The brasserie Le Fouquet's is one of the landmarks of the Champs-Elysees, but visitors to Paris may not know there's a luxury hotel above, with a discrete entrance on the Avenue George V. It's the last such hotel in Paris to still belong to a French family, which owns a chain of hotels and casinos in France, including the celebrated Le Majestic in Cannes. The brasserie was expanded to include the hotel in 2006, after five adjacent buildings were bought and integrated.
Paris's 8th arrondissement is called "The Golden Triangle" for its upper-crust residents, pricey fashion boutiques, luxury hotels and key monuments such as Le Grand Palais and the Arc de Triomphe. The corner of the Champs-Elysees where Fouquet's sits is tourist central, with slow-moving gawkers wandering down the Avenue at key times, but the hotel exists above the fray and the Avenue George V which it faces is considerably quieter. At Christmas, the area is a sparkling wonderland of lights.
There's a lot of design going on in this hotel. It received a lavish upgrade in 2019, just before the pandemic, by interior designer Jacques Garcia, who is known for his opulent, theatrical style. The design sometimes careens towards the blingy, as in the lobby with its gold flocked walls and reception desk adorned with heavy crystal drops. Follow a staircase lined with red velvet theatre curtains to the upstairs bar and restaurant, Le Joy, which feels like a clubby library and opens onto a hidden rooftop garden. The hotel's different buildings are arranged around an internal courtyard, the sky reflected in a giant curved mirror suspended above the roof. The Shiseido Spa has a sexy subterranean pool and whirlpool and eight treatment rooms for massages and facials.
Room 520, Deluxe Junior Suite. The hotel features 101 Rooms; 30 per cent are suites. The hotel offers personal butler service in every room category. The entry level rooms are quite large for Paris, at 35 square metres, and the suites are truly spectacular, especially the glamorous Harcourt Suite, themed around the film industry, which has its own photographic studio. My suite is the only room in the hotel with an Eiffel Tower view and I have a wrap-around step-on balcony. Unlike the jazzier public spaces of the hotel, this room is calm and elegant, with high ceilings, a cream and gold colour palette and soft touches such as a quilted headboard and warmly glowing lamps. The black marble bathroom is spacious, and there's a walk-in wardrobe, a sitting area, desk and a large mini-bar cabinet stocked with complimentary soft drinks and snacks.
Fouquet's brasserie with its red awnings and terrace directly on the Champs-Elysees opened in 1899. Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire now runs the kitchen and there's a two-course lunch menu for €35 and three courses at dinner for €86. The restaurant within the hotel, Le Joy, is the only restaurant in Paris with a menu entirely consisting of dishes made exclusively with ingredients grown in France and French territories like Reunion and Tahiti and a cocktail menu with herbs grown exclusively within four kilometres of the Champs-Elysees. The breakfast buffet is fairly modest (charcuterie, cheese and avocado toast) but sitting in the library of Le Joy looking out over the little garden is a pleasant way to start the day.
There is so much on the doorstep here, although the Champs-Elysees is not that interesting for shopping and possibly best avoided at most times. Head down the hill to the Avenue Montaigne instead. The nearby George V Metro stop is one of the city's most convenient, directly taking you to the Louvre and Tuileries Gardens as well as the Marais and further afield in no time.
Theatrical and swank with a rich showbusiness lineage, this lavishly revamped hotel has comfortable, quiet, well-sized rooms but its touristy location and razzle dazzle might not appeal to everyone.
46 Avenue George V, 75008 Paris. Tel +33 1 40 69 60 00. Rooms from €830 (convert) a night; lhw.com/hotel/hotel-barriere-fouquets-paris-france
Fouquets has had a long association with the French film industry and every year since 1976 has hosted the Gala dinner after the Cesar Awards. It was a beloved haunt of celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf and is filled with historical artefacts and winks to its celebrated history.
I can tell from the whispers between receptionists they have no record of my reservation. But the charming young desk clerk hardly misses a beat and escorts me to the the bar for a complimentary cocktail or two, where I wait quite a long while for a room.
Lee Tulloch was a guest of Fouquet's.