Recently opened in the bohemian and romantic Left Bank area of Paris, La Belle Juliette is a story in the shape of a hotel - or, rather, a wonderful and immensely romantic French fairytale. As befits a genuine fairytale, there is not a thing missing: neither powder and champagne, nor countless sophisticated details and an incredibly lovely heroine who, with the virtuoso charm of the perfect hostess, steals the heart of everyone who ever sets foot near her. The moment you enter La Belle Juliette, it is as if you had stepped inside the home of the Beautiful Juliette. Although Juliette never actually lived in the house, she is far from a fictional character. One of the most legendary high society ladies of the18th-century Paris, she was born in Lyon, married the rich banker Jacques Récamier at the tender age of 15 and moved to Paris. For over thirty years - until her death at the age of 72 - The Beautiful Juliette (sometimes also referred to as The Divine) was the soul of her literary salon which counted Delacroix and Balzac, as well as the love of her life, the French writer, politician and diplomat, the father of French Romantic literature François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) among its regulars. She swept off their feet countless men and was an acquaintance of several royals - Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Napoleon I and Napoleon II (as a young boy).
La Belle Juliette will probably not be the right choice for those who are looking simply for a comfortable accommodation; rather than a hotel, it is so much more like a page out of an exciting book which, come to life, guides the reader through the zigzags of an adventurous storyline, sucking him into a an intellectual puzzle. Each of the floors plays out a different episode from Juliette's life. The first floor, dominated by light and romantic tones, also the most feminine one, is dedicated to Madame Récamier and Madame de Stael, two inseparable friends - charming society ladies and also confirmed feminists. The second floor is an ode to Italy, a country that was a source of inspiration and, on several occasions, a refuge to Juliette who, like many other French intellectuals, became a voluntary exile during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. The large wall-paintings conjure up road landscapes enveloped by light mist. The third floor, a tribute to François-René de Chateaubriand, was inspired by the great man's memoirs. The fourth floor - also known as Les Causeries - embodies the atmosphere of the literary salons which served as venues for magnificent balls and meeting places of intellectuals and celebrities. The first-floor Le Talma bar is dedicated to one of the most famous actors of his day, also a frequent guest at Juliette's salon and a favourite of Napoleon Bonaparte. Other communal rooms, furnished with sofas, soft lounge chairs and countless details which imitate the patina of time, also embody the atmosphere of a living salon, adding to the general feel of visiting with your friends instead of staying at a hotel. La Belle Juliette also boasts a small 'secret' courtyard garden.
The décor of the hotel was designed by Anne Gelbard, a French haute couture interior designer who has created home textile collections for Dior and Christian Lacroix. Gelbard aimed at creating a sophisticated environment (period furniture, hand-painted murals, custom-made textiles) in which classical and contemporary style, top-quality luxury materials and the latest technologies (an iMac in each room, etc.), design and comfort exist side by side. The rooms are given a personal feel and an impression of patina by countless painstakingly selected details: rare books, magazines, stamps, illustrations, photographs hunted down in antique-shops conjure up the spirit of Juliette's time.
The hotel features 34 rooms; as customary in Paris, they are comparatively small (13-35 square metres). On each floor, the most special rooms, which have been given a number ending in '9', combine the living area with a bathroom in a romantically charming way: a vintage-style bath, set in an illusion of a glass veranda, is placed opposite the bed. The tall old windows reveal a view of a quiet Parisian street.
Like the legendary Parisian literary salons, La Belle Juliette is more of a life's theatre stage for grownups - not really suited for family weekends with children. The hotel does not offer extra beds; if you are planning to stay here with your little one, you will have to book a separate room for him or her.
On the other hand, La Belle Juliette is the perfect accommodation for those who intend to combine a romantic weekend and culture tourism with shopping: Bon Marche, the greatest fashion department store in Paris, is but a few-minute walk from here.
92 Rue de Cherche-Midi
Keywords: hotel, Paris