If you find yourself staying in one of the luxury hotels in Paris this spring, consider spending an evening in a piano bar during your city break. You can always rely on a hotel piano bar to offer a sophisticated atmosphere and is the perfect end to a day of sightseeing with a cocktail and some relaxing live music tinkling in the background.
The Saint-Germain-des-Prés arrondissement is a good place to find nightlife and the Hotel Bel-Ami has an excellent piano bar with live music from 6pm. Still in the 6th arrondissement, the Bar de Lutetia at the hotel of the same name offers piano music and “lute-jazz” on other evenings. This Art Deco luxury hotel on Blvd Raspail is well known as a landmark building on the Left Bank.
The Hotel de Crillon on Place de la Concorde, one of Luxique’s top luxury hotels in Paris, has a lively bar where pianists Joel and Bernard play until 1am. It is the ideal place to hang out before or after dining in the Michelin star restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs.
For a more British influence, try the Dukes Bar at Hotel Westminster on rue de la Paix. Throughout the week there is a pianist for the cocktail hour from 6.30 to 9.30pm and at weekends there’s a jazz singer until late.
Those looking for a luxury hotel bar with cultural connections will find just what they’re looking for at the piano bar at Hotel de Banville. Named after the poet Theodore de Banville the lobby bar has superb entertainment with pianist Franck Monbaylet, guitarist Frederic Kakon and vocalist Marianne Moreau.
by Gillian at Luxique Luxury Hotels
The Palace of Versailles outside Paris is to transform one of its satellite buildings into a luxury hotel.
L’hôtel du Grand Contrôle, the traditional home of the chateau’s treasurers, is to be converted into a luxury hotel with 23 bedrooms. Some will look out over The Orangerie, the palace’s elaborate greenhouse, and others will have a view of the Swiss ornamental lake. The hotel could be ready as early as the end of next year.
A concession has been granted to the Belgian company Ivy International SA to renovate and develop the building, which dates back to the 17th century but is currently in a dilapidated state. The work is expected to cost 5.5 million euros (£4.6 million/$7.3 million).
Versailles, a UNESCO World Heritage site deemed one of the crowning achievements of 18th-century French art, is one of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions.
The development paves the way for a series of French projects aimed at exploiting the economic potential of listed buildings while securing their renovation.
Another royal palace, the Chateau of Fontainbleau, south of Paris, is preparing to appeal for bids to develop its listed Heronniere barracks next year. “We have to find a purpose for these buildings to avoid them falling into ruin,” said Jean-Francois Hebert, President of Fontainbleau. “One of the ways will be to set up an upmarket hotel complex.”
by Andy Moreton/AFP
Luxique offers you a choice of accommodation at some 70 luxury hotels in Paris,including the Trianon Palace in Versailles.
The French have had to concede that London offers a better experience for tourists than Paris.
The Paris-Il-de-France Regional Tourism Committee commissioned a survey to explore ways to boost international visitors. To the surprise of many, London was placed ahead of five other European cities, including Paris, Rome and Berlin.
The report found that tourists liked London better than other cities for its taxis, restaurants and landmarks, including Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.
The city was given an impressive score of 82 out of 100 for the welcome it offered visitors from abroad. Paris – officially the world’s most popular tourist destination in terms of number of visitors – tied in second place on 79 with Amsterdam.
So what’s so wrong with Paris? Well, public transport is considered poor, with tickets difficult to buy and the Metro looking increasingly old and dirty.
Paris hotels – which have shot up in price in the decade or so since the introduction of the euro – were also found wanting, with a total mark of 74 per cent, compared with 89 per cent for London.
One fault that was found with Londoners was that so few were able to speak a foreign language.
by Andy Moreton
Paris or London? Do both! Luxique can direct you to the best luxury hotels in Paris and London – and at the best available rates.
Within two years, there could be a single smart card allowing travellers to ride the London Underground, the Paris Metro and the New York Subway.
The company running the tube, Transport For London (TfL), is speaking to its counterparts in the United States and Europe about the possibility of harmonising the ticketing systems. With millions of tourists crossing the globe to visit major cities for business and leisure, the aim is to simplify their travel and spare them the bureaucracy of buying a local card.
In London, most commuters pay for travel using a top-up card known as an Oyster, which has been in place since 2003 and is used by about seven million people. TfL plans to run a ‘contactless payment’ scheme as an alternative to Oyster, allowing people to use public transport by scanning their debit or credit cards on a special reader.
The next technological step would be to develop a common internationally accepted card, making life considerably easier for the tourist.
- London’s museums and galleries enjoyed a blockbuster summer as recession-hit Britons stayed at home and an influx of foreign tourists swelled visitor numbers. Attendances were up by an average of 11 per cent, with some attractions enjoying a 24 per cent boost
by Andy Moreton
Luxique has an unrivalled selection of the finest luxury hotels in London – some large and traditional, some small and chic.
There might be severe belt-tightening and worried workers protesting on the streets, but Paris will still see four new five-star luxury hotels in the next fifteen months.
The first opened this week. The Royal Monceau, near the Arc de Triomphe, was previously a standard class hotel, but it’s been transformed by the celebrated French designer, Philippe Starck, into a luxury hotel in Paris, art gallery and club for what he calls ‘the smart tribe’.
Starck said that the hotel – now owned by the sovereign fund of Qatar and managed by the Singapore-based Raffles hotel group – was an attempt to recreate French modernity.
The three other luxury hotels are also being built (or rebuilt) with Asian or Middle Eastern capital. The Shangri-La, due to open in December, has been created by a Hong Kong-based group from a private mansion on the Avenue d’Iéna, with stunning views over the Seine to the Eiffel Tower.
