Opened in 1910 on the initiative of the Advisory board of the department store “Le Bon Marché” for their important clients, the Lutetia hotel is significant in the history of Paris for being a transition from the Art Nouveau of the day to the then emerging style of Art Deco. The Hotel is located at 45 Boulevard Raspail, in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of the 6th arrondissement of Paris, one of the best-known hotels in the history of Paris on the Left Bank. The architects at the time, commissioned sculptor Léon Binet and later, Paul Belmondo (father of actor, Jean-Paul Belmondo) to decorate the hotel’s facade in the ‘Art Nouveau’ style comprising branch-like depictions with imposing floral details intermingling with grape vines and grape clusters.
The Lutetia quickly became a place where the anonymous could be found alongside the famous, where art, philosophy, science and politics were continually created, discreetly and without ostentation. A place of intellect; a place of experiment, gifted for creating and developing ideas. Shortly after the Lutetia opened, its early success was interrupted by the First World War and later again in June 1940, when the French government evacuated the occupied city. The hotel itself (like other Palace Hotels in Paris) was requisitioned during the Second World War by the occupation forces and used to house, feed, and entertain the troops and officers. In 1944, the Lutetia resumed its intended role and at the orders of General de Gaulle, the hotel became a crucial centre for displaced people and families seeking to be reunited with their loved ones. The hotel welcomed up to 2,000 arrivals each day.
Renowned in the history of Paris, The Left Bank nurtures bold advances in literature, painting, sculpture and dance, and all of them found a home at the Lutetia. During the 30’s, some of them, quite literally. Andre Gide lived at the Lutetia, which became the centre of his influential salon. James Joyce continued the writing of his monumental "Ulysses" at the hotel, while another guest, Ernest Hemingway, helped him edit his masterpiece. Samuel Beckett, André Malraux, and Saint-Exupéry were just few of the luminaries drawn to the vibrant atmosphere of the place. Where writers lead, publishers soon follow, and the Lutetia became the headquarters of literary Paris. This was just as true for the other arts. Picasso and Matisse took up residence, Josephine Baker was a regular, and the Lutetia became the creative crossroads of the city.
All that Jazz
During the 50’s, in a city - and a hotel - celebrating its freedom, the soundtrack that opens the era is jazz. The Lutetia is once more the venue for artistic collaboration. From touring American stars to French innovators like Serge Gainsbourg. Eddy Mitchell immortalizes his friend in the classic "Au Bar du Lutetia". Also raising a glass in that famous bar, are the hotel's new owners at the time, the Taittinger family. Like the famed champagne that bears their name, the Lutetia is now a favourite of a new generation of business, government and cultural leaders. François Mitterrand is a frequent visitor, as is Albert Cohen, living at the Lutetia while writing his masterpiece “Belle du Seigneur”.
As one of the finest hotel’s in the history of Paris, classic and contemporary lives side by side and the latest stars to adopt the Lutetia find inspiration in the hotel's storied past. This is the key to fashion icon Sonia Rykiel's redesign in the '80s. Starting with her own shop in the hotel, she goes on to reclaim the Lutetia's art deco heritage in the rooms, brasserie and Michelin-starred restaurant. Not to be outdone, guests from sculptor Hiquily to filmmaker David Lynch design their own suites. The largest of these is, not surprisingly, by Arman, celebrated creator of monumental sculptures. It becomes his pied-a-terre for two months of each year, when he comes to Paris to oversee his foundry.