Right Bank, Left Bank. Two different worlds. Hotel Le Parc, Hotel
Claude Bernard. Two different hotels.
We stayed in both worlds and in both hotels during our trip to
Paris. No comparison, no regrets.
Hotel Le Parc near Place Victor Hugo on the Right Bank is the
former site of Alain Ducasse's Michelin three-star restaurant and
40,000-bottle wine cellar (now located at Paris' Plaza Athenee) and
within striking distance of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel
My husband and I arrived on foot, pulling our carry-ons from the
Victor Hugo Metro stop two blocks away.
If the doorman was surprised, he masked it well.
The 116-room hotel includes 25 junior and duplex suites. Le
Parc's main building and five connected town houses, built for the
Paris elite in the early 1900s, encircle a courtyard with gardens
and a cafe.
Our room faced the street, but thick-paned French doors that
opened onto a small balcony muted traffic noise.
Although Le Parc is a very French hotel (now part of the Sofitel
Demeure line), the decor is distinctively English. British
decorator Nina Campbell took great liberties with chintz and
plaids, bows and swags.
Her mark is everywhere, from the ground-floor library to the
intimate bar, elegant restaurant, meetings rooms, fitness center
and canopied four-poster beds in guest rooms. Le Parc exudes the
feel of an English manor house.
Personalized service is Le Parc's trademark, said Dominick
Adrian, director general.
"Guests return to us because of services rendered by our
employees," he said.
Sofitel, the upscale brand of Accor, added the eight Demeure
hotels in Europe to its network of 145 hotels in 48 countries
earlier this year.
Agents book the bulk of the commissionable U.S. business that
accounts for 35% of all guests.
The U.K and the rest of Europe make up the balance, according to
Adrian. "We have returning guests who stay four to six nights."
Adrian believes in the personal way of doing business.
"This hotel must be very present in the North American market. I
meet with U.S. agents and I do sales calls. This is a small quality
property in a city that has many quality properties," he said.
That claim translates to in-room amenities such as the Bang
& Olufsen radio, cable television, CD player, Villeroy &
Boch china and Mumm champagne in the minibar.
Several of the duplex suites have sleeping lofts overlooking
high-ceilinged living rooms with views of the Eiffel Tower.
Our large superior category room had a separate seating area
with a desk, data ports and wing chairs. The marble bathroom had a
Had Le Parc not been in Paris, we might have nested there
indefinitely, but the city beckoned.
Four days later, we wheeled our carry-ons across the Seine River
to the Latin Quarter.
The Claude Bernard was on Rue des Ecoles, a busy main street
that came alive each 5 a.m. We came alive at that hour, too. Our
fourth-floor room faced the street, whose noises were our wake-up
However, we had requested a room with a balcony and a view, and
we got both. Although the balcony was narrow, we could stand on it
to savor the scenes and skyline.
The hotel opened in 1935 with 35 rooms. General manager Paul
Benichou, whose family bought the property in 1998, began
renovating it to enlarge room size and install air
Of the present 15 rooms, 10 are double and five can accommodate
up to four guests.
Our room had not yet been enlarged. It was small -- in fact,
about the size of my work cubicle -- but we grew fond of it and the
This winter, a lobby bar and a computer room will be added.
Marble floors, a new elevator and key cards follow.
A new breakfast room was added last spring.
"More than 75% of our guests are from the U.S.," Benichou
The Web site, at hotelclaudebernard.com, opened in 1997 and
accounts for 35% of bookings, with a small portion from agents.
Benichou wants more.
"U.S. travel agents do not know about us, but I want to change
that," he said.
Commission is 10% in high season and 15% during the winter.
Packages and agent discounts are available.