The Victoria Palace Hotel is just off the Boulevard Montparnasse, behind the FNAC in the Rue Blaise-Desgoffe. It is an ideal location and laid back pied a terre close to the Jardins de Luxembourg, the Cartier Modern Art Museum and Odeon with all its fabulous restaurants and bars. It has a terrific parking space, which is a huge plus when you arrive in a Ferrari 488 Spider. The parking is at ground level next to the hotel and there is plenty of room. In fact when we arrived it was empty, but when we left there was a VW Golf Karmann MK1 in silver on one side and a blue Ford Mustang on the other, two of my favourite cars framing the 488.
The hotel has an impressive entrance with yellow awnings just before the curve in the road opposite a typical French bar/cafe. As you enter the lobby, the small reception is straight ahead with a waiting room to the left and the Green Lounge with bar to the right. The decor is Neoclassicist with trompe l’oeil ceilings depicting blue skies and fluffy clouds, framed with gold architraves. Red, brown and ochre marble pillars bookend the rooms over white marble floors. Plush red and striped sofas contribute to the ornate, luxurious and comfortable surroundings and the walls are adorned with Empire style paintings of lady aristocrats and generals in Egypt.
Registration is quick and easy and we were shown to our very lovely room on the second floor via the usual minuscule Parisian lift, think of an old telephone box decorated like a boudoir with a mirror on the ceiling. Parisian lifts are an art unto themselves, you could dedicate a book or museum to the ornate decoration lavished on these bijou spaces.
The room continued the French Empire theme with a light modern twist, with a large double bed and a good sized bathroom. The bedchamber is as ornate as the rest of the hotel with oak furniture, flowery patterned textile covered walls, sketched portraits and colonial lamps. The bathroom was bright making good use of contrasting white and black granite marble, with a good sized bath, basin and effective shower.
We freshened up and went down to the Kit and Jim bar, which is a delight, nestled behind oriental silk drapes, an immaculate and intimate setting, ideal for an aperitif while listening to the dulcet tones of Edith Piaf. The marble lobby with trompe l’ceil mural framed by red and gold columns, an atrium akin to a classical greek temple. A lovely cosy place to plan your wild lust tour of the 6th. We sat in the Green Lounge with its vibrant oil paintings and greek landscapes, where the barman discreetly waits till you are ready to order, impeccable French manners and service.
The Victoria Palace was built as a hotel in 1913 by architect Ernest Gaston and has been frequented by many interesting characters throughout its history. James Joyce used to take tea there with friends, as well as H. M. Marie-Josée of Belgium, the last queen of Italy, Neil Armstrong and also by Pelé otherwise known as “The Hand Of God.”
After a glass of champagne we left the hotel and wandered down to Odeon where we soon found one of our favourite little restaurants run by a French family from Alsace, a region famed for its family tavernas. We managed to grab a table outside where we could watch Parisians saunter by, with their little dogs trailing behind, waving cigarettes around as they talked earnestly with companions. The meal was wonderful, with typical French service, that always starts out so aloof, but warms up as they judge you easy to deal with and happy to keep drinking champagne with the odd whisky.
After a lovely breakfast the next day of patisseries and fruit salad we wandered visited various wonderful places that the Victoria Palace Hotel had been kind enough to recommend. Master-chocolatiers and sweet-shops located in the neighbourhood known for their craftsmanship, their sense of tradition or just for sheer, gluttonous delight.
Old-Fashioned Sweet Shops:
1 À La Mère De Famille : 39 rue du Cherche-Midi
2 Gourmandises De Nathalie : 67 boul. des Invalides
Chocolates for the Connoisseur:
3 Jean-Charles Rochoux : 16 rue d’Assas
4 Hubert Masse / Le Cacaotier : 52 rue Saint-Placide
5 Patrick Roger : 91 rue de Rennes
6 Jean-Paul Hévin : 3 rue Vavin
7 Chocolats Foucher : 134 rue du Bac
8 Jacques Genin : 89 rue du Bac
9 Chapon Chocolatier : 69 rue du Bac
10 Debauve Et Gallais : 30 rue des Saints-Pères
11 Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse : 26 rue Saint-Benoît
12 Richart Design Et Chocolat : 27 rue Bonaparte
13 Henri Le Roux : 1 rue Bourbon-le-Château
14 Arnaud Larher : 93 rue de Seine
15 Un Dimanche À Paris : 4-8 cr du Commerce St André
The Victoria Palace Hotel is superbly located between Montparnasse and St Germain, with exquisite fin de siècle decoration, good service and a lovely bar ideal for a quick snifter before venturing out to explore the finest shops in Paris. You are a stone’s throw from the Jardin du Luxembourg and the most welcoming restaurants that France has to offer. Plus the car park is a major convenience if you are driving a supercar with low clearance as it’s so easy to get in and out of. The hotel delivers traditional luxury Parisian decor and chic and makes the perfect retreat from which to discover Paris and all its glories.