Aristide meets Virgil at Lutetia

Publication le 7 avril 2018 sur Les Echos Le Cercle


How long has it been since you last returned to Lutétia in Paris?

Animated by a friendly curiosity, we were a few Centurions of American Express invited to discover the future configuration of the Lutetia by its general manager, Jean Luc Cousty. He closed the hotel four years ago, he’ll reopen it this spring.

The Parisian icon of boulevard Raspail, was born in prosperity in 1910. It became a place of celebration in the Roaring Twenties before suffering the tragedy and then resilience in the middle of the 20th century; since the 1950s it has resolutely transformed into “The Left Bank”. From now on, discovering the new Lutétia will mean going through an architectural performance that enshrines an Art Nouveau – Art Deco link found in the mirrors of the 21st century.

What did we find out during this visit?

The unique and recognizable facade, made of Paris stones at the top and Burgundy stones at the bottom, has been rejuvenated by the craftsman Villemain; overlooking 43 Boulevard Raspail, a marquee, reproduced in the same way as its predecessor of 1910 by the craftsman Betemps, adorns the hotel entrance. Beyond that, inside, the large gallery has found its source of bas-reliefs identical to the originals. All in vines, vines and bunches, they are an allegory to the residents before the breakthrough of the Boulevard in 1907: the gardens of the convents of the Daughters of Saint Thomas, the Abbey in the Woods and the hospital of the Petites Maisons.

Then on your left opens a huge space, the former Borghese lounge, now the Aristide Bar (Boucicaut). Originally, the provincial travellers were recharged with their own excitement at Le Bon Marché. From now on, this opening dominating the boulevard will be both a lounge-bar for the common people, a refuge for others and, for some elite exiles, an asylum against the existence of the world or even a suspension of the rhythm of time that shapes us. It is impossible to understand so many atmospheres at once without looking up and letting the movement of the dream take shape in Adrien Karbowsky’s admirable and majestic fresco.

In the sky of the living room, the student of Puvis de Chavanne drew a romantic work inherited from the gardens, orchards and vegetable gardens of the religious houses of the past. She inspires the dream of a peaceful, serene and generous nature around two deities: Pomona, nymph of orchards and fruits, and her companion Ceres, goddess of agriculture and fertility. Accompanied by fishing, harvesting, harvesting and hunting, they will remind you of your countryside, the nostalgia of an ancient rural life, or, if the soul’s imagination no longer hurts itself at the limits of the spirit, the son of Pollion of the Bucolics of Virgil reciting a few verses from the Georgians:

“Hic segetes, illic ueniunt felicius uuae,

arborei fetus alibi atque iniussa uirescunt


Here it is the wheat that comes in abundance, there it is the vine

Elsewhere it is fruit trees and green natural meadows”

Everyone understands that the Art Nouveau-Art Deco-Modernity alliance is timeless.

Hidden under paintings, this fresco was hidden from view and rediscovered by craftsmen Stéphanie and Cyril de Ricou. A modern-day archaeological invention, performance is to be commended. The host’s audacity will be to leave the polychromy intact. It will not be renovated, the colours will not be destroyed by a giant enhancement, they will remain built by time become pastel painter.

Further on, the reception will also be dominated by a smaller fresco, which will also be given back to the viewers. In a delicate movement of a pergola of crocus and roses, it will transform impatient arrival travellers into lovers of the late departure

On the other side of the gallery, the restaurant Saint Germain is decorated with a luminous invention. The roof has disappeared and the space is under the light of a centuries-old glass roof decorated with surprises. A shock! The whole opens onto the lateral light of the new interior patio. Further on, the Akasha Spa will also be a place of intensive inaction.

The number of rooms will be reduced from 184 to 230. Exclusive suites at the summit offer views over all of Paris. It is forbidden to describe them to you, however, we have promised secrecy. Let’s just say that the eucalyptus, the color of Paris, the engravings in the Carrara statuzo altissimo, the heraldry of minibars are pleasant winks.

Also prohibited is any information about the second bar and its two smoking rooms. As for the famous Brasserie, it will be back in the fall with the hotel’s second patio accessible from its mezzanine.

This transfiguration of Lutetia resurrects the works of art of the last century and liberates the creators of our time. The romantic vibration that escapes is animated by symbols that merge into a community of traveling dreams. It is up to you, faithful “Lutetians”, to bring a new life to it.


Linkedin: Didier Julienne

Twitter:  @didierjulienne