liberation in August 1944. During those four years, The Majestic, along with the Ritz, the Lutétia, the Crillon, the Meurice, the Ambassador, the Continental and other hotels of international renown between the two wars, as well as major government buildings throughout Paris, were requisitioned by the occupying force They would serve the administrative and military aims of Nazi Germany. As swastikas and German military uniforms marked the city, the once-Majestic became headquarters for the German Military Command in France (Militärbefehlshaber in Frankreich or MBF), responsible for administering German policies of order and security in much of France’s Occupied Zone. On August 26, 1944, just up the street from The Majestic, General Charles de Gaulle relit the flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe and led troops and citizens on a victory march down the Champs-Élysées and to Notre-Dame Cathedral. A second victory parade down the Champs-Élysées included the presence of American soldiers
American soldiers look at the French tricolour flying from the Eiffel Tower
U N E S C O at the M a j estic Unesco and centre de conférences internationales
The Hôtel Majestic was given a quick refit following its liberation from the German occupation. A year after the victory marches, the creation of the United Nations led to the development of various agencies and organisations, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which was to be headquartered in Paris. The United Nations selected The Majestic as UNESCO’s temporary home when it moved UNESCO’s Preparatory Commission to Paris from London on September 16, 1946. The lofty aims of UNESCO helped diminish the memory of the German occupation on the site of the former hotel. According to the Preamble of the organisation’s constitution, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” Working conditions, however, were not exactly ideal. Some of the largest bedrooms of the hotel were allocated to secretaries who stored files in the room’s wardrobes. Middle-grade professionals worked in bathrooms, where they stored important papers in bathtubs for safe keeping. The “temporary” stay by UNESCO at The Majestic lasted 12 years. On November 3, 1958, the organisation inaugurated its headquarters on the Place de Fontenoy on the Right Bank in Paris’ 7th arrondissement. The specially built complex, known as “the three-pointed star” owing to its complex layout and its three buildings in the form of a Y, remains world famous, not only because it is the home of the organisation, but because of its outstanding architecture.
Vietnam peace agreement signing in the Hôtel Majestic, on January 27, 1973
As UNESCO moved out, The Majestic almost immediately saw the arrival of new occupants. These would be the last tenants of the Hôtel Majestic. For more than 50 years, until 2009, the building was used to host large gatherings and high profile events as the centre de conférences internationales by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One of the most notable events during this period was the occasion of The Paris Peace Talks, which began on May 13, 1968, “under the crystal chandeliers of the old Majestic Hotel”, as Larry Berman writes in his book No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam.
After 12 days of serious negotiations, the signing of the agreement, Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam, The Paris Peace Accords, took place on January 27, 1973 in an oak-panelled parlour off The Majestic’s lobby, which is now Le Bar Kléber. Brokered by Henry Kissinger, the agreement was signed by representatives of four sides, the United States, South and North Vietnam as well as the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF, or Viet Cong). Almost 20 years later, the former Hôtel Majestic became the site again for peace talks. The Paris Accords of 1991 were signed by four Cambodian parties and international participants at the Paris Conference. On October 23, 1991, 19 governments gathered in the rooms of the Centre to sign the Paris Peace Agreements, which put an end to the Cambodian-Vietnamese War. The signing was history-making for another reason: it led to the first-ever occasion in which the United Nations took over as the government of a state.
2014 L a G r a n d e D a m e I s R eborn As the decades passed, the conference centre began to lose its lustre. It was time for the French government to relinquish its ownership, and in 2007, it sold the Beaux Arts building on Avenue Kléber to Katara Hospitality of Qatar. In early 2009, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited (HSH) announced that it had entered into an agreement with Katara Hospitality to jointly redevelop the building into a Peninsula Hotel. It would be the HSH Group’s first European property. Interior demolition of the existing building, which began in late 2009, was completed in March 2010, and work on the restoration of the building commenced immediately. Restoring the late 19th century classic building to its former glory became a fouryear labour of love. The objective from the outset was to preserve the spirit of the unique location. Architects were forbidden to alter the heritage of the building’s exterior, and for the interiors, there was no question that the authenticity and the spirit of the building needed to remain intact. Together with the expansive volumes of the original rooms and public areas, original elements long gone or badly damaged were recreated following extensive research, and the décor dating back to 1908 reinstated in all its glory. Marble, stucco, mosaics, roof and wall tiles, wood carvings, stone work, gold leafing, paintings and a myriad of other elements were lovingly preserved and painstakingly restored by some of France’s most revered family firms. The collection of top craftsmen and experts called upon had pedigree and lineage dating back generations, many with experience working on heritage projects such as the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles. Each area and material used resulted in the architectural and design integrity of the original building being restored and preserved. Simultaneously, innovative and contemporary standards in design, luxury and comfort were put in place, seamlessly blending the old with the new, and creating a true Parisian palace for today. A little over a century after Tauber’s Hôtel Majestic welcomed its first guest, The Peninsula Paris greeted theirs on August 1, 2014. The grande dame of Paris was, once again, reborn.
The making of... 75
of a “Grande Dame” 76
While it took just two years to build Parisâ€™ leading grand hotel, it required four years to restore and restyle it. Original elements were lovingly preserved, and in some cases painstakingly recreated, by Franceâ€™s most revered artisanal firms, who transformed this classical Parisian icon into a luxurious retreat for discerning 21st century travellers 77
tep inside The Peninsula Paris. Take a moment and listen. The walls do talk. They recount tales of the glory days of this most glamorous of Grandes Dames, which first opened in 1908. The grand hôtel was the belle of this great city’s Belle Époque and 1920s’ social scenes, a muse for composer George Gershwin, and a gracious hostess for a dinner party during which nemesis writers James Joyce and Marcel Proust broke bread and shared a table with Pablo Picasso and Igor Stravinsky The grande dame also weaves stories of the troubled days and nights that contributed to decay and disrepair. Her personality changed during two major wars, housing the British delegation at the Treaty of Versailles negotiations to end World War I, and later becoming a military headquarters for occupied France during World War II. She opened her arms as a hospital for wounded soldiers, and as the administrative headquarters for an agency of the United Nations, and, finally as a conference centre for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Today, her renaissance as The Peninsula Paris has become a source of pride for many Parisians, especially the new generation of artisans carrying on centuries-old family trades that helped restore the fatigued lady back to her youthful beauty.
Clement Kwok, Chief Executive Officer of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, says that fate brought the grande dame and The Peninsula Hotels together, a romantic pairing befitting the City of Love. “The Peninsula Hotels had been looking for 15 years for a location in Paris. The brief was very simple, yet restrictive: The building had to possess historical significance, be able to accommodate a minimum of 200 rooms, and be in the best location possible.”
The ceiling and wall paintings in today’s Lounge Kléber
The seven-storey property at 19 Avenue Kléber was a near-perfect fit. “When we first walked into the building, even though it was damaged and run-down, we could immediately sense the former glamour – we could almost hear the music play,” added Peter Borer, Chief Operating Officer. The only problem was its parlous state of decay. Significant work was required. Across the course of four years, some of France’s finest artisans would undertake a careful restoration of this magnificent architectural gem. From the building façade to interior elements including fine marble, rich wood panelling and gold leaf finishing, the result is a testament to timeless French craftsmanship. “There was, and is, a poetry buried in this building, in its history and in its design,” says James Mercer, the Project Manager for the renovation. Mercer is no stranger to large, historic hotel projects, having also managed the renewal of the Four Seasons George V, not far from The Peninsula Paris.
When Peninsula took over, the Lobby was painted green. However, the original colour was white, hidden under the green paint
While the original hotel was built in just two years, from 1906 to 1908, the restoration was protracted. The objective was to preserve the heritage, authenticity and the spirit of the building, together with the expansive volumes of the rooms and public areas, and several missing or badly damaged original elements were recreated following extensive research. Richard Martinet of Affine Architecture and Interior Design was the main architect working with The Peninsula Hotels’ in-house team. He remembers first stepping into the decrepit hotel building. “When we begin a renovation, we always start by scraping everything just to find the structure, the original layer, and in that phase of the project we always discover something interesting. Here, we found, under layers of concrete and paint, parts of the original décor that were still there,” says Martinet. “It is very romantic when you have this half-scraped building and then with a little bit of imagination you can picture how it was. It has to be just through your imagination though, because you just have these bits and pieces to work with” Even by applying some romantic imagination, the task at hand was considerable. “Two lounges had been transformed into technical rooms and separated by a concrete slab. We had only the upper part; the lower part was completely destroyed,” says Martinet. “The bathrooms were still in the rooms, but a concealing drywall had been added, and when we dismantled it we found a collection of original tiles. This is the sort of destruction you find in such buildings. There isn’t a thought or care about the skills it took to create the original décor.” Obscured windows were also discovered behind cupboards in a gallery. “The windows were designed in 1908 to bring natural light into the centre of the lobby in a very soft way. The building’s architect, Armand Sibien, designed the light to be filtered by the dimensions of the window. It was very imaginative, and there was a lot of thought and skill put into it.” 81
Parisians could follow the reconstruction of the Grand Lady step by step from Avenue Kléber
Facing the cha l l enges Numerous challenges were evident from the outset of the restoration, with structural decay being a critical inhibiting factor. “The structure required large-scale technical and engineering work to reconstruct and strengthen the entire building. We were basically taking an old building and re-supporting it, while also making sure we were instituting 21st century technology,” says Mercer. Historic preservation rules created additional challenges. The restoration architects could not alter the building’s façade in any way, and there were other considerations for the interior too, including a requirement to use the exact same materials as a century ago. Much of the way Paris looks today is owed to the mid 19th-century Prefect of the Seine, Baron GeorgesEugène Haussmann, who established regulations to standardise how building façades should look. The intention for The Peninsula Paris was to marry the architectural and design integrity of the original building, while simultaneously imbuing it with the contemporary facilities, technology and luxury amenities of a 21st century hotel. “When we took over, we had to restore everything that was historic, and we had to abide by the local rules on preservation, not only of the exterior but also in the interior,” says Mercer. He points to original motifs high up on the lobby walls. “At the very beginning, when we looked around, they were old and falling apart. Each one was created from a material called stucco, so we had to take moulds of everything existing and then reproduce them by using the original techniques.” Bruno Rondet of S.O.E. Stuc et Staff, the company charged with repairing the stucco, explains the process, “We researched both the original colours and the pigments, so what you see today is exactly the same as you would have seen a century ago.” This meticulous attention to detail has seen The Peninsula Paris frequently described as one of the French capital’s most impressive historical preservations in recent decades.
R eframing the Fa ç ade Restoring the magnificent exterior of the Beaux-Arts building to her former glory was a painstaking labour of love, technical and engineering mastery. The character and spirit of this venerable grand hotel are encased by its quintessentially Haussmannian edifice and defined by its unique location. The twin-edged challenge from the outset was to preserve its Parisian soul and respect the unique architectural heritage. Although the restoration took place in the early 21st century, everyone involved kept in mind the fact that when the building was constructed, between 1906 and 1908, Paris was one of the world’s richest and most stylish cities. The wealth and prestige of early 20th-century Paris was demonstrated not just by the palatial grandeur of its buildings, but also in the meticulously detailed façades whose delicately carved frescoes, stone statues and roof tiles were created by France’s finest craftsmen. An extended period of decline and decay presented two immediate challenges, however; recreating the visual aesthetic of the building from its glory years and securing the structural integrity. To meet these objectives, The Peninsula’s restoration team worked closely with France’s three principal heritage bodies – Les Architectes des Bâtiments de France, Les Monuments Historiques and La Commission du Vieux Paris. Managing the task of structural security required an extremely complicated feat of engineering. “This was one of the first buildings in Paris to utilise reinforced concrete, which was remarkably innovative at the time and therefore of great historical interest,” notes Project Manager, James Mercer. It also presented significant challenges a century later.
