Paris is always a good idea.
The epicentre of culture, wit and grandeur, this magical city of light brims with an ever-evolving je ne sais quoi that lures in bon vivants time and time again. In the heart of this historic city, just steps away from the Louvre, sits a gilded hotel: Le Meurice, built in 1835 and coined the “original palace hotel”, has seen the likes of Queen Victoria, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Beyoncé pass through its doors. Now, nearly two centuries after it first opened, the hotel is undergoing one of its biggest renovations yet – 160 rooms and suites are being restored over several years. It’s inspired by the beauty of Versailles, the epitome of which is captured in the newly unveiled crème de la crème: the Belle Etoile penthouse suite.
“Projects like this don’t come along every day,” says Margaux Lally, one half of Lyon-based design studio Lally and Berger, which she co-founded with partner Luc Berger. The young duo worked with (and was introduced to Le Meurice’s management by) Charles Jouffre of Ateliers Jouffre to overhaul the hotel, as well as this seventh-floor suite perched in the middle of a roof garden, originally conceived as a summer restaurant.
The result is simply breathtaking. Deserving of its name – French for “beautiful star” – Belle Etoile spans an astounding 6,700sqft, complete with a 3,200sqft private terrace that has been newly transformed with the help of French landscape architect Pierre-Alexandre Risser to mirror the Tuileries Garden below. Greenery wraps the suite on all sides and is set against 360-degree panoramic vistas of Paris’s most iconic landmarks, including the Louvre, Place Vendôme, the dome of the Invalides, the Musée d’Orsay and the hourly twinkles of the Eiffel Tower at night.
“You have the impression that you’re all alone in Paris with the city at your feet, as if all its monuments were there just for you,” enthuses Luc. “Rather strangely, many of the windows were previously blocked up, notably in the bedroom.” Hence, it became the starting point of the restoration to bring the suite’s exceptional milieu into the duplex suite. Margaux and Luc replaced the single door that gave access to the terrace with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors so that every room now opens up to the outdoors. “It’s almost as if each opening is a tableau vivant of the city,” says Margaux.
The magnificent setting does more than just serve as a backdrop, however; it gave the duo the desire to create “a dialogue” with it. “The way the Parisian sky changes throughout the day and seasons inspired us for the colour palette,” says Margaux. “We opted predominantly for blue-greys and greyish greens.” Adds Luc of the beautiful botanical references weaved into the suite, envisioned as a Parisian town mansion: “The banister of the spiral staircase in the entry foyer is designed with the branch motif and the chandelier above it has glass palmettes.”
That staircase leads down into one of the suite’s four bedrooms, while past the boudoir entrance hall is another two. The master en suite, meanwhile, occupies the entire top floor. Quintessentially 18th-century splendour meets a fresh layer of modern flair that resulted in a decidedly warm, convivial and intimate environ. “Our approach was one of subtle, refined luxury,” describes Luc of the details such as marble thresholds, a chevron-patterned parquet, gilded touches, embroidery on the broadcloth curtains and reinterpreted 18th-century faux marble skirting boards, which are blended with state-of-the-art technology such as Apple TV, a Bang & Olufsen theatre system and LED lighting.
The crown jewel of the suite is a majestic marbled master bathroom that’s encircled by newly windowed walls on three sides, through which natural light streams and views unfold of Montmartre and the Sacré-Coeur. New brass and bronze details complement a decadent circular Jacuzzi, lulling you into a languid state of bliss in a private cocoon high above the city. “If we could imagine the bathroom of our dreams, I think it would be this one,” says Margaux. It’s a sentiment that can certainly be said about the equally splendid suite.
Scroll through the gallery below to see more of the Belle Etoile Suite (photography: Stephan Julliard | Tripod Agency):