Interview with the General Manager of the InterContinental Paris Le Grand

Interview with the General Manager of the InterContinental Paris Le Grand
What is unique about your hotel's location?

The InterContinental Paris Le Grand is located in the heart of Paris, across from the Opera house, mere steps away from the Place Vendôme, where one finds all the great jewelers of Paris and near the Printemps and Galeries Lafayette department stores. The InterContinental Paris was inaugurated in 1862 by the Empress Eugenie and parts of its interior are classified in the National Monument listing. It is an integral part of the history of Paris, built, as it was in a then new area developed by the Baron Haussmann which ended with the construction of the Opera House and the Avenue de l'Opera. Eighty-two of our rooms and suites have magnificent views of the Opera House, which is beautifully illuminated at night and where, during day, if you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a dance session by famous Opera stars.

What authentic local experiences will guests have access to?

Obviously, the first authentic local experience is our own Café de la Paix, a historical landmark for the past 150 years. Many world-famous guests have dined here and continue to do so. The outside terraces have stunning views of the Place de l'Opera. Other authentic, local experiences include a visit of the Museum Jacquemart-André, set in the private mansion of Mr Edouard André and his wife Mrs Nélie Jacquemart, which houses their impressive art collection; Having tea in the small garden of the Musée de la Vie Romantique, former home of a number of the 'Romantic Period' painters and writers, or a stroll over the Pont des Arts, a wooden footbridge over the Seine, with a spectacular view over the Ile St Louis. We enrich our guests stays by ensuring they experience the true history and heritage of Paris in the hotel and the authentic, often less obvious, aspects of the city and Parisian life out of the hotel.

What are some amazing things that your Concierge can arrange?

Philippe Lesigne, our Chef Concierge, can set you off on a sightseeing tour of Paris in a typical French car from the 1960's, "the 2CV" (2 chevaux, meaning 2-horse power). Few of these cars remain in circulation and have, therefore, become collector's items. The Concierge can arrange for you to bring a picnic basket with you and have lunch in the beautiful Parc Monceau. Other 'In the Know' experiences are a private tour of the single existing vineyard of Paris, located on the Butte Montmartre. This vineyard, normally closed to the public, produces around 1700 50cl bottles of wine per year.

Does your hotel have a philosophy?

The InterContinental Paris Le Grand is a living witness to the history of Paris. Our archives have been transferred to the City of Paris Archives as they are such an integral part of Parisian history. The total renovation in 2003, during which the hotel closed its doors for a period of 18 months), was carried out in this same historic spirit and largely succeeded in its goal of restoring the Empire style. It even went a step further, admitting the Opera house by using red fabrics, music-theme pictures and music scores. The spirit of Paris is very much present and permeates the hotel at every turn. This history is coupled with a convivial, contemporary service.

What makes your hotel memorable and unforgettable?

Our guests find themselves immersed in the city's timeless but ever changing spirit whether they leave the hotel or not. The typical Parisian spirit, coupled with the breath-taking Atrium and features such as the historical Opera ballroom, give one the impression of actually reliving the vibrant history of the past 150 years of this hotel. We are proud of our Parisian heritage, passionate about the city and keen to share true Parisian experiences, in an elegant but convivial ambience

What will guests rave about to their friends and family?

They will, and do, rave about the beautifully-appointed rooms, peerless views and breath-taking public areas! The professional level of the service offered by our staff, added to our on-going exploration of new and innovative ideas in the area of personal attention are among the advantages on offer to ensure that each and every guest feels singled out and very special. We have just been awarded 9th place in the Best Leisure Hotels in Europe, Russia and Minor Asia by the Condé Nast Traveler. There are not a single other Parisian hotels in this Top 10.

What is the atmosphere of your hotel? What type of guests does it attract?

The atmosphere in the hotel is quiet and ageless, a completely unanticipated retreat from the busy hustle and bustle of the streets. The contrast between the rather austere, Haussmanian architecture on the outside and the bright airiness within the hotel, starting with the Atrium, is both interesting and unexpected. Staff and guests together, create a convivial and serene atmosphere that further enhances the lightness and quiet. The Café de la Paix and the Bar are renowned and much sought-after places for Parisians, who like to meet here for a meal or a drink beneath the stars.

What makes your hotel a destination within itself?

Its rich past and history. We organize historical visits of the hotel for visitors, our own guests or Parisians alike. These visits last for a whole hour as there are so many things to tell and so many stories and anecdotes to relate. The hotel's historian has written 250-page book, enriched with engravings and pictures, proving that the InterContinental Paris le Grand is a destination within itself.

Do you have a favorite meal in your restaurant(s)?

The Café de la Paix changes its menu with every season and the daily menu every 2 weeks. Our Chef takes pride in promoting small-scale farmers and heirloom varieties of tomatoes. As a starter, the Café de la Paix salad is in itself a veritable work of art. The traditional seafood platter is an absolute must and the entire dessert range is deliciously mouthwatering. However, you should not leave the Café de la Paix without having tried our world-acclaimed millefeuille, made from a secret recipe…(shhhh !). Café de la Paix is also the only restaurant in the world to offer all year long on its menu pastries designed by fashion icons such as Paco Rabanne, agnès b., Elie Saab or Marithé + François Girbaud. We offer a new Fashion Pastry every 4 months!

What is the best way for guests to "arrive in style" to your hotel?

Due to our involvement in Sustainable Development, numerous actions have been put in place for recycling, reducing our impact on the environment and participating in a variety of community actions. We encourage our guests to participate by arriving from the airport in a hybrid limousine booked through our Concierge Desk.

Do you provide any welcoming or parting amenities to guests?

We provide welcome amenities that vary from Café de la Paix chocolates to an embroidered bathrobe for a child. These amenities always include a handwritten welcome note from myself.

Can you recommend other destinations/hotels nearby (within 300 miles) that your guests should consider combining into a trip?

We recommend a visit to Vaux-le-Vicomte, a magnificent 17th century castle surrounded by beautiful gardens. The best time to visit is when special events are organized, such as open air Opera performances in the garden, plays for children based on the Fables of La Fontaine, combining a visit afterwards in fancy dress or a candlelit evening visit …..No less than 2,000 candles!. I suggest also to visit the castles of the Loire Valley, and to stay at Le Domaine des Hautes Loire, a beautifully restored mansion set in a private parc.

Hotel Profile: InterContinental Paris Le Grand