The entire hotel had to be reconstructed on a metal frame and the foundations underpinned. The steel used weighed the equivalent of five French TGV high-speed trains, while 30,000 tonnes of concrete were poured â€“ three times the weight of the Eiffel Tower. Covered with dust and dirt from decades of neglect, a deep cleanse was the first treatment for beautifying the frontage. Then the serious work began. The faĂ§ade restoration employed the talents of 20 skilled stonemasons from historic monument specialist Degaine to restore the 10,000 square metre area with its elaborate carved stone flowers, bows and ribbons. Three types of limestone were used from the same St Leu-la-ForĂŞt, Chauvigny and Comblanchien quarries as the original construction. Repairs were carried out where possible, carving missing portions by hand using stone-dust paste, or where the bas-reliefs were severely damaged, the entire section was replaced by a new stone and hand-carved from scratch, using only photos for reference. Each flower cascade took a stonemason three weeks to complete, with 12 hours required for a small bow. The zinc flashings or frames surrounding each window were all beaten, pressed and finished by hand, in order to retain the original artisanal feel from when the building was first created.
The summit of the hotel also required careful attention. The roof was completely reconstructed by hand, using traditional techniques and French oak beams and zinc flashings. A total of 100,000 slate tiles from the same quarry in Angers-Trélazé as the original building were used to create a new roof. Mined by the century-old company Les Ardoisières d’Angers-Trélazé, the mine is now closed as the veins of slate have been exhausted. A few key veins had been kept exclusively for official historic monuments, and The Peninsula Paris is one of the last buildings to feature slate from this quarry.
Creating the L’Oiseau Blanc restaurant
Three towers atop the building originally faced into the inner courtyard, but one was moved and a fourth created to render the courtyard symmetrical. “Fish scale” slate tiles were used to re-roof the towers, initially cut by machine into rectangles, and then fashioned by hand into a fish-scale shape. Apart from the skill required to shape the tiles, the tilers themselves deployed exceptional dexterity to tile the curved shapes. The original hotel was one of just very few hotels in Paris to have its own roof garden. Still a rarity in the French capital, The Peninsula Paris has recreated five rooftop gardens, with exclusive access and private staircases from The Katara Suite and the courtyard suites. Two more small gardens are found on the ground floor courtyards, while the rooftop and La Terrasse Kléber also feature lush seasonal greenery. Adding an extra decorative touch, the railings lining the terraces were made by Fonderie GHM, the same company responsible for the much-loved Art Nouveau-style Metro entrances visible across the city.
The entrance on Avenue des Portugais invites guests to check-in
B l ending history and modernity If recapturing the timeless beauty of the building brought myriad challenges, so too did modernising the interiors to provide guests with the contemporary comforts expected from a world-class luxury hotel. Extra space was clearly needed, and an ambitious excavation of the hotel’s existing basement created three extra levels. “At one point, we had 2,000 temporary supports holding the building up,” says Mercer, adding that the building stood precariously like “a house of cards.” The three extra floors created space for modern facilities including a spa, a 20-metre swimming pool, a fitness centre and a private car park for 57 cars with elevator access to the guest room floors. Extensive back-of-house areas for employees, including state-of-the-art kitchen facilities, a wine cellar, changing rooms and a stylish employee dining room, were also added. The excavation of the three-storey basement gave the space for a wellness centre with a 20-metre swimming pool, a private car park and the backof-house areas
The main entrance on 19 Avenue Kléber, the address of choice for the Tout-Paris
Architect Richard Martinet made another important change. The hotel now has two entrances, one on Avenue Kléber, where carpeted steps ascend to a large terrace café and the beautifully ornate Lobby restaurant - a Peninsula hallmark - and a second around the corner on Avenue des Portugais. “The former entrance was a porte-cochère, which is now transformed into a boutique. It was a covered entrance where a carriage or car could enter from the street into an interior courtyard. Now, the first entrance opens to the city. The Kléber terrace also makes it less intimidating for visitors entering the hotel from the street. The second entrance is more discreet, so guests can arrive in a quiet place,” explains Martinet. Guests dining today at La Terrasse Kléber share the same views as their predecessors enjoyed in the early 20th century. Just as then, however, diners sometimes need protection from the seasonal rain and wind.
The terrace on Avenue Kléber, protected by its now-famous canopy, is the only one in Paris to be opened to the city
“We knew that the original covering was a large textile awning. We could go back to the original, or do something entirely different. It seemed preferable to take a contemporary approach,” says Martinet. One option considered was to enclose the terrace year-round, but planning restrictions made that impossible. The urban code of Paris since the mid-19th century requires certain proportions for each street, and enclosing the terrace would have counted as an additional area.
The Chinese lions, a Peninsula Hotels tradition, protect the premises from evil spirits
Martinet also researched a sculpture-like moveable structure created by American artist Chris Haberman that could retract and change shape, but the cost was prohibitive. Instead, a modern, origami-looking, glass-and-steel canopy extends over the entrance, and this immediately became a recognisable icon of The Peninsula Paris. Welcoming guests at the entrance leading up to the terrace are two stone lions, each standing 1.7 metres high and weighing 4.6 tonnes. The lions pay tribute to The Peninsula Hotelsâ€™ Chinese heritage, as protective pairs of lions traditionally guard palaces, temples and important buildings. The male lion stands tall with his paw on a ball, representing dominion over the globe, while the female restrains a cub, representing nurture.
It is this combination of timeless customs, magisterial architecture and world-class 21st-century hospitality that defines The Peninsula Paris. Guests staying here can sense and feel the storied heritage of the former Paris grand hôtel, but they are also characters in its present and future, an integral part in the next chapter of the unfurling legend of 19 Avenue Kléber. “When staying here or visiting the hotel, you should take your time to appreciate the building,” says Martinet. “If you do, you may gradually perceive, in the antechambers, vestibules, galleries and corridors, the whispers of anecdotes, stories and legends that gave this hotel its personality.”
Inspired by the City of Light Hong Kong designer Henry Leung immersed himself in the culture, traditions and landscapes of Paris to reimagine the elegant interiors of The Peninsula Paris
henever he arrives at a new location, interior designer Henry Leung wants to understand its soul. He takes to the streets to find even the smallest details that might embellish a restaurant, a suite or a guest room. His gift is in appreciating new surroundings and adapting this knowledge into the creative process.
This was how Leung, an architect from CAP Atelier Limited (formerly Chhada Siembieda Leung Limited), approached his assignment at The Peninsula Paris. He strolled among the haute couture boutiques near Avenue des Champs-Élysées, studied the tree-lined Avenue Kléber, and enjoyed a performance at the Opéra Garnier. He absorbed the very best of Paris then coalesced it with his experience of working with The Peninsula Hotels for more than a decade. “Working with The Peninsula Hotels is very different to other hotel projects. There is a respect for history and for the past, and the group also wants something related to the place in which the hotel is located. Because of the company’s historical roots, that plays into the design, but there is also the desire to be up-to-date. The idea is to create a wow factor, to give guests something that will impress them,” says Leung.
The Opéra Garnier perfectly reflects the Haussmannian style under the second Empire, which is now part of Paris' signature
He worked closely with Richard Martinet, the project’s main architect. Leung says there is always a point of reference to begin planning a design. “As an interior designer, you never want to inject something that conflicts with the architecture. The interior and the exterior should always join seamlessly together.”
An impressive assembly of international talents gathered around The Hon Sir Michael Kadoorie in May 2014
Being The Peninsula Hotels’ first property in Europe made it “extremely important that my team always listened to the Paris team’s feedback,” says Leung. “There was a mutual respect that naturally evolved between each culture, the Paris team respecting the ideas of the Hong Kong team and vice versa.” For the guest rooms, there was a consensus among the in-house team and Leung for a modernity of style, while retaining the innate Parisian elegance of the surroundings. After strolling the fashionable Avenue Montaigne, near the Champs-Élysées, he had an idea to incorporate Parisian haute couture in the guest rooms. “I wanted to capture the spirit of Parisian finery, give it a high-fashion kind of feeling, but very sophisticated, using French crystal, fine leather, hand stitching, and all things related to Parisian innovation and style.” Leung was true to his vision. Distinctive local influences abound, with furnishings in the rooms and suites exclusively created for The Peninsula by some of France’s top designers, including chairs and ottomans by Rosello, and sofas and bed frames by Laval.
a v ision of paris For the lobby, Leung envisioned an installation of dancing leaves rather than a traditional sculpture or fountain. The inspiration came from the falling plane tree leaves he saw on Avenue Kléber. “Dancing leaves descend from the ceiling and then tumble to the floor,” recalls Leung of the vision.
From Belle époque derelict décor to a masterpiece of Chinese and French elegance
It was the creation of the Chinese restaurant, however, where Leung was able to really allow his imagination to soar. Located in the same space as the dining room of the former grand hôtel, LiLi, a fictional Chinese opera star of the 1920s, welcomes guests to dine in true Parisian style. The interior takes as its theme a common love of opera between the French and the Chinese. “We had a conversation about The Peninsula Paris being a stage for us to show our talents, our cultures, and to present a shared dialogue. LiLi was almost like a culmination of everything else we had done,” says Leung. The design is based on a combination of Chinese elements and the Art Nouveau style of the late 1920s. A three-metre high hanging fibre-optic portrait of LiLi welcomes guests to the restaurant, where a dome inspired by the sound stage of a Shanghai opera hall dominates the dramatic setting. “The overall design of the hotel is clean and timeless, while elegant touches create a sense of residential comfort that contrasts with the ornate architectural elements of the building,” says Leung.
For the signature suites, Leung imagined the lifestyles and expectations of different guests. “The Katara Suite, for instance, is a city-style loft retreat. I imagined a couple who might live in the south of France, and when they arrive in Paris for a weekend they want to shop, enjoy life, and take in the sights and sounds of this ethereal city,” Leung explains. “The room is artistically themed, and echoes different visits by this couple to collect arts and crafts, which they leave here at their weekend getaway like a private collection.” The attention to detail, the hours of conversations, the dreaming and imagining, and Henry Leung’s long Paris walks have been combined to create a place that celebrates the fabric of Paris, while simultaneously fusing cultures from East and West.
Offering expansive outdoor spaces including a terrace, and an exclusive rooftop private garden with spectacular views of Parisâ€™ iconic landmarks, The Katara Suite showcases the very best of the Peninsula lifestyle blended with Parisian glamour
Claude Duchemin started in the famous Art Nouveau glasswork maker Jacques Grüber’s workshop in the 1920s, and opened the Ateliers Duchemin in 1950
Keeping Tradition Alive A talented team of restoration maîtres d’art dedicate their traditional skills to reviving the hotel’s majestic glory
teliers Duchemin has preserved the art of stained glass since the 19th century, and was commissioned by The Peninsula Hotels to embark on a unique 21st-century journey.
Having learned the art of stained glass at the École Nationale Supérieure des Métiers d’Art, Claude Duchemin entered the Bony studio. There he met Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault. He decided to start his own stained glass workshop to partake in the process of renovating and replacing buildings damaged or destroyed during World War II. Sixty years later, the services of the company he founded were in demand at 19 Avenue Kléber. Stained glass skylights were discovered above a series of small salons by crews removing wooden beams masking the ornate design elements of the building.
A full-sized drawing is done for every â€œlightâ€? of the stained glass. The drawing is then divided into a patchwork, providing a template for each small glass piece. The exact position of the lead which holds the glass in place is also noted as it is part of the calculated visual effect. Each piece of glass is selected for the desired colour and cut to match a section of the template. Once the glass is cut and painted, the pieces are assembled.
