Le Meurice: Top Locale for Museum-Goers

Le Meurice Belle Etoile Diner romantique
The Belle Etoile suite at Le Meurice has a private terrace where a romantic dinner can be enjoyed while taking in 360-degree views of Paris.

There is much to be said about Le Meurice in Paris. The historic hotel, part of the Dorchester Collection, carries palace status and has hosted royalty and heads of state since it opened in 1835. It’s highly adored by those who stay there; the guest roster includes celebrities and other high-profile guests, who enjoy its opulent suites and Michelin-star dining.

What charmed us the most, however? Its location provides amazing access to the top Paris spots to visit. The hotel is set on the busy rue de Rivoli between the Place de la Concorde and the Musée du Louvre, which is just blocks away, and sits across from the Tuileries Garden. A walk through the expansive garden is always a good idea, and it’s a fun way to spot Parisian families enjoying lawn games or taking a whirl on the garden’s carousel.

Le Meurice BAR

Le Bar 228 has a backdrop of dark wood paneling and frescoes dating back to 1907.

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If you’re in a walking mood, go for it. A sprint through the gardens will take you to a bridge across the Seine and you’ll find yourself on the Left Bank. Steps away is the Musée d’Orsay, one of the most spectacular museums in the world and home to masterpieces by Ingres, Delacroix, Monet, Degas, Manet, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh, to name but a few.

Say you don’t want to go that route. Say, instead, you want to make a left when you leave Le Meurice and walk a few blocks. You’re at Le Louvre. You’re also at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which is currently running a blockbuster exhibition through January 7 commemorating the 70th anniversary of the House of Dior. If you haven’t been, this is a must see for fashion lovers, as it’s a comprehensive overview of Dior’s designs as well as those who succeeded him, including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. Secure tickets via the hotel’s concierge but be prepared to still wait on line to get in (it moves quickly), as this is a big attraction to locals and visitors to Paris alike.

Le Meurice Le Dali Niall Clutton

Le Dalí has been updated by star architect Philippe Starck, while Alain Ducasse has recreated the menu of the restaurant.

But, back to Le Meurice and what goes on inside. To acclimate yourself at once, step in to the wood-paneled Le Bar 228 and request a Bellini from Chief Barman William Oliveri, who has worked at Le Meurice for 40 years and served Salvador Dali, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Claudia Cardinale and Sofia Loren. He’s most discrete about the celebrities and heads of state he’s hosted, but he may have a humorous tale or two to tell you.

Le Bar 228 is typically a pretty swell mix of Parisian locals and international guests, and a jazz pianist plays in the evening from 7 p.m. to midnight.

What we loved: The sophisticated imbibing vibe carries on in the guestrooms, where minibars are stocked with half bottles of champagne, and there are a variety of brands from which to choose, including VeuveCliquot, Krug, Deutz and Bollinger.

Room-wise, we recommend reserving an Executive Suite or higher, for these accommodations provide thrilling views of Paris, which include the Tuileries Garden, a clear vista of the Eiffel Tower (be sure to look at it at night when it’s all lit up like gold and casting a special glow over the city), the Louvre if you look left and “the Great Ferris Wheel” to the right.

Le Meurice Presidential Suite

The Presidential Apartment has Louis XVI-era inspired furniture and affords views of the city skyline and Tuileries Garden.

Of the suites, the Belle Etoile is tops, literally. Its private terrace provides 360-dgree views of the city, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Sacré Coeur. A sitting room, dining room, kitchen and a bedroom comprise the suite, which can be connected to additional rooms to make it a four-bedroom.

Deluxe Suites are a great option as well, with a separate living room to spread out in (think Louis XI furniture, including a pretty writing desk) and bedroom with a comfortable king bed or two twin beds. The marble bathroom has a separate bath and shower. Deluxe Suites measure more than 800 square feet in size and can connect with other rooms, making them ideal for families.

Le Meurice actually has connecting rooms on every floor, which works well for those traveling with an entourage, or clan in tow.

Marie-Pierre Morelle ([email protected]), the director of sales at Le Meurice can assist with bookings that need special care. The hotel is run by General Manager Franka Holtmann.

Le Meurice Pompadour Suite

The pompadour suite has an 18th-century feel and is spread over 377 square feet of space.

Preparing for our stay, we were assisted by Patrick in the concierge department ([email protected]) in setting up a luxury transfer from the airport to the hotel. He and the team recommend the following for local shopping: Place Vendôme on rue Saint-Honoré; Palais Royal and the Saint-Germain district just across the Seine River on South bank. The hotel also has insider contacts with the VIP service at Galeries Lafayette to create a lovely afternoon of shopping. They can also set up a private visit to an atelier of a well-known fashion designer, just ask.

A visit to a spa in Paris is a must, and Spa Valmont at Le Meurice is just the ticket after a day of perusing the city’s streets, cafés and museums. For those seeking a bit of rejuvenation, the “Wrinkles & Firmness Ritual Elixir” will do the trick. That, combined with the “Relaxing Massage with Essentials Oils” will have anyone up and running and ready to face the City of Light the following day. The spa director, Caroline Janin ([email protected]; 011-33-144-581-077) is the top contact for unique requests for that special client.

Le Meurice Spa Valmont

Spa Valmont at Le Meurice  helps guests eliminate stress and rejuvenate through its specialized anti-aging  treatments and massages.

We’ve left dining at Le Meurice for last, as that is an experience likely to set memories for years to come. The hotel’s two dining establishments were recreated recently by designer Philippe Starck and the hotel’s star chef, Alain Ducasse, as was Le Bar 228, mentioned above. At the two-Michelin-star “Restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse,” the top dish is the Brittany lobster with sea potatoes.” At Restaurant Le Dalí, the “Red mullet stuffed with herbs, socca and cooking jus” is the way to go. Planning an extremely special evening? The Chefs’ Table close to the kitchen is available for 450 euros, with a full-course menu, bien sur! Book as far out as possible as this is a popular pastime with the Paris elite.

Fans of all-things-Ducasse  should visit “Le Chocolate of Alain Ducasse” at 40 Rue de la Roquette. Here, you can purchase his unique chocolate spread to take home to friends and family; it’s made of almond and hazelnut praline, plus dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Hint: Buy two containers; you’ll want to keep one for yourself.

Christian Dior Exhibit

We’re just back from Paris and the Christian Dior, Couturier du Reve exhibition at The Musée des Arts Décoratifs on rue de Rivoli at the Louvre. The show spans the 70-year history of the House of Dior. Following are photos we snapped as we enjoyed the dazzling display. Hurry if you haven’t been, it closes January 7. 

Christian Dior passed away in his early fifties of a heart attack; Yves St. Laurent then took over and was followed over the decades by Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and, most recently, Maria Grazia Chiuri, known for her “We should all be feminists” tee shirts. Their work is on grand display at the exhibition.

Visit www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr for more information. 

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