Hôtel de Crillon

Even though it was a holiday weekend and things were relatively quiet in the city, I am resolved to make the most of my time in Paris and go out as often as possible.

After dinner last night, I headed to the piano bar at the Hôtel de Crillon to have a drink and listen to some live music. The Crillon is, perhaps, the finest luxury hotel in Paris and one of the very few to provide live music on Sunday evenings.

Despite the la crise, everyone in the place was American, except for the two bartenders and the pianist. Realizing that we were all from the States, we began chatting with each other during breaks in the music. One woman had roots in my hometown of Chicago - the north suburbs to be more precise. Her father co-founded a little pharmaceutical company. Perhaps you've heard of it...it's called Baxter Healthcare.

She was an elegant, friendly and grounded woman. So much so that she declined a 60 euro glass of port wine because it was too expensive. Without compunction, she asked for the drink menu, read it from right to left, and ordered something else - a Midwestern sensibility and a woman after my own heart!

The next day, she and her husband would be taking off for Provence to meet up with several other couples who have homes there - an annual week of golf outings and informal tournament play. Then, they would be on to St. Tropez, Nice and other towns along the Côte d'Azur. I suppose it's safe to say, you meet the right crowd at the Crillon hotel!

The Obamas happen to be staying at the hotel as well. This led to an interesting conversation about the past few days at the Crillon. Apparently, the hotel was as boring as could be when Barack was there. No one was allowed to see the President. In fact, large black curtains and screens were placed in the hallways to ensure that no one could see the President.

On previous nights, the bar was empty. Hardly anyone was allowed into the hotel and staff was standing around with little or nothing to do. Everyone seemed quite happy that Barack had departed and things were getting back to normal.

Michelle and the girls are still there. Security is present, but reduced. The square in front of the hotel remains partially closed and, I have to say, I had never seen the Crillon so empty. I snapped a few photos because the architecture and furnishing are magnificent.

In addition to all of this "gossip," I learned a lot about the history of the hotel and the square on which it sits. Everyone seems to know that Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI lost their heads to the guillotine on the Place de la Concorde, but how many people know they were married there? I had no idea.

I also had no idea that the Crillon was owned by the same company that owns Baccarat crystal and Taittinger Champagne. It has recently changed hands, but this former ownership structure is the reason that Baccarat crystal is used throughout the hotel and Taittinger is the house Champagne. The light fixtures in the bar are Lalique, but they pre-date the "Baccarat era" and they were kept.

I was given a book outlining the history of the hotel, the building and the square. I was also invited back by a member of the staff for a private tour, including the suites and Marie-Antionette's music room, which has been carefully preserved. The entire staff couldn't have been nicer or more welcoming.

I can hardly wait for my tour!

A view of the hotel on Saturday morning, while Barack Obama was in the city.
The main entrance to the Crillon.

The stairway to the reception and ball rooms.

The lobby, which features Baccarat chandeliers hanging from the ceiling
and torcheres lining the east wall.
The Piano Bar, designed by French fashion designer Sonia Rykiel,
features Lalique ceiling fixtures.

Our courteous bartenders.

Our very talented pianist, who played many requests beautifully.

10, place de la Concorde
75008 Paris


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