The Rotunda before Ateliers Duchemin took over
“There were two skylights in the galleries,” says Marie Rousvoal, the granddaughter of Claude Duchemin, who works in the family business managed by her mother Dominique Duchemin, with her father Gilles Rousvoal, a glass painter, and sister Charlotte. When crews began dismantling the room they found that the structure, which held the stained glass in place, was intact with wood beams to protect it. “As they took it down, they realised the glass was perfectly clean. We were able to repair some of the glass and use the original structure.” Dominique Duchemin and her team set out to restore the skylight and replace another in the small salon. Two more skylights were also requested to match the existing two. With the DNA of glass art in the very fabric of their souls, the experts at the small Paris workshop studied the original skylights, took measurements and researched the history of the glass. “We were unable to find the exact original glass from 1908, so we had to source a very similar one in terms of pattern after closely examining what was left of the original pieces,” explains Duchemin.
The new skydome of the Rotunda required two years to complete, using a technique involving hand painting onto textured white glass - a first for the company
Ateliers Duchemin is also renowned for creating original glass windows and skydomes, including the Musée d’Orsay and the Théâtre Antoine in Paris. “Skydomes are major components of Haussmann-era architecture,” says Marie Rousvoal. “They combine both décor and light.” It took two years for Duchemin to craft a new skydome for The Rotunda that reinstated the archetypal grandeur of the early-20th century hotel. “We adapted the design of the salon panels,” Duchemin says. Marie shows some sketches of the skydome on a computer. They resemble architectural blueprints. She says Duchemin used new techniques to sketch out the initial phases of the restoration. However, the actual hand-crafting required for delicate stained glass is a timeless art. In addition, Duchemin deployed, for the first time, a technique involving hand painting onto textured white glass. Combining traditional and modern glass restoration techniques for The Peninsula Paris was, as sister Charlotte points out, “not only a challenge, but a chance to be part of Paris history, its past, present and future.”
a trio of ate l iers If the walls of The Peninsula Paris were able to talk, no doubt the names of three ateliers that devoted their preservation skills would be topics of conversation. Whispers would mention Thomas Fancelli, the fourth generation of Fancelli Paneling whose company restored 1,000 wood panels and replaced each one in the precise location where it was first installed in 1908. The walls would also tell of Baptiste Gohard, the 32-year-old son of Ateliers Gohard’s founder, who led a team of 22 gilders and decorative painters to recreate and, in some instances, create finite works of art that capture the grand spirit of the Belle Époque.
“We researched both the original colours and the pigments, so what you see today is exactly the same as you would have seen a century ago.” 110
They would also recall the devotion of Bruno Rondet, president of S.O.E. Stuc et Staff, who made sure that the plasterwork and stucco materials were of the exact same composition as in 1908. Similar to the Parisian art of haute couture, this kind of historical restoration work shares the same few master craftsmen, all dedicated to preserving the soul of the original building. “This is not the same thinking as if you were working for a company. Even though we are companies with business objectives, there is a shared spirit of tradition and it creates unity. It’s where every one of us joins together,” says Fancelli.
The badly damaged fresco overlooking the Lobby required hundreds of hours to revive the original decorative painting
The wood restorer explains how artisan crafts often intersect, recalling a personal experience that occurred during the renovation. “Bruno Rondet asked me if I knew a carver, since one was needed for some of the work S.O.E. was doing. I told him that we have someone who works with us that may be just the right fit for what he was looking for.” Fancelli introduced his mother, Albertina, who ended up re-carving many of the ceiling motifs in the Lobby as part of the S.O.E. team. Childhood friends bonded by their ancestors’ devotion to French craftsmanship, Gohard and Fancelli also knew Rondet from previous restoration projects.
“These are techniques that have stood the test of time and will remain for generations.”
“It’s in our blood, it’s in our DNA,” says Gohard. “For me, it is engraved in my memory,” adds Fancelli. The men recall a time when Gohard’s father and Fancelli’s grandfather were both working on the same restoration project at the dome of Les Invalides. “I was born two stairs up from the atelier,” says Fancelli. “I lived there every day until I was 10 years old. I still work with my father.” Gohard was trained by his father, who founded Ateliers Gohard in 1962.
Twenty-two gilders and decorative painters recreated the works of art typical of the Belle époque
a game - changing pro j ect The experts note that a historical restoration on the scale required for The Peninsula Paris is unusual. Therefore for this new generation of maîtres d’art, The Peninsula Paris has been a business game changer. The scope of the project required each company to evolve, with some adapting new techniques in their approach to work or accelerating old methods. Atelier Fancelli had to keep track of the large amounts of panels that needed rescuing. More than 1,000 wood panels were removed and stored for sanding, repairs, restoration or replacement. “We removed each one, individually numbered it, boxed it, and then put it into storage until we were ready to begin the process,” says Fancelli. Each panel was labelled according to its condition. Most of the pieces were in good shape, but some were taken and restored at Fancelli’s workshop, while others were restored on site. The largest restoration was in the Lobby, with 370 sections needing repair, while Bar Kléber required work on 130 sections. Despite the challenge, every single section was returned to the precise place where it was originally located, “almost to the millimetre,” says Fancelli. Specialist gilder and restorer Ateliers Gohard was equally meticulous when applying by hand 20,000 individual pieces of gold leaf, each measuring 8 sq cm, and undertaking the fine, decorative hand painting. “The Peninsula project was the first time that Ateliers Gohard had done decorative painting,” says Gohard. “It was a big learning curve for us. In 2013, we doubled our work force because of the painting work in addition to the restoration.”
Thomas Fancelli and his team restored and replaced 1,000 wood panels and made sure each panel was put back in the precise location where it was installed in 1908
20,000 gold leaves were used to give the Grande Dame de Paris back her original grandeur
The company still uses an antique technique to apply its gold leafing, which begins by priming restored wood with traditional rabbit-skin glue gesso, a mixture whose history dates back to medieval times. â€œThis work is very specific and many of the artisans on our team have been with us for decades, and trained as masters in traditional gilding,â€? says Gohard, who plans to build a school to teach traditional gilding techniques and decorative painting. The company trains its own apprentices, and two star pupils who have been with Ateliers Gohard for a decade worked on The Peninsula Paris project.
S.O.E. Stuc et Staff has different roots to Fancelli and Gohard’s generational family tradition. A year before Léonard Tauber broke ground for the original grand hôtel in Paris, a small group of Creusois people created a company of seven stucco plaster craftsmen. “It was a cooperative,” says Rondet, “There were a lot of Haussmann-style buildings that needed to be restored. The company wasn’t founded to make money per se, they wanted to make sure that this difficult skill was maintained.” Every year, S.O.E. assesses the special skills of each team member. “If we see that we are lacking in some areas, maybe because someone has retired, we begin training new people to make sure the skill never dies out.”
S.O.E. restored the plaster and mouldings in more than 100 bedrooms, Chinese restaurant LiLi, the Lobby, Le Bar Kléber and Salon Adam. Staying true to its roots, the company uses the same materials as a century ago. “The composition is exactly the same; the savoir-faire has not changed.” Extensive research was carried out to determine the original colours and pigments, and thus the public areas today appear as they did in 1908. “Everything is natural; nothing is synthetic,” Rondet emphasises. The company hadn’t altered its way of doing things for over a century, but The Peninsula Paris project inadvertently changed its approach. Rondet says when he looked at floor plans he didn’t realise the grandiosity of the rooms. The way S.O.E. mixed its compositions by hand would slow down the process. “For other projects, we would make the material and the base and bring it to the building site. However, for this job, the way it had always been done wasn’t going to work.”
Rondet searched for a mixer that would keep the company’s secret recipe intact, while enabling work to be speeded up. He discovered an atelier company in Belgium. “I was very glad that S.O.E. was able to give work to this company,” says Rondet. A strict confidentiality agreement about the mixing solution was signed. “This is our private recipe, and our livelihood depends on it,” he explains. Another mechanical movement was also needed. Because of the grand scale of the walls, Rondet had to figure out a way to cover a larger portion of the wall and more expediently. He discovered a machine that “spits” the material on to the walls twice as fast as the previous hand-applied technique. “The Peninsula Paris made us grow up in a way. A project like this makes you look at the way you have been working. You find out what you need to do to complete the project, but it also makes you even more steadfast in maintaining quality,” Rondet says. “And when it’s finished, you can look at your work and know you created something that is built to last. These are techniques that have stood the test of time, and will remain for generations.”
Over 600 ornamentations were either reproduced or restored for The Peninsula Paris
artisans of meta l Established in Paris in 1832, ornamental metal work company Rémy Garnier restored and created majestic hardware for The Peninsula Paris. Once businesses close in the 12th arrondissement on Boulevard de la Bastille, the workshop of Rémy Garnier turns into an ad hoc artists’ studio. The same hands, which during the day bring back the shine of a Belle Époque-style brass crémone bolt or recreate a Louis XVI satin nickel knob, twist and turn metal to make small sculptures for a hobby. “Many of our workers would be full-time artists if they could. They really are artisans,” says Eric Chassagnon, who manages Rémy Garnier, which was bought by his father, Christian, in 2001. “The workshop stays open after hours every night for the people who work here, and they can stay if they want and create something.” In the original workshop founded by Rémy Garnier in 1832, turners, polishers, locksmiths and chiselers work with metal and pigment to create sur mesure ornamentation for windows and doors. Nearly 600 ornaments were either reproduced or restored for The Peninsula Paris, and 1,000 new window levers were hand-finished and polished for the guest rooms and suites. Rémy Garnier also recreated large mirror frames, door handles, cabinet and drawer knobs, crémone bolts (a rack-and-pinion opening mechanism controlled by a rotary handle), espagnolettes (window-locking devices) and decorative hinge concealers for windows. Different design styles required different approaches. “In the Lobby, the style is Art Déco, and in the gallery it is Louis XIV,” says Chassagnon. In addition, modifications were needed to some keyholes and locks so that they were not only ornamentally sound, but could also stand up to modern security measures. Chassagnon leads the way through a narrow hall that opens into a workshop where two men are standing over vats. Ornaments hang on slim metal hooks, while the workers carefully dip bronze objects inside a nitrate bath of gold, silver or nickel to create a shiny finish. In another area, a worker spins a wheel as he rubs an ornament on a polisher to make the object smooth.
Climbing upstairs to the second floor of the workshop reveals several drawers filled with age-old metal works. Chassagnon pulls out a silver handle cast in the shape of a mermaid. From another drawer he picks up a shiny gold knob. “Empire style,” he says of the understated piece that’s sparse except for a flower burst in the middle. The art of casting metals by hand carving, using chisels, gouges and scribers, in order to perfect designs
Not far from the row of drawers is a large catalogue compiled last century. It shows all of the company’s products in full size and scale. The book has more than 6,000 product references and is continually updated. “It’s an invaluable reference for when we have to create a new piece based on an old design or to satisfy a particular client demand,” Chassagnon says. The Chassagnons have expanded their business, despite the fact that Rémy Garnier still maintains its roots in the hand-crafted ornamental arts. An extra workshop at Chelles, in the east of Paris, and a foundry in Château-Renault are part of the expansion. The latter features dip baths that utilise clean, recycled water. The workforce has increased from 20 to 200 since Chassagnon took over the company. As Eric escorts a guest out of the workshop and to the boulevard, he pauses to look down the neighbourhood streets of the Bastille district. “We are one of the last of our kind in this historical place. We’re the only ones actually producing. About 50 years ago, this area was very active and there were so many producers of bronze,” he says. While manufacturers can churn out duplicates of modern door levers and knobs at record speeds, artisanal specialists such as Rémy Garnier keep the savoir-faire of the past alive. “What we do here takes skill. It’s a craft, and it’s something that can never be replaced by a machine.” says Chassagnon.
