Feb 11, 2012

Retro: The Claridge, Paris France 1976

The Claridge
Paris France

I had the privilege of meeting this very nice door man. When I stayed in this wonderful
one of a kind hotel

Hit the photo for story and photos of my stay in Paris

PARIS (AP)—Doorkeeper Victor Mary, who has shaken the hands of princes, maharajas and movie queens in his 39 years at the entrance to the Claridge Hotel, will escort his last guest into a taxi on the Champs Elysees on New Year’s Eve.
     The Claridge, one of the French capital’s few remaining old-time luxury hotels, is closing its doors to make room for a shopping center.
     The disappearance of the prestigious 215 room Claridge will leave the Champs Elysees without a single hotel, but with at least eight shopping centers, specializing in expensive ready to wear clothing, gadgets and souvenirs.
     “The Champs Elysees is not what it used to be,” sighed Victor, 66, as workmen carried the hotel’s rented television sets out into a van “It’s become vulgar.  There is no elegance left. It’s no longer the right street for a hotel like this.  Just look around at what they are selling in the shops, No quality.”
     The old fashioned elegance of the Claridge and a few remaining hotels like it has been overtaken by events.  Big hotels with up to 1,000 rooms have sprung up on the fringes of the city since World War II.  They belong to airlines and conglomerate corporations and make ends meet by catering to large groups and treating their clients like items of merchandise, Victor said.  “The human touch has gone.”
     The Claridge—not linked with the equally elegant Claridge’s in London—was built at the beginning of the century and became a focal point of the city’s social life in the gay ‘20’s.
     It was one of the world’s first hotels to feature an indoor swimming pool, and one of the first in Europe to offer an American invention known as the cocktail.
     Victor Mary started as a bellboy nearly half a century ago and has never worked anywhere else.
     “The ‘20s, that was the really great time, “ He recalled.  “We were filled with the famous and the wealthy all the year round.  The afternoon tea dance was where everyone who was anyone in Paris wanted to be seen.  And at night we had dancing and gaiety until the small hours with everyone dressed in elegant evening clothes.  Those were the days.”
     In the depression years of the 1930’s the Claridge came on hard times, largely because the company operating the hotel did not own the building.  The old monumental entrance was converted to shops and restaurants, and guests entered the hotel through what used to be the servants entrance next door.

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