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History Of A Grand Hotel

June 03, 2014
Since its earliest days, 19 Avenue Kleber has always been a landmark Parisian address.
Its history starts back in 1864 when Russian oligarch Count Basilewsky, in love with the Château de Versailles, fulfilled his wish to build a castle of his own in Paris. After him, the deposed former Queen of Spain, Isabella II, lived an eventful life full of conspiracies and rumours in the Palais, until 1904.

An even greater building and one of Paris most luxurious “grands hotels” was built on the site and opened in 1908 by entrepreneur Leonard Tauber.  Innovative from the outset and impressive with its signature voluminous public spaces, the hotel quickly became celebrated in Paris and overseas for its beauty, glamour and the spectacular events held there. 


After World War I peace was declared, the hotel re-opened for business, enhancing its reputation for style and glamour, including “the greatest dinner party of all time” in 1922 hosted by Sydney and Violet Schiff with a guest list comprising Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Diaghilev, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Proust and James Joyce. George Gershwin composed his oeuvre “An American In Paris” while staying in 1928. The palace was also one of the most sumptuous places in town, where socialites enjoyed being seen, and watch planes fly while enjoying the exclusive atmosphere of the rooftop of the building.
The property was sold to the French government in 1936 to successively house the UNESCO Head Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, serving mainly as their International Conference Centre.
During this latter period, the Paris Peace Accords negotiated by Henry Kissinger and which brought an end to the Vietnam War, were signed in 1973 in the area which today is the Bar Kléber.