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INTERCONTINENTAL PARIS LE GRAND

A FIVE STAR NAPOLEON III LANDMARK IN THE HEART OF PARIS

By Gilles Malaisé

grand_hotel_paris_intercontinental

Affectionately known as «Le Grand Hotel», the largest and most impressive palace hotel in Paris celebrates more than 150 years of history. Inaugurated on May 5, 1862 by Empress Eugenie, spouse of Napoleon the IIIrd, to the fanfare of an orchestra led by Offenbach, this was the largest hotel in the world. A gem in the heart of the entirely new district of the Opera House, finalizing Baron Haussman's  pharaonic works to transform the old, unhealthy Paris into the «City of Lights». Kings, queens, maharajahs and sultans from all over the world have stayed in that caravanserai: from last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia and King Edward VII of England up to Queen Rania of Jordan. Victor Hugo hosted banquets at the hotel, and Emile Zola had his decadent and tragic heroine, Nana, die in a flowered room at the fourth floor. More than ever a famous and fashionable hotel, the InterContinental Paris Le Grand attracts lots of statesmen, fashion designers, international movie stars and directors who eventually used it as a dreamed shooting location (Polanki's «Frantic», Robert Altman’s «Prêt-à-Porter», etc.).

Totally revamped in 2003 by its present owner, the InterContinental group, it retained the elements and amazing atmosphere of its original glory. The rooms design has been reestablished in the Second Empire style. Many parts of the actual hotel kept their original decor. The Salon Opéra, for instance: the most sought after ballroom in Paris, known all around the world thanks to the high-fashion shows, is well worth the visit. Another landmark, the legendary Café de la Paix, which is a precious part of the Grand Hôtel, is a treasure of Empire-style architecture, where the ceiling, columns and wall painting have been carefully restored.

grand hotel paris presidential suite


When some illustrious Parisian palace-hotels live out of their former glory -the neighboring Ritz is a an example on how a legend can go downhill- the Grand Hôtel, a modern product in 1862, still gets it all in 2013 to seduce nostalgic and geek travellers alike. Shouldn't it be for the pay-per-use Internet in the rooms (but free-of-charge in all public areas and Club Lounge), we would say that our stay was 99% faultless; which is rare enough to be mentioned.

All 470 rooms and suites are lovely: including those oriented to the inner courtyards and monumental glass-roofed bar-restaurant «La Verrière». We loved the classy furniture, precious fabrics, and sumptuous bathrooms with L'Occitane toiletry. Concealing the latest technologies: high-tech air-conditioning systems, up to 40 television channels from across the world on flat plasma screens, films on request, dual telephone lines and high-speed Internet connections, they have it all to make you feel like in Paris.

We would nevertheless recommend anybody visiting the French capital city for the first time, or on a romantic trip, to straightly book into one of the rooms with a dramatic view on the Opera House. The higher the better: the InterContinental Club rooms are splendid, comparable with what one could ever expect from a more expensive palace-hotel in Paris, just like Crillon or Meurice. Well worth the EUR 60 extra charge to the basic room rate, they come with an unexpected bonus which we used very much: the classy VIP salon (Club Lounge), actually unique in Paris where no palace offers this treatment,  is open to the club’s guests. Spacious, covering two levels, it overlooks Paris and, of course, the Opera House. The Club Lounge opens early in the morning, serving a fine breakfast which we enjoyed the first day only; alternating, the day after, with the traditional, so classy Parisian -and Japanese!- breakfast experience provided in style by Le Café de la Paix. The Club Lounge serves yummy, top quality hot and cold snacks (our memory -and scale- can't forget the delicious home-made «Foie Gras» and unforgettable, mouth watering macaroons!), fine wines and Champagne; employing a well trained, very educated and thoughtful staff. This is what we would call the first class section in a first class hotel.