The bronze and wrought ironwork of the Grand Escalier dâ€™Honneur was created by Schwartz et Meurer, the company which constructed the Eiffel Tower, allied with RĂŠmy Garnier demonstrating its savoir-faire 137
The Peninsula Suite Study
The Katara Suite Living Room
B eauty beneath the feet Everything in The Peninsula Paris was purposefully selected to maintain the elegance inspired by Parisian fashion and haute couture. Even underfoot, the hand-woven Tai Ping carpets each feature a unique design. “It is rare in Europe to have all the carpets of a hotel made by hand. The level of what was required for The Peninsula Paris was more on a par with a private home than a hospitality project,” says Catherine Vergez, Tai Ping’s director of European and Middle Eastern operations. Vergez says the flooring details had to match the specifics in each room, with adjustments needed to allow for both natural and artificial lighting. “For most hospitality projects, natural lighting is not even considered,” she says.
The Governor of Hong Kong Sir Alexander Grantham tries his hand at carpet making with the new cut-pile needle, developed by Anthony Yeh, 1957
Tai Ping might not be a household name, but for the world’s premier interior designers, it is highly revered. Tai Ping carpets cover the floors of Parisian palaces, several French embassies, Buckingham Palace, the Vatican and the White House. Its presence in The Peninsula Paris is not just a perfect fit because of the prestigious Hong Kong brand’s work, but because of its deep-seated roots that have a kinship to those of The Peninsula Paris. In 1956, its founding directors included the Kadoorie brothers Lawrence (later Lord Kadoorie) and Horace (later Sir Horace Kadoorie) of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited (parent company of The Peninsula Hotels) with Shanghai friends and businessmen, who had known each other before the war. Lawrence Kadoorie was the company’s first Chairman and, as Vergez points out, the carpet business wasn’t just for profit: “The Kadoorie family was involved in the Hong Kong community, and Lawrence Kadoorie wanted to give people work. He wanted the artisans with no work in China arriving in Hong Kong to have somewhere to continue their profession.” The company’s first makeshift workshop was established in 1956 in Tuen Mun, employing 32 workers and a supervisor. Operations were quickly expanded thanks to a large tent, which is today represented in Tai Ping’s logo. As the business grew, the time necessary to produce a carpet in the traditional way was beginning to slow things down. Lawrence Kadoorie met with a young Chinese engineer named Anthony Yeh, who had recently gratuated from MIT, and
asked him to find a way to produce the rugs faster, but one that would also preserve the artisanal technique. Yeh developed the cut-pile needle that was a predecessor of hand-tufting tools used today. With this ingenious tool, Tai Ping’s workers quickly adapted to creating hand-tufted carpets. The company’s first showroom opened in 1957 in The Peninsula Court, located behind The Peninsula Hong Kong. A year later, John D. Rockefeller gave Tai Ping an order for a giant carpet to be installed in Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Tai Ping’s popularity grew, as did the orders coming from large American companies. Tai Ping’s respect for tradition remains, and much of its wool is still hand-dyed. It has updated for the 21st century, however: its Paris atelier launched a guest designer collection in 2002, a collaboration with artists that continues today. In 2009, it began manufacturing 100 percent wool carpet tiles with a recycled backing, and a year later the company acquired Les Manufactures Cogolin, a French producer of hand-woven Jacquard carpets in Provence.
Hand-held, manually operated needle, demonstrated by Sir Horace Kadoorie, during Governor Sir Alexander Grantham’s visit to Tai Ping Carpets, 1957
In 2014, Tai Ping returned to its Chinese roots by opening a showroom in Shanghai, and also became a part of Parisian history with the opening of The Peninsula Paris. “When we were designing the rugs for The Peninsula Paris, there was a special feeling. We all knew that we were working on something special. The building is a part of old Paris with its own history and The Peninsula Hotels have their own history too, so the combination makes the place unique not just for today, but for centuries,” says Vergez.
Each room of The Peninsula Paris displays a handmade carpet with a unique design, such as here in the Salon étoile
T he precise art of detai l Recreating the delicate refinements that define classic French interiors was a similarly intricate piece of the puzzle. Henry Leung wanted to accessorise the guest rooms with elegant curtain tiebacks and tassels and trims in The Historic Suite, but when he entered a museum-style showroom in the 1st arrondissement, he realised there was an opportunity to expand the repertoire. This is where Jérôme Declercq of Declercq Passementiers enters the scene. Thanks to the centuries-old craft that he and his sister continue to master and preserve, LiLi Chinese restaurant and The Historic Suite are adorned with several original handmade trimmings. Like many elements in the recreation of this grand hotel, the introduction of Jérôme Declercq was serendipitous. Declercq is from the new generation of artisans that maintain the savoir-faire of rare trades. Along with his sister, Elisa Declercq, he represents the sixth generation of a family of trimming makers. Declercq Passementiers still follows the traditional craft techniques begun in 1852 by a small trimming factory on 34 Rue Quincampoix. Treasures of the Declercq archives include passementerie or trimmings from the era of Louis XIV. The company’s work is also evident at the chateaux of Fontainebleau, Compiègne and Versailles, and they produced the original tassels for the Opéra Garnier and the Paris City Hall, both in 1870. “We create the same trimmings that we have done for many years: such as Marie Antoinette trimmings and the Empire trimmings from Fontainebleau. We reproduced all the trimmings by hand at Opéra Garnier, a feat that required 3,000 hours of handwork,” says Declercq. “I was amazed by their collection,” says Leung. Looking inside the many cases that house thousands of historic tassels, preserved like prized art behind glass around the antiques-inspired showroom, Leung discovered one in particular that caught his eye. The trimming appeared to be “very Chinese,” he says, and had a look that would complement his design for the hotel’s Chinese restaurant, LiLi. The collection of antique tassels at the Declercq showroom
Declercq listened intently to Leung’s fascination with the Chinese-inspired trimming, and they decided that the idea of LiLi being larger than life required a more specific tassel. “We thought ‘Why not create something that really suits the dramatic interior of LiLi?’” Leung explains.
The exceptional tassels from Declercq illustrate the blending of French and Chinese cultures in LiLi
LiLi sample tassels
Declercq Passementiers was commissioned to create four 1.6 metre tassels. It was the first time that Declercq had been asked to make a tassel of such size, which is considered gigantic by tassel standards. Each is made from 15 kilogrammes of pure silk and 40 kilogrammes of stippled fibre. It took more than 2,000 hours of work to complete the project. “We had to work to adapt our techniques. While it is possible to create such large trimmings, care must be taken to ensure they exemplify the necessary elegance,” says Declercq. The production of trimmings is complex, and several different structural techniques are used to create a single item. Large sculptural moulds were made from wood to ensure that each piece was specific, and Declercq’s team of 30 weavers, retordeurs (translated as “twisters”) and scores of agile fingers wove, embroidered and twisted threads to create braids, fringes, tassels, rosettes and other decorative passementerie. Eighty percent of the work was produced by hand, with the other 20 percent created on a wooden mechanical loom. Declercq’s craftsmanship also decorates The Historic Suite. In addition to creating the embellishments, Declercq used a special dyeing technique to guarantee a perfect colour match to the ivory and aubergine-coloured drapery. The fabric was produced by Manufacture Prelle, a family business that for five generations has produced exquisite draperies from the finest materials. While dedicated to a cherished tradition, Declercq is helping to write the next chapter of the story. In partnership with Design Percept, which created the Portrait of LiLi installation, he developed a new fibre-optic trimming. “We are adapting designs that were done before but creating modern styles with new colours and using new materials. We are still maintaining the tradition, but this is a way to keep the business of Declercq thriving in a modern age,” he says.
Oxide, painting on canvas by Parisian artist Patricia Erbelding, whose artwork is displayed in every room of the hotel
A Gallery of Timeless Art More than one thousand works of contemporary abstract art, including limited-edition pieces and special commissions, grace the public areas, guest rooms and suites, creating a modern collection to complement the exquisite classical décor
or centuries, Paris has inspired artists from across the world, and The Peninsula Paris has created an impressive art collection that respects both classic traditions and contemporary trends.
Sabrina Fung, whose Hong Kong-based company Sabrina Fung Fine Arts has created art programmes at The Peninsula Shanghai and The Peninsula Hong Kong, says curating the artworks for The Peninsula Paris needed a slightly different approach. The hotel’s collection features 1,379 works, including 150 pieces displayed throughout the public areas and speciality suites, which took almost 24 months to source.
Brushed aluminium and bronze by Nathalie Decoster
“Even though this hotel has so much history, the collection features vibrant, contemporary works that reflect the cosmopolitan nature of Paris, rather than including classical historic art. It is important to represent the surroundings when you are dealing with a historic building like The Peninsula Paris, because it offers such rich opportunities.”
The twin red oil paintings by Deçan in The Historic Suite
Curating an art collection for a hotel is very different than programming an exhibit for a museum or a gallery, says Fung “When the collection is for one of The Peninsula hotels, the feeling for guests should be like entering an art collector’s home. Unlike a gallery exhibit, there isn’t a theme to everything. You should be able to enjoy quality artwork without it overwhelming you.” By juxtaposing the historic gold leaf details and ornate stucco motifs with contemporary, abstract works by international artists, the collection enhances the hotel’s eclectic elegance. Artists from across Europe, Asia and the United States are featured, with French artists represented throughout the hotel. Mixed media works by Patricia Erbelding feature in every guest room, with bronze and aluminum sculptures by Parisian Nathalie Decoster in the Katara, Historic and Terrace Suites. An oil and gesso painting by Michel Alexis decorates the Kléber Gallery, and Deçan’s twin oil paintings add extra elegance to The Historic Suite.
The American artist Ryan McGinness created a specialedition embroidery on silk for The Peninsula Paris
‹ The Kléber Gallery displays Synesthesia 15, by Michel Alexis
Circular aluminium and bronze sculpture by the French artist Nathalie Decoster in front of the oil painting by Deçan.
Two-thirds of the collection was specially commissioned for The Peninsula Paris, including a woven silk piece in green by American artist Ryan McGinness in the main lift lobby. “This rendering is very different as this artist usually makes paintings, but this is a special-edition embroidery on silk,” says Fung
M asterpieces for today and tomorro w The art collection at The Peninsula Paris comprises masterpieces that have been carefully selected to appeal to guests both today and in future. “It is modern, but not avant-garde,” explains Fung. “The pieces are timeless, and not so up-to-theminute trendy that they will lose their appeal over time.” One of the most eye-catching artworks is a three-metre Zen-inspired marble sculpture entitled Moon River, created by Xavier Corberó, widely considered to be Spain’s finest modern sculptor. A tower of 12 different sized rocks supports a large thin marble disc, or “moon”, at the top. Corberó says that the natural environment of Paris served as his inspiration. “I wanted the piece to be refreshing, bringing the breeze from the River Seine. There is no Paris without the river, and the mystery of the full moon.” 148
The location of the sculpture in the Portugais Gallery was also influenced by nature. â€œIt is placed close to a window so that the sculpture is bathed in natural light. This emphasises its graceful presence, and enables guests to enjoy the quality of the marble and the opaque heaviness of the stones,â€? says Fung. A giant crystal installation shaped like a traditional Chinese opera head-dress welcomes guests to LiLi Chinese restaurant. New York-based Korean artist Ran Hwang hammered 32,831 crystals on pins into a plexiglass base to create this glittering tribute to Chinese opera. LiLi also showcases a triptych of traditional Chinese paper-cut panels by Taiwanese artist Jam Wu that uses paper from Chinese-French dictionaries to represent the link between Chinese and French cultures. The artist, who once travelled across the Arctic region and the Swiss countryside to survey European folk paper-cutting art, draws his creative inspirations from Chinese matriarchal folk art. For the commissioned piece, Wu searched vintage bookstores in Taiwan for a year before finally finding seven old French-Chinese dictionaries to create the intricate lace-like work. The three panels depict classic Chinese architecture, landscape and vegetation, and Chinese opera characters.
