< MONACO | MONTE-CARLO: Hôtel de Paris
The Hôtel de Paris was completed in 1864 on the arid Spélugues plateau at a time when Monte-Carlo was just beginning to take shape. Everyone was talking about the brand new and splendid Casino Belle Epoque opposite it. Thanks to the support of Prince Charles III, and that of the Société des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers, the millionaire François Blanc took on an incredible challenge, to transform land where only olive and lemon trees grew into a place for sumptuous festivities and luxury gaming, The results went beyond his wildest dreams.
To accommodate the gamblers who flocked from all over Europe to discover the new face of the Principality, he built a hotel based on the Grand Hôtel on the boulevard des Capucines in Paris — “a
hotel better than anything ever created before.” Originally built with 100 rooms, the property was designed by the architect Dutrou.
People came in droves. The international elite turned up, kings, princes, heads of state, ministers, top names from governances, industry, the sciences and the arts. It was the start of the great social whirl at the Hôtel de Paris. The hotel was enlarged no less than seven times and benefited from a romantic destiny that saw it become part of the history of the Principality and, indeed, of the world.
In the summer of 1878, the Monte-Carlo Opera and the new gaming rooms designed by Charles Garnier were built. The Hôtel de Paris immediately acquired an international reputation, hosting numerous society events including balls and charity galas. A succession of high profile guests including artists and financiers such as Rockfeller, Rothschild, Vanderbilt and Gordon Bennett would base themselves at the hotel.
The First World War dampened the sparkle of life in Monaco but when peace returned, the Hôtel de Paris once again became not only the meeting-place of the international elite but, also, the headquarters of Diaghilev, Lifar and Kochno who created the great moments of the Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo. During this time, lavish dinners hosted by the King of Sweden, Gustav V, at the Hôtel de Paris were the talk of Europe’s high society.
The Second World War saw the Hôtel de Paris become a shelter for political refugees. At the end of the hostilities, the victory of the Allies once again allowed the Hôtel de Paris to welcome its international clientele including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Winston Churchill and Errol Flynn whose wedding in 1952 attracted the Hollywood glitterati.
The Hôtel de Paris has hosted many other historical events such as the 20th wedding anniversary of His Serene Highness Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco in 1976 and the 100th birthday of General Nicolaieff, the hotel’s oldest guest. In May 1974, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the accession of His Serene Highness Prince Rainier was honoured at a lavish dinner which was also the first official function attended by the young Prince Albert, Heir to the Throne of Monaco.
The Hôtel de Paris is a shrine to gastronomy with Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV restaurant, La Salle Empire, a genuine ornamental and architectural masterpiece, The Grill, a restaurant with panoramic views on the top floor and, Le Côté Jardin for buffet lunches.
The hotel also provides outstanding meeting and banqueting facilities with 11 meeting, banqueting and conference rooms ranging from 30 to 120 sq. metres, all named after famous former guests of the hotel: “Charles III”, “Churchill”, “Beaumarchais”, “Ravel”, “Debussy”, “Bosio”, “Alice”, “Massenet”, “Berlioz” and “Puccini”.
Although, for over a century, the Hôtel de Paris has undergone continued renovations, it has always succeeded in combining luxury with tradition. It is today one of the world’s last great luxury hotels to offer not only the most modern services but also, a guarantee of a spectacular and splendid setting.
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