Old school chic at Paris' Relais Plaza
It’s impossible not to feel a little like Carrie from Sex and the City when sweeping through the Plaza Athenee’s revolving doors. I’m at the legendary Parisian ‘palace’ to venture inside the inner sanctum on the very swanky Avenue Montaigne. This is a parallel universe where the wealthy and well-dressed roam.
On a scouting trip the night before I’d investigated the famous Relais Plaza, the hotel’s restaurant. In a world where hotels and restaurants are constantly trying to be the next big thing - innovating and trying to remain on the cutting edge of things - it was a real breath of fresh air to find oneself transported back in time in a place where nothing has changed.
Old world, old school chic oozes from the art deco restaurant. Although the carpets might have been updated, the décor is listed and you’ll find the same smoked glass mirrors, art deco statues and glitzy chandeliers as Yves St Laurent did when he lunched here every day in the 1980s. I suspect the utterly charming staff have been here as long, considering their impeccable manner and the way they greet most diners by name.
With its delicious traditional cuisine, old-fashioned manners and cool sophistication, the Relais caters to a different world, one where one needn’t look at the price tags. I only catch a glimpse of this world, but have to admit it does look rather lovely.
The rest of the Plaza follows suit. Gloriously plush rooms with elegant furnishings, beautiful period details perfectly preserved and Parisian views are plentiful. The top-floor Suite Eiffel Terrasse with its own roof terrace is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Even Carrie’s room pales in comparison to this pristine art deco apartment complete with Eiffel tower bathtub view.
Sex and the City was a huge shoot for us. They monopolised the lobby (which incidentally is really quite a lot smaller than it appears on film) for hours! But it was very impactful for us.
“Everything can be done here, as long as it’s at night. After midnight we can close the restaurant and shoot in there - like we did for a recent Vincent Lindon and Cecile de France movie - but obviously during opening hours it’s too disruptive to our guests.”
The Plaza has a dedicated team on hand to deal with press junkets, visiting VIPs and filming requests so they have a well-oiled mechanism to deal with demand. Isabelle confides they keep a tight leash on the content of what’s being shot on their turf:
“We always read the scripts and scenarios before signing any contracts. Our brand image is extremely important and we have to protect it so we have to be careful not to degrade it with any controversial scenes of sexual nature or violence.
“Sex and the City was a huge shoot for us. They monopolised the lobby (which incidentally is really quite a lot smaller than it appears on film) for hours! But it was very impactful for us.”
Other big films shooting at the Plaza have included Jack Nicholson’s Something’s Gotta Give and The Devil Wears Prada, which features a very short scene with Meryl Streep stepping out in front of the famous façade with its signature red awnings.
“There have also been a few French flops which we won’t mention! And we recently had Emannuelle Seigner in a closed room shoot. No one knew it was going on. That we can do very easily as suites can just be closed off. We also had Patrick Bruel and Alice Taglioni kissing in the bar the other day!”
The bar is one of Paris’ hippest nightspots where a young crowd of beautiful people congregate at night. That’s after a continuous stream of businessmen and power brokers, ladies who lunch and chic families appearing throughout the day at the adjacent Galerie des Gobelins attracted by the breakfast, the champagne hour or the tantalising sweet trolley.
We’re very flexible. It all depends on time of day, time of year. We go for quality rather than quantity.
Fashion photo shoots and ad campaigns also come here regularly. Again, the hotel gets involved in the content making sure the model poses aren’t too outrageous and the hotel’s image is protected.
Isabelle recalls: “Dior shot the Jude Law advert in one of our suites. One thing to know though is that we tend to limit the crew in there to ten or 12 at most. Also we have strict rules about eating in the suites so we give all crew members the use of the staff canteen downstairs, which is very good.”
To sum up, she says: “To be honest, we’re very flexible. It all depends on time of day, time of year. We go for quality rather than quantity."
Anything else we should know? “The Plaza always has a contract with production teams covering image, décor and food, and we ask for a dress code too. We need to keep certain standards for our clientele.”
Although I’m not quite dressed to the nines, I’m glad I wore a jacket today.
I hope I’m not letting the side down.
Global Filming Incentive - France (see more…)
Not Logged in
You must be logged in to post a comment
There are no comments