Paris ‘Palaces’ Controversy: Off with Their Heads!

Place de la Concorde and the Facade of Hôtel de Crillon

As I watched the rainbow-colored display of cyclists zoom around the place de la Concorde during last Sunday’s final stage of the Tour de France, I was nagged by only one discouraging thought. No, it had nothing to do with cycling or the fact that an American wasn’t going to make the podium. It was about that grand and imposing building bordering this famous place and how it’s no longer officially considered une palace de Paris. Yes, I’m talking about the renowned Hôtel de Crillon, the place where Queen Elizabeth stayed when she visited Paris many years ago. It’s, in fact, the glorious abode chosen by Lance Armstrong after several Tour finishes when he was at the peak of his reign. It’s sandwiched in between the American Consulate and the Residence of the American Ambassador in Paris. And if you can’t make it to Versailles, have tea here and you’ll have a taste of eighteenth-century French grandeur that will more than satisfy all your senses and sensibilities.

Le Jardin d’Hiver of the Crillon

La Galerie at the Four Seasons George V

The Suite Imperiale at Hôtel Ritz

Here’s what I wrote about Les Palaces in my book, The Riches of Paris:  A Shopping and Touring Guide:

The French have two words for a palace:  palais and château. Somehow it seemed fitting, however, to adopt the English word palace in the early 1900s to describe the glorious grand hotels that were then being built in Paris. What began as a marketing move to attract prominent British tourists soon stuck and, today, when one refers to les palaces de Paris, most people know that this includes a select few. Six palatial hotels worthy of being called palace exist today in Paris, and once you step into one you will know why. The historical significance of each is remarkable, but it’s more likely the profound attention to detail of each fine establishment that puts them head and shoulders above the rest of Paris’s splendid hotels. The six include Four Seasons Hôtel George V, Hôtel le Bristol, Hôtel de Crillon, Hôtel Meurice, Hôtel Plaza Athenée Paris and Hôtel Ritz. Even if you don’t plan to spend the night, I wholeheartedly encourage you to stop at one of these bastions of tradition, the crème de la crème of all the world’s hotels. You may breathe in their allure for the price of un café or just a tour around the lobby. Be sure to dress up for the occasion.

Haute Dining at Les Ambassadeurs at Hôtel de Crillon

Well, the French Government Tourist authorities took the Crillon, the George V and the Ritz off this haute list recently and to that I say merde! Excuse my French, but this is truly ridicule. This unthinkable erreur has the hospitality industry in France in an uproar. And no one has provided a sufficient explanation of any of it. If my opinion, it’s encore de la politique. Here’s a good article to read about all this hubbub.:  Iconic Hotels Feel the Snub as High-Class Lodgings Get Palace Rating.

This just confirms something else I wrote about in my Paris book:  Be wary of the star ratings with hotels. I’ve found fantastic two-star establishments that in my opinion warrant three stars and four-star establishments that would do well to receive a three-star rating. C’est souvent n’importe quoi. You can tell that all this has my dander up.

I stick by the palace classification I provided above. You go to Paris and see for yourself and you’ll understand why.


Apparently the powers-at-be came to their senses and the Four Seasons George V was reinstated as a palace. I guess the jury is still out on le Crillon.

Thank you to the Hôtel de Crillon, the Four Seasons George V and Hôtel Ritz for the use of the photos in this story. Photo credit:  Eric Cuvillier and others.

Zee Presidential Suite at the Four Seasons George V

The Celebrated Paris Ritz on the Renowned Place Vendôme

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