Korean artist Ran Hwang created a glittering tribute to Chinese opera with almost 33,000 crystals
Taiwanese artist Jam Wu achieved this incredible triptych displayed in LiLi with paper cut from seven old dictionaries
Austrian artist Otto Zitko's synthetic enameled paint on aluminium work, on display in the Portugais Gallery
“The work is a very interesting approach to traditional papercutting, because it is rendered in such a contemporary way,” remarks Fung. The literary theme continues in a wall-mounted sculpture in the Pérouse Gallery by American artist Simeen Farhat, who uses strips of French poems cased in pigmented resin. An abstract piece created by Austrian artist Otto Zitko using synthetic enameled paint on aluminium graces the corridor of the Portugais Gallery. “The corridor is transformed by the vibrancy of this significant piece,” says Fung, who tracked down the piece after an exhaustive search. “I once saw an exhibition by the artist featuring a big installation of aluminium panels, and I loved it. I thought it would look so good in the hotel. After a long search, I finally found it in Spain.”
Ben Jakober and Yannick Vu created The World Belongs to Me, as a modern evocation of the convex mirrors used in art for centuries
Another large sculptural installation, The World Belongs to Me, by Mallorca-based artists Ben Jakober and Yannick Vu, is displayed in a courtyard, just below the recreated bi-plane L’Oiseau Blanc. The 800-kilogramme stainless steel dome with a circular rainbow frame acts like a convex mirror, designed to reflect the entire courtyard of The Peninsula Paris, providing a unique vantage point for guests to view the surroundings. “The work is metaphorical because The Peninsula is about traditional values with a modern twist, and the convex mirror has been used in art for centuries but is given new life,” says Jakober. It is the third time the pair has worked with The Peninsula Hotels. Their stainless steel coils wrapped in fibre-optic lighting, called The Void, fill a 70-metre high space at The Peninsula Tokyo, and Curl, a six-metre tall spiral sculpture covered in more than 2,000 Swarovski crystals, overlooks the Ballroom staircase at The Peninsula Shanghai.
Lasvit, founded in 2007 by Leon Jakimič, sheds a new light on Bohemian glass and takes it into the next millennium
Masterful Glass Artistry The vestiges of more than 100 years of history flow through the veins of The Peninsula Paris, but two contemporary glass installations integrate the origins of The Peninsula Hotels with the elegant aesthetic heritage of Paris
he enchanting glass art installation Dancing Leaves in the Lobby evokes the Shanghai roots of The Peninsula Hotels’ parent company, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, and captures the Parisian essence of the hotel.
One of the most picturesque places in Shanghai to take a stroll is the former French Concession, whose streets are shaded by beautiful plane trees. In 1849, the French Consul to China signed an agreement to create a French Concession for French businessmen and traders to live. Plane trees, which were first planted along the roadsides in Paris on the orders of Napoléon to provide shade for troops and travellers, were imported to Shanghai and planted in the French Concession. Interior designer Henry Leung formed a strong visual connection with the plane trees while walking through the streets of Paris at the start of the restoration project. “I saw plane trees lining both sides of Avenue des Champs-Élysées and all along Avenue Kléber. I began to envision the leaves of the tree as somehow a welcome to the hotel’s guests that would represent France, the hotel’s neighbourhood and also the cultural exchange.”
The Lasvit team carefully hang the 800 hand-blown abstract plane leaves of the Dancing Leaves, Bohemian glass sculpture designed by Ludĕk Hroch
He suggested the idea to the architectural team working on The Peninsula Paris. “My thought was that this would really represent the friendly dialogue that was actually already going on between our two cultures: those of us who were imagining the hotel in Hong Kong and the teams we were working with in Paris,” Leung says. “We all wanted to preserve the Asian background of The Peninsula group while keeping intact the original and authentic French heritage of the building.” Leung’s idea was to create an organic installation in the Lobby, rather than dominating the space with a chandelier or fountain. “I wanted dancing leaves to come down from the ceiling and then tumble to the floor,” he says. But for this idea to become something not only tangible, but beautiful, “we had to find someone suitable to realise this kind of project,” Leung adds. Enter Leon Jakimič’s Lasvit. The Czech company combines traditional Bohemian glass-making with innovative design and technology, and had previously undertaken commissions for The Peninsula Hotels. In 2011, Lasvit designed a light installation inspired by the dynamic shape of a whirlpool for the entrance to The Verandah restaurant at The Peninsula Hong Kong, and the 10-metre-long Bird Flocks light sculpture for the main living area of The Peninsula Suite. Comprised of multi-hued spirals created from hand-blown glass, the sculpture exemplifies modern glass art at its most elegant. “Art pieces for hospitality projects always take on a more collaborative approach than collector commissions or projects for museums and public spaces. In this instance, Henry Leung had conceived a concept with leaves made of glass being blown by the wind into the lobby, then circulating through the public areas of the hotel,” says founder Leon Jakimič.
As guests pass the Rotunda and marvel at every crystal sparkle, they are blissfully unaware of the immense technical challenges of hanging the Diamond Necklace installation
crafting w ith c l arity Jakimič selected one of Lasvit’s in-house artists, Ludĕk Hroch, a master of stylistic purity, whose approach, he believed, would match Henry Leung’s intended vision. The resulting Dancing Leaves glass art installation is eight metres tall, and took a five-man team almost two weeks to construct. It features 800 hand-blown, abstract glass leaves, some of which are clear and some with silver leaves inside the glass. All 800 leaves were hand-blown over a period of two and a half months by the same artisan, who has worked with the Lasvit team for 20 years. Another 1,000 leaves, each weighing approximately one kilogramme, were specially created to use throughout the hotel. “We wanted to use our best glass blower for the project to make sure the leaves looked authentic and to create the right balance between the abstract and the authentic plane leaves,” says Jakimič. Lasvit also undertook another commission for The Peninsula Paris, a piece that Jakimič believes is entirely unique. Extending from beneath the glass skylight in the hotel’s Rotunda is a breathtaking masterpiece of lighting and glass. Diamond Necklace comprises three oval rings of various widths and lengths in the shape of a crystal diamond necklace. “With this piece, we had a little more freedom to propose something that we thought would fit the space in the Rotunda,” says Jakimič. This uniquely feminine and elegant sculpture by Lasvit is made from stainless steel, Perspex and polished crystal, and encompasses 90,000 illuminated crystal beads. These beads form three strings of pearls that are typical of 19th-century Czech bijou jewellery. The oval sculpture is inspired by the shape of a necklace hanging around a woman’s neck. It also resembles Baroque classicist architecture, since the rotunda has rounded lines and decorated stucco and cornices with the bejewelled artwork directly beneath the cupola. “The two pieces are very different in style,” explains Jakimič. “Diamond Necklace is more decorative, more like a jewellery concept, whereas the main Lobby’s Dancing Leaves installation is very organic and natural.” Lasvit’s team needed to figure out a way to suspend the lighting sculpture from one central point since the historic building interior made it impossible to drill into either the vaulted roof or the side walls. Lasvit has designed a bearing plate with 16 fixing points holding integrated stainless steel wires coming out from metal hemispheres. The sculpture is perfectly symmetric and thus stays horizontal thanks to its counterweight. A few steps away in the Lobby, the doors open, and a gust of wind sweeps in. The imagination swirls. The plane leaves hanging from the installation appear as if gathered by the breeze and released above the rock sculpture below that represents a pool. Henry Leung’s Parisian cross-cultural dream has truly come to life.
The Birth of LiLi A unique collaboration fusing design innovation with experimental technology has brought to life an apparition of a 1920s Chinese opera star
here’s a story behind the fictional opera singer LiLi, the namesake of The Peninsula Paris’ Chinese restaurant. The character is fictitious, but LiLi symbolises the theatrical star appeal of 1920s’ Paris. Her powdered face appears as if she’s a reflection in a mirror, perhaps while sitting backstage preparing for a guest appearance at the Opéra de Paris, or at a Chinese opera house.
LiLi’s portrait is a work of art, but it is not a painting, a print or a photograph. Portrait of LiLi is an art installation. It was created on nylon webbing and net fabric woven through with optical fibre to produce a glowing, flowing effect never previously achieved. The portrait combines the visions of Henry Leung, Jérôme Declercq and architect Vincent Pelligri of Paris-based RMA. Together, they entrusted their inspiration to industrial designer Clémentine Chambon and fashion designer Françoise Mamert, partners in the French design company Design Percept. Revealed beneath a fine rain of illuminated trimmings forming a moon-shaped door, the installation highlights LiLi’s face, which is printed on a woven optical fibre sheer curtain, powered by LEDs and embellished with 2,000 wooden beads wrapped in thread. At the top, a fringe of black threads and optical fibres add grace and mystery to her visage. “The fabric and trimming represent a concept as much as an application, and are the central points of the LiLi installation,” says Chambon.
Mamert adds: “LiLi is considered a fantastic experiment, and that it has found its context in The Peninsula Paris is no wonder. The project is textile design, it is an installation, a stage set and also the launch of new technologies that we’ve never done before as per the illuminated trimmings that we’ve been making with Jérôme Declercq.” It was Declercq who sparked the initial idea. He had worked with Design Percept previously on an illuminated trimming project and, as Chambon says, it all just clicked. “I went to see Henry Leung with models of the big tiebacks for the restaurant and I had some fibre-optic trimmings. He said that we should do something different with them. I returned to Paris very enthusiastic,” says Declercq. “I like the idea of an object telling a story, rather than just making an object for the object’s sake,” says Chambon, a product designer who from 2003 until 2006 worked with Marc Newson on the interior design for the Qantas A380 aircraft. She has since become enthralled with fibre-optic fabrics. “There’s this technology that creates a sort of poetry - you have a very basic textile in front of your window, it’s beautiful, it’s translucent, and all of a sudden it is a light source,” Chambon says. Design Percept had worked with Cédric Brochier, whose company Brochier Technologies has been at the forefront of developing optical fibre-weaving solutions, for the lighting components of the French Embassy in Beijing, which opened in 2011. The pair suggested that Declercq should approach Brochier to manufacture the illuminated trimmings for LiLi. “We conceived and created eight light-generating translucent curtains entitled Eight-Part Fugue,” says Chambon. The design consists of a translucent curtain screen, made of woven optical fibre and silk thread, which reveals, throughout its imposing height of seven metres, a colour gradation from white to black through different tones of grey, violet and indigo. “What these poetic and technologically innovative projects introduce is a new generation of creative light-emitting products,” says Françoise Mamert. “They are prototypes for a new use of light in architecture and daily living.”
Clémentine Chambon and Françoise Mamert, where industrial design meets fashion
The proposed concept of LiLi, though, wasn’t just to present a portrait enhanced by lighting, it was to set the stage itself. The creation would suggest a theatre stage and be housed in an oversized wooden box with a matte black finish. “It’s a metaphor for Chinese opera,” says Chambon. “There was a bit of distance given to make it more mysterious. Visitors discover the image as they walk through the gallery. Once you get closer and closer to it, LiLi draws you in even more.” The pair tell the story almost in unison about the day when LiLi was ready to be installed. While everyone was working on their own pieces simultaneously, the birth of LiLi in the gallery of The Peninsula Paris was a moment to remember. “When we put all three manufacturers together, and put all of what we had created together, it was very emotional,” says Françoise Mamert. The pair stand in front of the creation, almost as if examining it for the first time. The illumination of LiLi, her fibre-optic fabric and beads glistening, creates a glow throughout the gallery. Chambon and Mamert drink in the fruits of their labour. “We haven’t seen it since the day it was installed,” says Mamert. As they stand and stare in admiration, LiLi’s creators smile as brightly as the portrait itself. LiLi’s eyes dance, her lips glisten. She is the ghost of an era past, but here enveloped in modern light she becomes a living reflection of a team of collaborators who worked on an idea and realised a vision.
