When Francois Truffaut wrote and directed the movie Jules et Jim in the early 1960s, he was part of ‘la nouvelle vague’, the ‘new wave’ of French cinema. A genre that has become iconic over the years. So fashionable, trendy and chic that everyone wanted to be part of it. Then just a few years ago the Jules et Jim Hotel opened in Paris. A stylish and brilliantly located boutique hotel. So now guests at the hotel can be part of this wonderful, effortlessly trendy, youthful experience. I loved it, every minute of it!
The narrow street that leads to the Hotel Jules et Jim is lined with leather goods shops, selling hand bags, wallets, purses and luggage in every conceivable size, shape and colour. You can buy wholesale too in this traditional neighbourhood, which was once the heart of the leather makers or ‘mariquinier’ district of Paris. Half way down the street on the south side is a discreet entrance painted in a matt grey colour. There are automatic doors and a small sign indicating that this is the Jules et Jim Hotel. The utilitarian lobby leads me to a stylish desk. It is the reception desk, where smart young members of staff welcome guests enthusiastically. The staff wear white polo shirts and grey chinos. Lighting is muted and peaceful. Beyond there is a courtyard, still paved from the days when this was a delivery yard for the warehouse behind. Black and white stills from Francois Truffaut’s movie are displayed on the walls. I’m reminded that this is the Jules et Jim Hotel, I half expect Jeanne Moreau, the actress who plays Catherine to walk around the corner!
The bar and sitting room are beautifully furnished in neutral shades. It feels so welcoming and so elegant and yet at the same time it is so under-stated. As a Brit I just love it. There are comfortable 1960s sofas, cute chairs and kidney shaped coffee tables. Book shelves line several walls, where a carefully thought-out selection of books, artistic monographs and even TinTin books are available for guests to enjoy. They have an art collection that is changed regularly. At the moment it is the photographic work of Francesca Piqueras. Bold and powerful photographs of beached ships rusting under the sun, disused military installations, bleak and compelling photographs of oil rigs. Her images are bewitching.
The eclectic mix of art and ornaments intrigues me. Behind the bar there is a model of the Titanic, with its four funnels. There’s also an unusual cardboard building, cut away so that the viewer can see the different rooms and floors in a house and the occupants within. It reminds me of a Wes Anderson movie. On closer inspection each floor shows a bedroom and the occupant(s) of that room, asleep, meditating, practising yoga or enjoying other simple delights. In the evening the bar serves delicious cocktails. There’s an extensive wine cellar too, which I glimpse through a glass panel in the floor. In the morning the bar serves as the breakfast counter. In the afternoon you can have tea!
The staff are great, service is friendly, professional, unobtrusive. They even know your name – which makes me feel both welcome and at home. There’s a ‘can do’ attitude which is so endearing. My friend Kelley wants a lily to complete her outfit, one evening, the guys get hold of one for her and its heavenly scent is filling the room when she arrives. Now that is service!
My room is a duplex. A small double bedroom upstairs with a bathroom adjoining, there is a large bath tub and separate shower. Downstairs there is a tiny living room, the French would call it ‘mignon’ or ‘chouette’ with a sofa bed, TV and a small desk. I love it, there is everything I need here. Even my husband who just arrived on the Eurostar from London. This real is the perfect base in Paris. Comfortable, discreet, welcoming. What more could I want? The Pompidou Centre is just a ten minute walk, there’s an incredible Magritte exhibition on right now. In the opposite direction is Place des Vosges, probably the finest 17th century square in Paris, lined with cafes and art galleries. At the weekend the central garden is filled with smart Parisian families, exercising their children and their dogs! Not too far away there is the Club Raye, a fabulous cocktail bar run by my friend Kein Cross. The bar is an American style piano bar, with music, friendly service and english-speaking staff. For me Club Raye is a destination in its own right. Kein is a New Yorker, he is a dedicated owner-operator, I like to think this bar is my ‘Casablanca’ bar, Kein is my Rick!
If you can take yet another step towards super trendy there’s a restaurant called Derriere, not too far away. It’s an old house, set back from the road, through a courtyard, there’s a table tennis table in the main dining area, slap bang in the middle. On balmy summer evenings you can eat in the courtyard. This is the home of the beautiful people. The food is pretty good too.
Meanwhile back at the Jules et Jim the bar closes at 11.00 pm each evening, to ensure that hotel residents are not disturbed late into the night. So it is tempting to get back early enough to have a night cap or a cup of tea before bed. After all it’s always nice to be somewhere where ‘everyone knows your name…………’
Congratulations to the two Matthieus, the team at Jules et Jim and the fabulous Kelley Black for introducing me to such a great hotel. I cannot wait to come back!
- The film Jules et Jim, by Francois Truffaut, is a love story featuring Jules and Jim, two friends and the beautiful young woman who captivates them both – Catherine.
- A Clip from the film ‘Jules et Jim’ (1962)
- The Hotel Jules et Jim, Paris – web site Hotel Jules et Jim
When you are in Paris don’t miss Club Raye – it’s the best for drinks, live music and a warm welcome. For a great bar – look no further: Club Raye is a fabulous bar