by Sean Hillen
With star jasmine spreading gracefully across its front wall above a garden patio with hedgerows, trees and potted plants, Pavillon De La Reine could be a countryside chateau anywhere in rural France.
Instead, it lies in the heart of Paris, Place des Vosges in the lively Marais district in the 3rd arrondissement, a few meters from the former home of renown 19th century author Victor Hugo whose literary works include Les Misérables.
While within easy walking distance of restaurants, art galleries and a nearby public garden, this elegant 56-room boutique-style property remains in quiet seclusion, tucked away from the street at the end of a short covered walkway.
Even on first glance, this renovated 17th century property oozes charm, a rustic image enhanced by Japanese maple and holy olive trees adorning its front courtyard where wicker chairs and black metal tables with umbrellas for shelter and shade beckon one to sit and relax. Above are rooms with French windows and balconies with wrought-iron rails. There are also bikes parked here for guests to use free during their stay.
The interior is tastefully designed by Didier Benderli of Kérylos Intérieurs. On the right is a lounge-cum-library with soft armchairs and a wall filled with shelves filled containing novels by authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Gustav Flaubert and art books on Picasso and Chagall. Opposite is a room with a marble fireplace and an honor bar, including what I consider to be the best of French pastis, a sign for me of a quality bar, Henri Bardouin from Provence, with 65 different ingredients. This is also where breakfast is served, a diverse buffet of meats, cheeses and fruits where we also enjoyed a veritable bucket – so large were the cups – of delicious hot chocolate.
Overall, the ground-floor features original antiques, richly-colored oil portraits of aristocratic faces and contemporary-styled furnishings. ‘Anne,’ is the name of the restaurant, with a menu designed by Mathieu Pacaud. It was closed while we were there so I cannot comment much on it. The hotel also features a 250 square meter spa, with hammam, Jacuzzi, gym and two treatment rooms.
Each of the rooms and suites feature a different style and décor, so make sure to ask in advance if you prefer antique or modern. Our suite, 60, on the 3rd floor, comprised four separate rooms. Our living room, with view on to a side-street, featured gray and gold wallpaper, matching sofa and two Queen Ann armchairs, an espresso machine, a writing desk and a mini-fridge. Standard in-room amenities also included a flatscreen TV and iPod dock.
A built-in wardrobe provided ample space and standing lamps were placed strategically placed around the room. Understanding what could best be termed intriguing ‘micro paintings’ on the walls was a challenge, with my companion concluding they were ‘trails of a snail on tree bark.’
Our bedroom was a haven of tranquility, facing an interior courtyard, ivy clinging to the walls around us and a large red-leafed plum tree below in the grassy square. Our bathroom had a combined tub and rainfall shower with toiletries by Codage of Paris.
If you’re interested in upscale accommodation in Paris that is a little more personal than your typical five-star hotel, this could be the place for you.
While staying there, take a short taxi ride to see one of the most intriguing art spaces in Paris, Atelier des Lumieres. Founded by Bruno Monnier, the President of Culturespaces in a former disused foundry, this Digital Art Centre displays works by world-known artists such as Cezanne and Kandinsky in a multimedia show projected on the huge walls, floor and ceiling of this industrial building. The result is an immersive experience in the worlds of these two painters, their landscapes and inspirations, accompanied by music. Exhibitions run until January 2023.