The Airplane Seeker An aviation expert continues his search for evidence to acknowledge that two French aviators crossed the Atlantic before Lindbergh. The Peninsula Paris’ rooftop restaurant L’Oiseau Blanc takes up the story
viation historian Bernard Decré takes out a small paint box from his pocket, wets a brush in a glass of water, and quickly sketches the outline of a plane. It will be his personal signature, a gift to a new acquaintance on the inside cover of his book entitled L’Oiseau Blanc. It is also a representation of the last six years of his life.
The near-perfect drawing depicts the French Levasseur PL.8 bi-plane, L’Oiseau Blanc, which left Le Bourget airport on May 8, 1927 in an attempt to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight between Paris and New York. The aircraft disappeared. It was a television news programme that brought Bernard Decré to the attention of Sir Michael Kadoorie, an avid aviation buff. A few months after Decré was featured on French television, the airplane seeker says he received a call to his office. “You have a call from Hong Kong,” said the person who answered the telephone. “It’s an Englishman who has a keen interest in aviation and wants to speak with you.”
The two men spoke on the phone. “He wanted to know more about my quest, as he wanted a great story for the restaurant at The Peninsula Paris hotel, and L’Oiseau Blanc is a great story,” says Decré. “It is a Franco-American adventure story.” Back in the 1920s, two French aviators, Charles Nungesser and François Coli, “with an old plane,” says Decré, “intended to fly across the Atlantic.” The plane was 9.5 metres in length, constructed mostly of canvas and wood and loaded with 3,800 litres of fuel. “Their planned route would take them across the Channel and over part of England and Ireland, before heading across the Atlantic. After passing Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Boston, they planned to land in waters with a history-making gesture near the Statue of Liberty,” says Decré.
Two weeks later, Charles Lindbergh made the first successful New York-Paris air journey in the famous Spirit of St. Louis, becoming the first aviator in history to cross the Atlantic. Decré has become the voice of the downed aviators, and has become internationally known for his unerring pursuit of the remains of the plane and its engine. French papers claim victory for Nungesser and Coli
A book, The Sea Hunter by novelist Clive Cussler, that Decré received as a Christmas gift from his daughter, was the initial spark. It contained 20 pages in which Cussler talks about the mysterious story of L’Oiseau Blanc as an aviation riddle second only to Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. After reading the book, Decré, an avid yachtsman who founded the Tour de France à la Voile, an annual yacht race around France, wanted to know more. “Since that moment, I began my quest,” he says. “I went to Washington, DC and searched the archives. I went to New England. I went to Saint-Pierre.” The historian begins to rattle off clues that he’s found to substantiate his theory that Nungesser and Coli did in fact reach the other side of the Atlantic. He found a telegram dated August 18, 1927, in which the US Coast Guard declared that they found two connected wings 300 kilometres from New York and 800 kilometres from Saint-Pierre, and stated “they could be those of the French aircraft.” He says he continues to search for the wings that he believes the US Coast Guard has in its possession.
In newspaper archives in Boston, he read about a lobster fisherman who, in 1966, said he had found a piece of a plane that fitted the description. Decré also found archival records that 13 witnesses heard or saw the plane heading south along Newfoundland’s eastern coast on the morning of May 9, 1927, along with later reports of debris in the area. Decré believes that storms forced Nungesser and Coli to veer off course over Newfoundland and that the airmen attempted a sea landing off the tiny island of Saint-Pierre, located about 10 miles off the southern coast of Newfoundland. He has a long-held theory that the L’Oiseau Blanc disappearance may have been concealed by US and French authorities so as not to overshadow Lindbergh’s achievement. “We are sure now that they did make it, and that they flew the first plane to make an Atlantic crossing from east to west,” says Decré. Decré has already made four expeditions to find remnants of the aircraft in the hope that a discovery would help to readjust the history books. Aerospace company Safran has a partnership with Decré and is supplying him with sonar and magnetometer equipment for his search. They are hoping Decré’s team, La Recherche de L’Oiseau Blanc (Search for the White Bird), will locate the engine because it is part of the company’s heritage. Safran bought Lorraine-Dietrich, the company that built White Bird’s 450-hp Lorraine 12 Eb engine.
Water colours by Bernard Decré : the filming of La Recherche de l'Oiseau Blanc
Even the chinaware by French porcelain Maison Bernardaud pays tribute to the plane, with an original design by Director of Collections, Catherine Bergen
Whether or not Decré finds solid evidence to substantiate his plane theory, the adventure of two French aviators is commemorated on the rooftop of The Peninsula Paris. Guests can enjoy a taste of history that includes a restored and rebuilt 1927 Levasseur engine - the same Lorraine-Dietrich engine - in the restaurant, which shares the stage with L’Oiseau Blanc memorabilia of the pilots and drawings of the flight path. But the true masterpiece flies outside the window of the restaurant. Looking ready to fly over Paris is a spectacular replica of L’Oiseau Blanc, built specifically for The Peninsula Paris by Gateguard UK Ltd in Newquay, Cornwall. The aircraft is a three-quarter sized replica of the original L’Oiseau Blanc, with an 11-metre wingspan. It is suspended to appear as if in mid-flight, and the plane’s nose is tilted towards the Eiffel Tower, the eternal centrepiece of the spectacular view from L’Oiseau Blanc restaurant.
the peninsu l a paris
and for the Next Century The Peninsula Paris opened its doors on August 1, 2014 after a four-year labour of love. A fabled historic hotel restyled with a sophisticated modern design, The Peninsula Paris blends French art de vivre with discreet Asian elements that are the hallmark of The Peninsula tradition 175
Tradition Well Served For The Peninsula Hotels’ first property in Europe, a strong emphasis was placed on one of this grand hotel’s greatest assets: its staff
aving lovingly cherished the cultural and architectural virtue of the building, The Peninsula Hotels also recognised that the hotel’s services and amenities must respect the famous Parisian desire for elegance and refinement.
Nicolas Béliard, General Manager of The Peninsula Paris, notes that The Peninsula Paris has adapted the long-standing tradition of professionalism ingrained in European hospitality and subtly blended the graciousness of an Asian welcome.
“In Asia, people are genuinely happy to see you, so we combined this with the European flair of perfection in service,” he says. “Yes, this is a beautiful building and our rooms are attractive, but if you feel something as a guest – an emotion – that is what matters. There are lots of wonderful properties in this city, but what will make a guest return is if one of my staff has shown you a courtesy or helped you discover something new. The small details really count.”
N urturing T he P eninsu l a S pirit To ensure that The Peninsula’s exemplary service standards are upheld, The Peninsula Paris implemented The Peninsula Ambassadors initiative. First introduced at The Peninsula Tokyo in preparation for the hotel’s opening in 2007, and later applied before the opening of The Peninsula Shanghai in 2009, the programme has proven successful for nurturing an understanding and appreciation of the traditions of Asia’s oldest hospitality group. “Every time we open a new hotel, we select locally hired members of staff from different departments and enable them to continue their training at one of our hotels in Asia,” says Vincent Pimont, Hotel Manager. “The essence of hospitality is taking care of people, and that means taking care of everyone,” says Pimont. “We considered everything regarding what we wanted to offer our guests, but we also applied the same thinking with regards to our staff.” The cross-disciplinary group of eight young French hoteliers, which included the manager of Cantonese restaurant LiLi, the director of front office operations and the conference and catering sales director, spent a month at The Peninsula Hong Kong. The training they received spanned several aspects of hotel operations, including front office, food and beverage, housekeeping, banqueting and catering. Upon their return, the eight new recruits shared the key elements of their hospitality training with their teams, and continue to act as peer group mentors to ensure that all guests enjoy exemplary standards of service. “When guests or diners come to one of The Peninsula hotels, they have very high expectations. For all of us who were able to experience this during our training in Hong Kong, we can bring back a little bit of The Peninsula heritage and spirit to share in Paris,” says Christophe Wong, Manager of LiLi restaurant. What takes place behind the scenes – in the back of house, a place rarely seen by guests – is also crucial for supporting staff in their daily endeavours. At The Peninsula Paris, custom-designed staff quarters provide a range of special amenities. A relaxation room enables employees to becalm both body and mind in a comfortable atmosphere. Instead of a staff canteen, The Peninsula Paris created a full-service restaurant for employees called Number 19, where a dedicated chef prepares a daily menu to rival any Paris restaurant.
The entire staff of The Peninsula Paris with Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels executives gathered on the opening day on August 1
A New Dimension in Dining The restaurants and terraces at The Peninsula Paris offer exquisite culinary experiences worthy of the City of Light, admired as one of the gastronomic capitals of the world
hen considering the gourmet offerings to impress guests at The Peninsula Paris, it was clear that the dining venues should highlight the very best of both France and The Peninsula. Even in a city such as Paris, which is globally renowned for its gastronomic culture, guests should not have to leave The Peninsula Paris to experience worldclass cuisines created by culinary masters from across France and around the world.
Jean-Edern Hurstel, The Peninsula Paris’ Executive Chef, proudly directs and implements the culinary philosophy of the hotel. “Exceptional products from the best terroirs at the right season are essential. I constantly go to the market to choose the freshest products and to speak with the local market gardeners,” Chef Hurstel explains. Consistency of excellence is the creed to which Chef Hurstel is devoted. He tastes everything prepared in the hotel’s three restaurants, The Lobby, LiLi and L’Oiseau Blanc, and the two dining terraces, plus the dishes created for room service, banquet catering and staff restaurant meals. It is this dedication to gastronomic perfection that demonstrates the importance of dining as part of the overall guest experience at The Peninsula Paris.
the l obby
T he Lobby The heartbeat of every Peninsula hotel around the world, The Lobby offers all-day international dining in a charming setting. Occupying the original grand dining room, the restaurant retains the soaring ceilings embellished by meticulously restored gold-leaf panels, motifs and paintings that reflect the glory of the Belle Époque era. Contemporary gold and glass screens, stylish furniture and live jazz music create a contemporary ambience that welcomes guests entering from the main entrance on Avenue Kléber. “This restaurant serves guests at different times of the day, for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner late into the evening, so we needed to create a versatile menu,” says Thomas Vaucouleur de Ville d’Avray, Executive Assistant Manager of Food and Beverage. The signature afternoon tea has been a cherished part of The Peninsula Hotels’ heritage since the opening of The Peninsula Hong Kong in 1928. The Peninsula Paris continues this tradition with L’Heure du Thé – a creatively adapted Peninsula Afternoon Tea featuring scones, hors d’œuvres and a selection of sweet and savoury delicacies.
l a terrasse k l ĂŠ ber
La T errasse K l é ber Unique among luxury hotels in Paris, La Terrasse Kléber is a landscaped terrace overlooking the city and the tree-lined Avenue Kléber. Together with popular breakfast menu selections, it serves the menu from The Lobby and LiLi’s Cantonese dishes to enjoy al fresco, plus drinks and snacks throughout the day. Comfortably protected by a glass and metal canopy that has already become an iconic feature of The Peninsula Paris, guests can relax and indulge in the Parisian penchant for people watching, just as their forebears did a century ago.
LiLi Inspired by the iconic Spring Moon Chinese restaurant at The Peninsula’s flagship hotel in Hong Kong, Hei Fung Terrace at The Peninsula Tokyo and Yi Long Court at The Peninsula Shanghai, LiLi serves authentic Cantonese cuisine prepared by award-winning Hong Kong chefs in a stunning dining room conceived to evoke the drama of Chinese and French opera. As an ambassador of refined Cantonese gastronomy in Paris, menu highlights at LiLi include delicate dim sum and seasonal seafood, poultry and meat dishes accompanied by homemade sauces, soups and broths. Traditional Cantonese desserts, such as rich mango pudding and egg tarts, further enhance the authentic dining experience. A private Chefs’ Table offers a unique insight into the world of Chinese cooking with seating for up to eight people in a specially created room adjacent to the kitchen. The delicate blue and white mosaic décor of the private room is reminiscent of Chinese willow-pattern chinaware. Once seated, guests enjoy an intimate experience of the skilful wok techniques and teamwork required to prepare LiLi’s delectable Cantonese cuisine. In addition to 20 types of Chinese tea, LiLi’s drinks menu was selected to complement the refined, complex flavours of the cuisine. The wine list is divided into different sections illustrated by Chinese symbols: Jade – a symbol of delicacy, refinement and elegance; Dragon – wines of unique intensity and structure; Prunus flowers – wines produced by gifted young French and European vineyards; and Ba – which represents the number 8 in Cantonese, and is symbol of wealth and success. The wines in this area of the list are vintages ending in “8”, which include a special 1908 vintage, corked in the same year as the original grand hôtel first opened its doors.
