A boutique hotel for tourists, a modern one for business travelers
By Lucy Komisar
I was walking along the rue de Rivoli in Paris and noticed a banner on the huge stone H´tel de Ville, the city hall. It announced an exhibit, “Du Refuge au Pi¨ge (From Refuge to Trap), The Jews in the Marais.” It documents the arrest and deportation of Jews by the Paris police on orders of the Nazis and French collaborationists.
The exhibit was mounted on the 60th anniversary of the return to France of survivors of the camps. Mayor Bertrand Delano« said the purpose was “to definitively reject indifference, hate and barbarity.”
Jews had lived in the Marais since the 13th century. The quarter still has shops, restaurants, a museum of Jewish art and history and the famous synagogue of the rue Pavée. It is, as it were, a living museum. But so, I realized, is much of Paris, which you see by serendipity – as I did the exhibit — as you wander through the city.
Walk a few minutes south from the city hall to the Seine, and you will be on the small, intimate Žle Saint Louis. It‘s the island next to the Žle de la Cité, which holds N´tre Dame. On the small main street is a building that Louis XIII constructed in 1634 as a court for a racquet sport called Jeu de Paume. He was trying to get people to move to the island and through this would be a draw! Real estate hasn‘t changed in centuries!
But the building changed through the centuries, after the sport lost favor. Still, the 300-year-old beams remained. In 1988, the old building was reconstructed by an adventurous architect and, voil , there is the boutique H´tel du Jeu de Paume. It is a perfect tourist hotel, located on a charming narrow street that exudes picture-postcard Paris.
Among my favorite features are an intimate lobby library and an unusual dining room with marble pillars and wood beams. It has a painting of the eponymous sport. The lobby library was just the place for me to have a chat with an editor of “Le Nouvel Observateur” – a prominent weekly news magazine. Curiously, when he heard where I was staying, he suggested it! It was like being in my own living room.
The living art of Paris is in its street life, and on the right bank, the Champs-Elysées is a prime location for that – and for sitting at cafés watching people pass. On one warm evening, the cafés along the boulevard were jammed.
Doesn‘t this café appear a prime subject for immortality in paint? It was a convenient step around the corner to another hotel where I stayed, the Warwick Champs-Elysées.
The Warwick is a popular business hotel. And the restaurant Le “W” (stands for Warwick, not you-know-who) is presided over by Franck Charpentier, cited in the book of “Ma®tres Cuisiniers,” the master chefs of France, for 2005. That is quite an honor; there are only 24 chefs listed for Paris! For those who eat and run, the Warwick is just blocks from the Air France bus terminal and RER train station at the Arc de Triomphe.
There‘s a contemporary feel to the Warwick Champs-Elysées, with modern art in the lobby and internet connections in the rooms. G. Paul LeBlanc, a spokesman for Warwick International Hotels which has headquarters in Paris, says that each hotel in the group is related to the community. For this Warwick, clearly that means stylish modern food and art!
Exhibit “Du Refuge au Pi¨ge” (From Refuge to Trap), The Jews in the Marais, Aug. 2005.
H´tel de Ville
29 rue de Rivoli