Welcome to a new article about ‘Paris Life’ (European Travel), which is all about living the high life at the Ritz!
“La vie de palace” : The palace life in French. I don’t know if you also have this expression in English. In French it means living the high life.
That’s the life I dream to have, I guess as you do, and probably as everybody does. But my problem is that I don’t really have the budget to live “la Vie de Palace.” So from time to time, for a few hours each month, I’m offering to myself a luxurious life.
I go to Parisian palaces to savour an exquisite tea or a delightful coffee. In Paris it’s quite easy to experience the chic life because Paris has many palaces. But, like you, I’m a woman of taste and I’m quite picky about palaces. I don’t like all Parisian palaces, ah non. I don’t like modern ones. I prefer the vintage palaces where I can have conversations with famous customers from the past. One of my favorite palaces is the Ritz hotel .
Located in the 17th century place Vendôme, this five star establishment is not only one of the most prestigious hotels in the world, it’s also a time travel machine. I suppose you know already that this magical place was founded in 1898 by Cesar Ritz, a Swiss citizen, who took as a partner the inventor of the French cuisine, the genius chef Auguste Escoffier.
As soon as you smell the delightful amber scent your travel can start. First you will see the ghost of the elegant Coco Chanel climbing the stairs to her suite.
Then you’ll admire the delicate Marcel Proust. You can’t miss him, he is the pale man on the painting in the tea room , with a melancholic look, a little moustache and a white magnolia pin on his black jacket. He is the writer who wrote the best French novel from the 20th century “In search of the lost time”.
Marcel was a regular customer at the Ritz. It’s here he found the Belle Époque characters of his book. If you are a writer, you can find inspiration too, by tasting Proust’s favorite desert : A vanilla ice cream with litres of coffee.
If you are a tea drinker, of course Proust will suggest you taste a black Assam tea with a light Madeleine cake.
Maybe you are more keen on alcohol. So imitate Hemingway who escaped the American prohibition and visit the Hemingway bar to drink the delightful cocktails. But go very early because in half an hour this tiny and charming bar from the Roaring Twenties is full. After one Bloody Mary I can’t resist Scott Fitzgerald who is watching me with a sensual look while he is eating one by one the flowers I refused from him ( yes this crazy episode really happened at the Ritz ).
Maybe like Ingrid Bergman you will fall madly in love, while you are in the lounge, with a sexy French photographer as talented as Robert Capa. Love is in the Ritz air.
Oh! I almost forgot the French prince of the poets and best friend of Edith Piaf, the artist Jean Cocteau who liked to stroll in the Ritz gallery.
But the Ritz has something unique in Paris… The toilets. They are gorgeous! I know it may sound a bit pedantic but I can say without blushing that I am an international Paris toilets expert. First you’ll be welcomed by the portrait of Louis XIVth in ‘le boudoir’. Then you’ll be in the bathroom, and you will be mesmerized by the taps which are golden swans.
And when it’s time to leave this extraordinary palace, please have a thought for Lady Diana who spent her last night here as Coco Chanel did.
You will say goodbye to the serious man who wears a wig and a lace collar on the painting near the fire place. This is Monsieur Hardouin Mansart, the first architect of the king. This brilliant man who worked for Louis XIVth is the architect of the beautiful place Vendôme.
And before leaving the Ritz, don’t forget to read the plaque on the wall at the exit. It’s about Armand-Louis de Gontaud Biron, more well known as the Duke of Lauzun. This aristocrat whose nickname was “le Beau Lauzun” used to be one of the favorites of Marie-Antoinette. He fought very bravely with the “insurgents”, (that was the name the French gave to the future Americans) under the orders of Rochambeau at the decisive Yorktown battle in 1781.
It’s Lauzun who was in charge to ride his horse from Yorktown to Versailles to announce to King Louis XVIth the good news : the French and the Americans had defeated the British.
The Ritz used to be his home, it was Lauzun’s mansion until his death. Unfortunately this glorious gentleman died guillotined during the French Revolution when he was only 46 years old.
I warn you, after having met so many great characters your landing in the modern world may be a bit painful. But you know what my prescription is if you find your own life a bit dull. Go back to the Ritz and have la Vie de Palace!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article about living life as a local in Paris, and I can’t wait to share some more Paris life inspiration with you soon! In the meantime, don’t forget to check out all the other fabulous posts about European Travel (Senior Editor – Julia Rees), and by the other Editors and follow The Code of Style on Instagram.