We loved the bar, opening onto the Verrière conservatory: a superb, ritzy and romantic winter garden with a fine restaurant. 

grand hotel paris verriere


The «Spa by Algotherm», splendid and well appointed, is the only spa in the centre of Paris to offer the benefits of thalassotherapy: revitalizing and relaxing sea water treatments, beauty care, traditional and oriental massages. The Gym features a running machine, electronic cycling machines, steppers, body-building apparatus and a sauna.

The hotel is so large that we didn't realized that the InterContinental Paris Le Grand is, first of all, a  top class convention venue, with more than 21 meeting rooms and ballrooms. So many visitors, and still so much intimacy...

In the heart of the capital’s bustling business district, just a step from the main tourist sights, department stores (Galeries Lafayette, Le Printemps), and luxury boutiques, this is one of the most lovable hotels in Paris.


INTERCONTINENTAL PARIS LE GRAND: 2, rue Scribe,  75009 Paris
PHONE: +33 (0)1 40 07 32 32     FACSIMILE: +33 (0)1 42 66 12 51
TOLL FREE CALL: +800 80 800 800
E-MAIL: legrand@ihg.com 

grand hotel paris sarah bernarhdt



GASTRONOMY AT THE INTERCONTINENTAL PARIS LE GRAND

café de la paix paris

A landmark, The Café de la Paix is since 1862 one of the leading brasseries in Paris. Attached to the Grand Hôtel, with an outside terrace facing the Opera House, it remains nowadays one of the most sought after tourist spots in Paris. Like the Eiffel Tower or the Lido, it is given the cold shoulder by the Parisian who certainly consider it as a tourist trap. It is not. Of course, the lavish dinning room, designed by Garnier (architect of the Opera House), sounds like Babylon: echoing a multiplicity of foreign languages. Asian and American tourists just swear by this cafe, once visited by Emile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Sergei Diaghilev, and so many statesmen and movie stars. 

This is a brasserie indeed; not a «grand restaurant». Those who are not patient enough to wait five minutes to be seated in the noisy, animated dinning-rooms or terraces will feel frustrated somehow. Which is a pity, as we got there a more than decent gastronomic experience. 

The recently appointed Chef Christophe Raoux worked with Manuel Martinez, Guy Legay, Michel Roth, Guy Martin, Gérard Besson and Alain Ducasse: an outstanding experience for this multi-awarded young gentleman, bearing fruits up to our plate. Though many clients just come here to enjoy the reputed «Plateau Opera» (a rich selection of seafood from the counter, at EUR 49), we preferred to order more sophisticated dishes, reflecting Raoux's skill. The «Chicken Oyster Risotto» (EUR 36), gravy seasoned with capers and sage, country crisp, was  close to perfection and served in a generous portion. We warmly recommend the palatable «Sea-bass Dieppe Style» (EUR 39), with baby spinach shoots, delicious garlic confit; just ignore the pale cultivated mushrooms which break the relief of the emulsion. We got it all «à la carte», and will next time experience the very attractive and much affordable «Garden Market & Before Show Menu» (EUR 46 for starter + main course + dessert) which featured, the day of our visit, a very appetizing «King Prawns, Macquerel, Puff Pastry Tart» : the kind of dish which will certainly, sooner or later, honor Raoux with a merited Michelin star. The pastries are classic, classy and worth the visit: the Millefeuille (EUR 14) is a best seller, but we would like to recommend the lighter, certainly more interesting, so refreshing «Yellow and Red Grapefruit, Litchis, Red Fruit Tea, and Grapefruit Sorbet» EUR 13). We got it all with a seducing Burgundy, «Mercurey 1er Cru en Sazenay, Domaine de Suremain, 2006» (EUR 55 / bottle): complex and perfumed, it came with a cool fruit and cinnamon notes pairing well fish and seafood.

A must be seen, the Café de la Paix is worth the experience. This is Paris!
 

CAFE DE LA PAIX: Angle Place de l'Opéra - Boulevard des Capucines - 75009 PARIS
PHONE: +33 (0) 1 40 07 36 36 - FACSIMILE: +33 (0) 1 40 07 36 13
E-MAIL: info@cafedelapaix.fr
 

 
    
 
 
 

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