Women on Top of Pershing Hall
Last night I was a Woman on Top.
My initials are carved into the medallions atop the doors: A-L. But the A.L. at Pershing Hall is reminiscent of when the building was once the headquarters for the American Legion, certainly not placed there in my honor!
Not long after Pershing Hall opened in September of 2001, Forbes.com claimed it was already the “hottest scene in town.” The designer hotel is a creation of Andrée Putnam, famous as designer of boutique hotels, a tall thin elegant woman who I have seen grace the stage often at the annual event, “Paris — La Capitale de la Création.” It was named after General John Pershing, the leader of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. A New York Times obituary marking his July 15, 1948 death remarked, “The high esteem and affection in which he was held by veterans was shown by the American Legion in Paris naming its headquarters and clubhouse Pershing Hall. To the general, Paris was the ‘heart of France,’ and he had hailed its liberation in August, 1944, as ‘a great step forward along the road to Berlin.'”
The building wasn’t always overrun by Americans. Located on rue Pierre Charron between the Champs-Elysées and Avenue George V, it was built in 1882 for the Count of Paris, referred to by French Orléanist monarchists as “Louis-Philippe II.” (“Count of Paris” [Comte de Paris] was a title for the local magnate of the district around Paris in Carolingian times.) The restoration of the hotel took three years and cost upwards of $10 million. It shows. It’s a stunning blend of old and new, history and future, all in arm’s reach of what the French will tell you is the most beautiful avenue in the world — the Champs-Elysées. Its slogan: “Here, a place where the city comes to you.”
The hotel has 26 rooms and suites, all air-conditioned, equipped to the max with two-line telephones, Internet and WiFi connection, Bang and Olufsen flat screen TVs, CD/DVD players, complimentary champagne mini-bar, bathrobes, hairdryer and mosaic tiled en suite bathrooms. The restaurant, “Pershing,” is overseen by Erwan Louaisil, an understudy of Alain Ducasse, Marco Pierre White and Daniel Boulud, all master chefs. I was told it had the best cheeseburger in Paris! With a price tag of 19 euros, it’s the least expensive main course on the chic and pricey menu, but I couldn’t resist taking a taste test. Tough to say — but it certainly fares well against Joe Allen’s, Paris’ American restaurant institution with a history here of more than 30 years.
Tuesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., Pershing Hall puts Women on Top. Dedicated to women, but open to men, it takes on a slightly different atmosphere. A live DJ sets the scene with “womensoul” musical selections. Last night, tables were totally occupied, set against a 35-meter vertical garden backdrop in a courtyard whose roof opens and closes at the management’s discretion. Till 8 p.m. during “Happy Hours,” women can partake of two drinks for the price of their first one and a special fixed price menu is offered for 39 euros. A fortune-teller is on hand to answer questions, little gifts from Lyhan Spa Beauté (34/36 rue Montorgueil, 1st) are distributed and if you complete a little questionnaire, they will help you find the man of your dreams they call your “Men on Top.”
Whomever is on top, I doubt it matters. Either way, Pershing Hall is on top of it all.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]
P.S. Bring your French friends to practice speaking English while you practice your French at Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group! Open all through the month of May (in spite of the holiday weekends) and all throughout the Summer. Visit http://www.parlerparlor.com for more information.
P.P.S. A special get well message goes to Parler Parlor co-coordinator, Marie-Elisabeth Crochard, who broke an ankle and is hospitalized this week for a speedy recovery.