The new Peninsula Paris hotel is located in a stunning Haussmannian building near the Arc de Triomphe with a very storied history. It opened as the Hotel Majestic in 1908, became a hospital during WWI, and hosted lavish parties attended by the likes of Pablo Picasso during the 1920’s. George Gershwin even composed an American in Paris there in 1928. The German Military High Command took it over during WWII (a Hitler assassination attempt was reportedly planned at The Majestic by an officer who disagreed with some of his policies) and after the war it became the headquarters of UNESCO. The hotel has been meticulously restored by hundreds of the best French artisans and staying there will cost you a pretty penny. Luckily, there is a bar.
I stopped by Le Bar Kléber on one of those wonderful early fall days when it is still warm and, even though I was by myself, I was seated at a table with a beautiful leather banquette near the open double height doorway. I enjoyed a glass of rosé for just seven euros with an assortment of little bar snacks and soaked in the sumptuous atmosphere.
The long narrow room is paneled in oak with intricate gilded molding. The wood work was done by Atelier Fancelli a family owned company who has been carrying out wood restoration for three generations and the gold leafing by Ateliers Gohard, another family owned company who previously handled repairs to the domes of Les Invalides and the Palace of Versailles.
The bar, like the hotel, has intriguing history. The Paris Peace Accords, bringing the Vietnam War to an end, were signed here in 1973. Cocktails are expensive, around 20 euros a piece, but I think getting swept back to the glamorous Belle Epoque for an hour or two may just make it worthwhile.
19 Ave. Kléber
Paris, France 75116
+331 58 12 67 78