Lâ€™ O iseau B l anc
L’ O iseau B l anc The aviation-themed rooftop restaurant is inspired by the adventures of ex-World War I flying aces Charles Nungesser and François Coli, who reputedly attempted to cross the Atlantic before Charles Lindbergh. The two aviators left Le Bourget airport on May 8, 1927 in a French bi-plane, called L’Oiseau Blanc, in an attempt to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight between Paris and New York, but disappeared without trace. Located on the sixth floor of the hotel, L’Oiseau Blanc pays tribute with a thrilling collection of aviation memorabilia, including a three-quarter-sized replica of L’Oiseau Blanc suspended above the courtyard as if in flight towards the Eiffel Tower. Even the chinaware is hand-painted with an aviation theme continuing its long-standing relationship with The Peninsula Hotels, French porcelain house Bernardaud created the special chinaware at its Limoges factory featuring a design of the plane by Catherine Bergen, who also designed the chinaware for Gaddi’s restaurant at The Peninsula Hong Kong. L’Oiseau Blanc serves traditional French dishes reinterpreted with delicate contemporary flair. The terroir-themed menu focuses on seasonal ingredients sourced locally and regionally for their freshness and flavour, plus an extensive list of fine wines from The Peninsula Paris’ cellars. In keeping with the adventurous spirit of the restaurant, the wines are divided not by area, but by their personalities, with six categories named Opulence, Intensity, Structure, Elegance, Boldness and Uniqueness. Many of the wines have been selected to honour the flight from Paris to New York with a selection of Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon wines, both from France and the United States. In addition to the impressive aviation-themed interior, La Terrasse de L’Oiseau Blanc presents views of Paris’ most celebrated buildings and monuments, enabling diners to experience the visual grandeur of the City of Light.
Le bar k l ĂŠ ber
Le B ar K l é ber Step inside Le Bar Kléber and oak panelling, gilded mouldings, soaring ceilings and giant mirrors whisper tales of the building’s multi-faceted history. This venue was, after all, the location for the signing in 1973 of the Paris Peace Accords that brought the Vietnam War to an end. Just as at The Lobby, guests are also invited to further the conversation outside and savour al fresco drinks and extraordinary panoramas on La Terrasse Kléber. Although not part of the menu but retained as a timeless collection is the 15,000-bottle wine cellar in the basement of The Peninsula Paris. Guests wishing to mark a special occasion can enquire about some significant vintages. For example, specially sourced for the hotel are a 1973 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Bordeaux, to commemorate the year of the Paris Peace Accords, while a 1973 Mouton-Rothschild, with a label designed by Pablo Picasso, commemorates two distinctions – the Peace Treaty signing and Picasso’s visit to the old grand hôtel in 1922. Also served at Le Bar Kléber is the private label Deutz Peninsula Champagne, which has been exclusively featured by The Peninsula Hotels since 1988. Although the Champagne is made in France, The Peninsula Paris is the only hotel in France to serve this exceptional private label. “The common denominator between Champagne Deutz and The Peninsula Hotels is an obsession for quality,” says Fabrice Rosset, Chairman and CEO of Champagne Deutz, which was founded in 1838 and is one of the oldest members of the region’s prestigious Grandes Marques houses.
Le l ounge k l ĂŠ ber
Le Lounge K l ĂŠ ber Notable for its original wood panelling and polished wooden floors, this intimate private lounge provides a historic setting for a cigar over a quiet drink, together with exclusive cedar storage cabinets for regular guests to store their cigars.
Carefully protected against smoke by a high-tech transparent faux-plafond that enables visitors to enjoy their beguiling beauty, two paintings on the ceiling of this exquisite fumoir represent music, science and geography. Restored by Cinzia Pasquali, these artworks join her impressive resumĂŠ, which includes restoring paintings by Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre, and master works at the Palace of Versailles.
Where Hospitality meets Diplomacy Inspired by the recent history of 19 Avenue KlĂŠber, which was used as an international conference centre by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the companyâ€™s own Chinese heritage, The Peninsula Hotels pays homage to three French diplomats who helped build bilateral relations with China. 212
hree conference suites at The Peninsula Paris have been named after these eminent ambassadors: Auguste Boppe, who developed the Work-Study Programme in 1919; Lucien Paye, who supported recognition by the French government of the People’s Republic of China in 1964; and Claude Chayet, a key figure in the nuclear cooperation deal between France and China in 1982.
A uguste B oppe (1917-1921) The grandfather of Pierre Boppe, former CEO of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Auguste Boppe was the French Plenipotentiary Minister in Beijing from 1917 to 1921. He focused on developing cultural relations between France and China, believing that a better mutual understanding of the diverse cultural heritage of each country would help create a closer union. At the end of World War I, Auguste Boppe revitalised the Work-Study Programme for thousands of young Chinese people. Among those to benefit were central figures in the development of modern China, such as Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai, plus senior Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials who helped cement relations with France. L ucien Paye (1964-1969) On January 27, 1964, France became the first leading western country to establish formal diplomatic relations with China’s communist government, demonstrating its commitment to forging a proactive foreign policy during the dark days of the Cold War. Between 1964 and 1969, Lucien Paye was the first French Ambassador to China, and his work is considered crucial to the development of the strong Sino-French economic and cultural ties that exist today. C laude C hayet (1979-1982) Nuclear energy cooperation between France and China in the early 1980s helped create a long-term industrial partnership, and influenced China’s opening up to foreign investment. The process began with the signing of an agreement in 1982 facilitated by CLP Holdings, a Hong Kong-based electricity company, whose Chairman, Lord Kadoorie, supported the use of French technology to build China’s first nuclear power station. Claude Chayet was the French Ambassador in Beijing from 1979 to 1982, and he helped negotiate the nuclear power agreement with China, a country in which he had spent part of his childhood from 1927 to 1933, and where he witnessed the arrival in Beijing of the Croisière Jaune, a famous car journey along the Silk Route by two French drivers. As the Chargé d’Affaires from 1964 to 1966, Chayet opened the French Embassy in Beijing following the resumption of diplomatic relations between France and China.
Chinese WorkStudy Programme participants about to leave for France, with Cai Yuanpei (President, Peking University) and Auguste Boppe (second row, 9th and 10th from left), June 30, 1919, Beijing
The Art of Staying in Style 214
Inspired by the Parisian tradition of personalised haute couture, the guest rooms and suites at The Peninsula Paris blend French heritage with modern comforts and high-tech amenities
The Peninsula Suite
raciously located on Avenue KlĂŠber, The Peninsula Paris offers 200 exquisitely styled rooms, including 34 sumptuous suites, five of which feature a private rooftop garden with spectacular views over Paris. Designed to meet the requirements, while also exceeding the expectations, of discerning modern travellers, The Peninsula Parisâ€™ guest rooms are among the largest in the city and the most technologically advanced in the world. In addition to the bedroom, living room and bathroom, each room offers a selfcontained dressing area and walk-in closet, a large electronic safe, a luggage rack for two suitcases, internet radio and a weather display panel.
T H E P eninsu l a suite
The Peninsula Suite
Traditionally The Peninsula guestroom electronics are designed in-house and assembled from bespoke components.Customised interactive digital bedside and desk tablets can be preset in one of 11 languages, and full control of all in-room functions is just a touch away, enabling access to restaurant menus, hotel services and TV channels. Unique Peninsula features include the signature full-length valet box for discreet pick-up and delivery of laundry, dry-cleaning and polished shoes. The guest rooms and suites were designed by Henry Leung of CAP Atelier in conjunction with The Peninsula Hotels’ in-house team. Bespoke craftsmanship was central to realising Leung’s stylistic vision. Furniture was exclusively handcrafted for The Peninsula Paris by some of the world’s top designers, including chairs and ottomans by Rosello, and sofas and bedframes by Laval, which are both French companies, writing desks and bedside tables by Austrian designer Robert Wolte, coffee tables from Cassina in Italy and carpets by Tai Ping from Hong Kong. London-based Helen Amy Murray is another nouveau artisan. Originally inspired by the domes of Paris’ Grand Palais, Murray created bed headboard wall artworks, fashioning the sculptural carvings in leather with each painstaking cut raised to create a three-dimensional effect. The technique involves several handcrafted processes including embroidery and sculpting layers of material to create the surface relief. It is then either stretched onto panels, surfaces or directly onto a wall. “The beauty is that even though the design theme is consistent throughout the guest rooms, no two panels or rooms are identical,” Murray says. For the guest rooms, the inspired lines from the Grand Palais are tinged with Art Deco motifs and Parisian architectural influences, while The Peninsula Suite features abstract Art Deco patterns, and the leather wall artwork in The Katara Suite has an abstract, pleated geometric design.
T H E K ATA R A S U I T E
T H E K ATA R A S U I T E
Jean-Baptiste Chavance from Ateliers de France fully appreciates the uniqueness of each room. His team undertook most of the room restoration and supervised the decoration of the suites. “The technical integration, restoration and decoration were completed by constantly keeping in mind a respect for the origin and tradition of the materials we used,” says Chavance. In particular, he notes the distinctive marbling of each guest room bathroom. “The marble pieces were chosen one by one in the Carrara quarry. Every piece was patiently paired to ensure the same veins and motifs for each room.” France’s leading heritage designers also contributed to recreating the interior glory of this grand hotel. The silks and brocades in the suites were hand-woven using a specially selected silk by Prelle, a family business founded in 1752 in Lyon. Silk was also used for the room curtain tie-backs, created by Declercq Passementiers, founded in 1852, which also produced the trimmings for LiLi and originated the restaurant’s iconic art installation. Another highly skilled family business is Rémy Garnier, a bespoke ornamental metalwork company, founded in Paris in 1832. It restored numerous historical elements from the original building and recreated the mirror frames, door and cabinet handles, keyholes and decorative hinge concealers in the guest rooms and suites. Three themed suites, The Katara Suite, The Peninsula Suite and The Historic Suite, represent the ultimate in grand hôtel style, comfort and sophistication. While masterminding the restoration project, the design teams pored over historic photographs to recreate every unique detail from the original hotel. In The Historic Suite, for example, sepia-tinted photos enabled the team to ensure the same claustra and chimney positions were used as a century ago, and helped faithfully recreate the trellised dining area.
The mosaic in the Historic Suite’s bathroom was created with original tiles found during the restoration
The Historic Suite
T H E H I S T O R I C suite
garden terrace S U I T E
de l uxe guest room
The World’s Most Bespoke Hotel Room Long known as pioneers in the research and development of innovative guest room technology, The Peninsula Hotels has introduced the most personalised guest rooms in the world at The Peninsula Paris
evolutionary in-room technology not only complements the chic elegance of the new interiors but also sets new standards for guest customisation
Offering new levels of creativity and innovation, the personalised in-room experience features fully customised interactive digital bedside, desk and wall tablets pre-set in 11 languages - English, French, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Spanish, German, Arabic, Korean, Russian, Japanese and Portuguese – so that all facilities and information throughout the entire room can change according to the guest’s language preference.
The Opéra Garnier perfectly reflects the Haussmannian style under the second Empire, which is now part of Paris' signature.
