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Visiting France

Landmark Paris hotel closes for three-year renovation

media The hotel Lutetia, à Paris Flickr/Steve Cadman

Paris's landmark art déco hotel, Le Lutetia, closed on Monday for renovations that will take three years and cost nearly 100 million euros. German intelligence made the hotel its headquarters during the Nazi occupation and General Charles De Gaulle, James Joyce and Pablo Picasso have been among its guests.

The Lutetia, which adopted the Roman name for what is now Paris, was built in 1910 and its art déco façade is a historical monument.

In the heart of the chic Saint-Germain-des Près district, has attracted the rich and famous, including not only De Gaulle, who spent his wedding night there, but also Joyce, Picasso and French authors André Gide and Antoine Saint-Exupéry.

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But rooms there cost 171-338 euros a night, compared to the more than 1,000 euros that clients of the rivals the Shangri-La and the Mandarain Oriental pay.

So Israeli real estate group Alrov, which bought the Lutetia in 2010, decided to give the place a make-over, supervised by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, that will include installing a swimming pool as well as new furniture and bedding and redecorating the restaurant.

Representatives of the 211 employees, who staged demonstrations in defence of their jobs, have reached an agreement that will see most keep their contracts and return to work in 2017, although some will be made redundant and others take early retirement.

The hotel has put 100 works of art and 8,000 bottles of wine from its cellar up for auction.

Several other smart Paris hotels, notably the Crillon, the Ritz and the Plaza Athénée, have had major facelifts recently to attract the well-heeled clients who continue to flowk to Paris.

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