Every district in central Paris can lay claim to a substantial amount of historical interest, but the Pigalle neighbourhood’s past is perhaps more colourful than any in the French capital. A bohemian quarter once home to Picasso, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec, the area developed into a tourist district packed with bars, theatres, cabarets (including the Moulin Rouge) and a proliferation of sex shows. Things got so seedy in this part of town by World War Two that soldiers rather ungallantly re-dubbed it “Pig Alley” in reference to the resident prostitutes, but Paris has reclaimed the area as a cultural hotspot in recent times and redevelopments such as The Grand Pigalle Hotel are bringing the 9th arrondissement neighbourhood back in some style.
Dorothée Meilichzon of the CHZON design agency has celebrated the essence of Pigalle throughout the design of the 37-room boutique hotel on the corner of Rues Victor-Massé and Henry Monnier; the district’s roughly octagonal footprint is reflected as a pattern motif in several instances within the interior such as drawer handles, mirrors and occasional tables. Elaborate scrolling and moulding takes the edge off all that geometrical rigidity — the fireplace surrounds for example. The accommodation options extend up into the property’s eaves, giving these suites a snug quality, while others enjoy balcony views of quiet tree-lined avenues and gardened courtyards or the livelier main streets. Nice as the rooms are, chances are you’ll be spending most of your time in the Grand Pigalle’s bar; Romée de Goriainoff, Olivier Bon, and Pierre-Charles Cros — the boozy entrepreneurs behind Experimental Cocktail Club — being the hotel’s founders. Cheers.