Full control of all in-room functions is a mere touch away, including the in-room collection of restaurant menus, hotel services, the “PenCities” virtual city guide, personalised streaming terrestrial TV, internet TV and radio, mood lighting, curtain, valet call, weather, thermostat, language and privacy options. Meanwhile the signature en-suite marble bathrooms offer LED touch-screen panels for terrestrial and internet TV and radio, while mood lighting with customised ambient spa settings delivers a luxurious, integrated light and sound experience for indulgent relaxation.
In-room entertainment options include state-of-the-art audio visual centres with flat-screen, Blu-ray LED televisions and tablets with 90 terrestrial, cable and satellite TV channels, 460 Internet radio stations and complimentary HD movies, iPhone/ iPad docking stations, memory card readers and Sound Bar virtual surround sound speaker systems. Meanwhile wireless connection to personal electronic devices and to the all-in-one fax/printer/photocopier/scanner gives guests the seamless functionality of a home office, plus multiple device chargers for added convenience. Complimentary high-speed wired and wireless Internet access also means that international IDD calls via VOIP are free in the guest rooms, while free wireless access and local calls are also available when travelling in the hotel’s Rolls-Royce and MINI fleet. These systems have all been developed in-house by The Peninsula Hotels’ Research & Technology Department (R&T), an industry leader in innovative guestroom technology. The Peninsula is the only hotel company in the world with its own research and development facilities to design, build and customise equipment to serve the group’s guests, versus just buying and installing standard available technology as used by other hotel groups. All Peninsula in-room technological systems are proprietary, and are never sold to other companies. The in-room technology is created and then tested to perfection by the R&T team, comprising 27 electronic, software and hardware engineers who are able to respond to guests’ every need through a combination of observation, innovation and technological know-how. Located in Aberdeen on Hong Kong island’s south side, the team of white-coated engineers strive to provide user-friendly, intuitive technology for today’s increasingly demanding and sophisticated hotel guests to enhance comfort and the overall hotel experience - whether on business or vacation, the technology is there to assist guests with work or simply to relax with the room as their sanctuary. Since its inception in 1985, R&T have created, designed and developed cutting-edge in-room facilities for the group’s ten hotels, and also work closely with manufacturers of off-the-shelf items such as TVs to re-design remote control devices to be as simple and user-friendly as possible for guests. While each hotel has an R&T team in-situ, the team can also control and monitor the electronics in every guestroom around the world from an elaborate control panel in their laboratory at HQ. With the aim of delivering new bespoke room experiences where guests can choose how they access the hotel’s services, and as technology and guests’ expectations continue to develop at breakneck speed, the R&T team must not just keep up with, but stay ahead of, requirements. Tasked to deliver what guests want before they know they want or need it, the R&T’s twin mantras are “technology is all about people” and “you shouldn’t have to think – it just happens”. A catalyst to invention, the thought and development process comes from a variety of sources, including intense observation when travelling (in Peninsula hotels and elsewhere) ranging from how guests move around the room to staff efficiency and beyond.
Every element must serve guests, help them unwind and keep them connected, informed and at their best. At its heart, the issue has always been a continual evolution of design – always asking, “How does this work?” and “What can we do better?” “Innovation is – and has always been – an integral part of The Peninsula Hotels’ DNA,”says Peter Borer, Chief Operating Officer at the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels. “Our guest focused technology elevates our guests’ stays to a whole new echelon of trend-setting luxury, and we firmly believe that our rooms in Paris are the most advanced – and bespoke – in the world.”
A Sense of Wellness The Peninsula Paris Spa is a deluxe retreat where soft lights, relaxing Asian music and the scents of cedar wood and eucalyptus imbue an ambience of serenity and relaxation
he Peninsula Paris Spa is an oasis of calm where guests can enjoy a selection of signature treatments that blend Asian, European and Ayurvedic philosophies, plus hammam-style relaxation rooms, dry saunas, aromatic steam showers and deluxe treatment rooms. The tailored treatments feature the ESPA Collection and Biologique Recherche products, a made-in-France brand with offices around the corner on the Champs-Élysées
The Spa also features a heated 20-metre indoor pool - the largest hotel swimming pool in Paris. The serene pool features a striking floor-to-ceiling “waterfall” mosaic that provides guests with a Zen-inspired backdrop all year round.
the s w imming poo l
“Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it,” Henry Royce (circa 1905)
Ready to Rolls The Peninsula Paris is the only hotel in the French capital with its own customised vehicle fleet, including a treasured 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II
eep in the basement of The Peninsula Paris, the garage door slowly rises. The revelation is truly spectacular: an immaculately restored 1934 vintage Rolls-Royce Phantom II, sister to those at The Peninsula hotels in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. It is the unquestionable star of the hotel’s cherished car fleet, a marque that is one of the most successful super-luxury cars in the world, and for nearly a century, the preferred choice of royalty, Heads of State, celebrities and VIPs. The Peninsula and Rolls-Royce have been associated in excellence for over 40 years, in a record-breaking partnership that began in 1970 with the hotel’s first order for seven Silver Shadows. This particular vintage Rolls-Royce, however, required a total restoration to match the heritage and splendour of the hotel and to take one back to a bygone era. “Sir Michael Kadoorie took a special interest in this car,” says Martin Oxley, who is no stranger to the fleet of Rolls-Royce cars for which The Peninsula Hotels have become globally renowned. Oxley, a former apprentice mechanic at RollsRoyce Motor Cars in London and who also handled the British royal family’s fleet of Rolls-Royce and Bentley limousines, has been The Peninsula Hotels’ vehicle fleet manager since 1995.
The classic Sedanca de Ville town car that is used by invitation only and for special occasions is a complex car to restore, as most original models were bespoke to meet their owner’s specific requirements. With more variations than any other Rolls-Royce model, obtaining spare parts is not always straightforward. It was “a real labour of love,” says Sir Michael. Four years were spent in the workshop of Keith Bowley’s Ashton Keynes Vintage Restorations, in Wiltshire, England, where a specialist team of master craftsmen attended to the extensive, yet delicate, task of refurbishing and re-equipping this legend of the road. “No two Phantom II vehicles are identical,” says Bowley. “It all depends on how the car has been maintained. When these cars were first built, they usually had a chauffeur who looked after the car as well as driving it. But over the years, the tender loving care that a chauffeur would have given it when the car was his pride and joy, lapsed.” Given its age, and the fact that it was built for a much gentler motoring environment, the ability of the Phantom’s original brakes, gearbox and engine cooling system to cope with today’s Parisian traffic is testament to the engineering skills of its creators. With attention to detail being a hallmark of both The Peninsula and Rolls-Royce, a large number of features were developed to ensure the Phantom II met the exacting needs of the traffic conditions of today.
Keeping guests cool in summer was a prime consideration. Refrigerated air conditioning was installed, with front vents for the chauffeur and roof vents for the passenger compartment. Other features now include a refrigerator and cocktail cabinet, a multi-function phone that operates through an original valet phone, and free Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB ports. Leather hides from Connolly were used to trim the seats and doors with traditional West of England cloth for the roof-lining. Back in the basement of the hotel, where a newly created garage accommodates 57 cars, Oxley describes the fully functioning auto workshop designed exclusively to ensure the Phantom II’s continued longevity. “We have spare parts, tools and all the equipment needed, and a mechanic will be brought in. If rectification work is required, it can all be undertaken here,” says Oxley. Working on the Phantom II has been very rewarding, he adds. “There’s something simply spectacular about the history of this car that will thrill guests at The Peninsula Paris.”
CUSTOM-DESIGNED FOR COMFORT The signature Phantom II turns heads on every drive along the boulevards of Paris. So, too, do its companion cars in The Peninsula Paris’ automobile collection, which are all finished in The Peninsula’s signature dark green livery and feature dozens of modifications to enhance the express comfort for guests.
In addition to the 1934 Phantom II, a 2014 Extended Wheelbase Rolls-Royce Phantom features a number of custom modifications, including re-engineering of the boulevard lighting system to give maximum illumination for passengers when entering and alighting from the car. Even the smallest details were subject to scrutiny – new counter-sunk screws were developed for the specified much enlarged luggage compartment, to eliminate the slightest chance of scratching guests’ luggage. The rest of the car is also finished to exacting standards. The burr walnut veneer was selected for its natural beauty and quality, and is taken from a single tree to ensure that the colour and grain match perfectly across the interior. Sir Michael and Oxley also worked with MINI engineers and designers to develop two customised Peninsula Edition MINI Cooper S Clubman vehicles – a stretch version of the classic Cooper hardtop – which are perfect for navigating the narrow streets of the French capital in style. “Each MINI has a tailor-made rooftop box to make the most of a shopping spree on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré,” says Oxley. Guests staying in any suite at The Peninsula Paris may enjoy complimentary use of the chauffeur-driven MINIs, which feature a custom-illuminated Peninsula logo on the tread plates and leather finishing of the highest specification available. A fleet of 10 BMW 7 Series long-wheelbase sedans also provide trend-setting standards and comfort. The 7 Series is the BMW flagship, embodying beautiful design, impeccable ergonomics and, in this case, many Peninsula custom features. To conclude, a classic Citroën 2CV “fourgonnette” or small van completes the Peninsula tradition of providing guests with iconic transport options, which include a tuk-tuk at The Peninsula Bangkok, a helicopter for scenic flights at The Peninsula Hong Kong, bubble cars at The Peninsula Beijing, and a luxurious river yacht at The Peninsula Shanghai. Bringing its own whimsical touch of French automobile history to the streets of Paris, the 2CV van, which was produced in 1955, has been meticulously restored by a specialist workshop in Nice, and features the original steering wheel and leather upholstery. The van is used to make deliveries around Paris, and pick up guest requests.
Every element of the restoration, renovation and restyling project at The Peninsula Paris has been seamlessly woven together to create truly unforgettable Peninsula experiences for guests today, and for the next century. Thanks to the contributions of all the artisans and experts documented in this book, this splendid historic hotel in the heart of the French capital has been reborn, with a sophisticated modern design and world-class, 21st-century amenities and services. As Sir Michael Kadoorie concludes: â€œOur guests are seeking a truly Parisian experience combined with the superlative hospitality for which The Peninsula Hotels is renowned around the world, and we want each guest to take away their own special memories.â€?
The Peninsula Paris
The Peninsula Hotels
19 avenue Kléber 75116 Paris, France Tel: +33 1 5812 2888 Fax: +33 1 5812 2999 Email: email@example.com www.paris.peninsula.com
8/F, St. George’s Building, 2 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong Tel: +852 2840 7788 Fax: +852 2810 4306 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.peninsula.com
President Renaud Vertalier email@example.com
Unit 503, 5/F the L.plaza 367-375 Queen’s Road Central Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2543 7311 Fax: (852) 2543 7211 firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor-in-Chief Christophe Chommeloux email@example.com
Creative Director Caroline Laleta Ballini firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright 2015 by The Peninsula Hotels. All rights reserved. This publication and all articles and pictures may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, in whole or in part, without the express prior written permission of the publisher.
Sales Manager Alexandre Grey email@example.com
Photography Xavier Béjot, Antony Crook, éric Cuvillier, Fabrice Dunou, William Furniss, Fabrice Rambert, Antonio Saba, Jam Wu
The Peninsula Paris Book is published by International Publishing Concepts Asia Ltd.
Commissioned Contributors Christophe Chommeloux, Daniel Jeffreys, Michelle Solomon
T H E P E N I N S U L A PA R I S
La création d’un chef-d’œuvre parisien
A book realized for The Peninsula Hotels by Christophe Chommeloux (text) and Caroline Laleta Ballini (visual)
Published on Apr 16, 2015
A book realized for The Peninsula Hotels by Christophe Chommeloux (text) and Caroline Laleta Ballini (visual)