The Mandarin Oriental (another Hong Kong funded project) will open next summer on the Rue Saint-Honoré, close to the Tuileries gardens and the Louvre, while the old Majestic Hotel on the Avenue Kléber is being converted (Qatari money again) into a 200-room ‘palace’, to be called the Peninsula-Majestic.
Paris is littered with beautiful sites, shops and expensive restaurants but is, surprisingly, under-supplied with top-of-the-range hotels. It has only seven establishments in the ‘super-luxury’ class, compared with 14 in London.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique’s travel experts have hand picked 63 luxury hotels in Paris and they’re available to book at the best possible rates.
When visiting Paris, it’s always fun to go to a flea market to see what old bargains you can pick up to adorn your home. But for one unfortunate British couple, this signalled a chain of events about which they are still probably pretty embarrassed.
Their find was a 19th century live artillery shell, and it caused a major security alert when they tried to board the Eurostar train back to London. Explosives experts, firemen and police were scrambled to the Gare du Nord, the main Eurostar terminal in Paris, and services were held up for at least an hour.
The device dated back to France’s Third Republic, around 1885, when the whole country was full of live explosives following the Franco-Prussian War.
“Live explosives are strictly banned on all cross–Channel services, no matter how old they are,” said a French customs source. “All kinds of banned articles are picked up every day, but this is the first time someone’s tried to get through with a pre-First World War shell in their luggage.”
The unnamed couple, who thought their purchase was ‘a nice souvenir’, were cautioned about their behaviour before being allowed to return to Britain. The shell was confiscated and destroyed.
by Andy Moreton
The French capital is an explosion of colour and vibrancy at any time of the year. Book your luxury hotel in Paris through Luxique – we have an unrivalled selection of classic and modern.
The popular Pompidou arts centre in Paris now has a smaller cousin 170 miles to the east.
The Metz Pompidou will have no permanent collection of its own but will show, in six-month or yearly rotations, parts of the vast collection of 65,000 contemporary works held by the Pompidou in Paris, most of which are never displayed.
There are also spaces in the spectacular new building for other contemporary art forms, including cinema, modern music and dance.
Metz, the capital of the Lorraine region, is hoping to recreate the success of the European arm of New York’s Guggenheim museum, which has transformed the fortunes of Bilbao in northern Spain since 1997.
The director of the Metz Pompidou, Laurent Le Bon, said: “For us it’s a little French Revolution – yet it’s such a simple thing. We are just saying that the big collections are for everyone, not just for Paris.”
This is the first stage in a drive to decentralise the French state’s enormous art collection. A branch of the Louvre will follow in 2012 in Lens, a former coal town only an hour from the Channel Tunnel.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique has an extensive selection of luxury hotels in France – including some of the best that Paris has to offer.
Paris may be the city of love, but the authorities there have called a halt to one romantic tradition that’s gone just too far.
The trend of attaching small padlocks, with messages, to two of the capital’s bridges as a sign of undying love began about two years ago. Now, there are almost 2,000, and the French capital’s town hall has announced that they’re defacing the bridges and have to stop.
The cadenas d’amour (love padlocks) are on the Pont des Arts, which links the left bank of the Seine to the Louvre, and the Passerelle Leopold-Senghor, between the Tuilerie Gardens and the Musée d’Orsay.
A town hall source said the practice posed the question of preserving heritage – the rusty locks were becoming an eyesore on photogenic monuments.
Paris is the latest in a string of tourist sites to be struck by the love-lock craze, whose origins are unclear.
In Pécs, southern Hungary, lovers have been clamping padlocks to a fence in a street linking the mosque in the city’s main square and its mediaeval cathedral since the 1980s as a sign of commitment.
In Florence, Italy, love padlocks have been fixed to the railing at the centre of the Ponte Vecchio.
And love-struck sweethearts also favour Mount Huang, China, where it’s customary to ‘lock your soul’ together and then throw the key over the edge of the cliff into the misty valley below.
by Andy Moreton
Let Luxique unlock the secret to a truly memorable stay in the French capital. We have a selection of some of the best luxury hotels in Paris – both traditional and modern.
Parisians have been marking the 100th anniversary of the day the Seine burst its banks and filled the city with torrents of muddy water.
Thousands of residents were forced from their homes and power was cut off for months.
To commemorate the 1910 flood, Paris’s Galerie des Bibliotheques is exhibiting a collection of photos, postcards and witness accounts. Among them are sepia shots of bowler-hatted men travelling piggyback, trousers hoisted up and knee-deep in water; people pulling up to Notre Dame cathedral in boats, and food being delivered by ladder to second-floor apartment windows.
But while present-day Parisians view the old scenes with a smile, there are warnings that it could happen again – and be ten times worse, despite various flood defence measures put in place over the years.
“The flood is unavoidable,” said Louis Hubert, director for the Paris region at France’s Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development. “What we can simply say is that we are almost certain to see new considerable floods, but we don’t know when.”
Paris museums such as the Louvre have a flood plan by which priceless objects are removed to a safe house in a town north-west of Paris – if they get enough warning.
by Andy Moreton
The exhibition at Galerie des Bibliotheques is on until March 28th. And if you’re planning a visit to France’s romantic and historic capital city, browse through Luxique’s unrivalled selection of luxury Paris hotels.
Some of the most important museums in Paris have been hit by strike action. Parts of the Louvre, as well as the Pompidou Centre and the Musée d’Orsay, were closed on Wednesday.
The strikers are upset about a government policy to replace only one in two of retiring public servants. After first being applied to government ministries, it’s now being extended to organisations owned by the state, including museums. There’s a fear that this will cripple French museums.
The work stoppage began at the Pompidou modern art museum on November 23rd and unions had warned that the strike could spread.
The Louvre welcomes 8.5 million visitors a year, the Pompidou Centre 5.5 million.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique has a super selection of luxury Paris hotels – both classic and modern.