The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris

The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris

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by Tilar J. Mazzeo
     
 

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Set against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of World War II, The Hôtel on Place Vendôme is the captivating history of Paris’s world-famous Hôtel Ritz—a breathtaking tale of glamour, opulence, and celebrity; dangerous liaisons, espionage, and resistance—from Tilar J. Manzeo, the New York Times bestselling author of

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Overview

Set against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of World War II, The Hôtel on Place Vendôme is the captivating history of Paris’s world-famous Hôtel Ritz—a breathtaking tale of glamour, opulence, and celebrity; dangerous liaisons, espionage, and resistance—from Tilar J. Manzeo, the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot and The Secret of Chanel No. 5

When France fell to the Germans in June 1940, the legendary Hôtel Ritz on the Place Vendôme—an icon of Paris frequented by film stars and celebrity writers, American heiresses and risqué flappers, playboys, and princes—was the only luxury hotel of its kind allowed in the occupied city by order of Adolf Hitler.

Tilar J. Mazzeo traces the history of this cultural landmark from its opening in fin de siècle Paris. At its center, The Hotel on Place Vendôme is an extraordinary chronicle of life at the Ritz during wartime, when the Hôtel was simultaneously headquarters to the highest-ranking German officers, such as Reichsmarshal Hermann Göring, and home to exclusive patrons, including Coco Chanel. Mazzeo takes us into the grand palace’s suites, bars, dining rooms, and wine cellars, revealing a hotbed of illicit affairs and deadly intrigue, as well as stunning acts of defiance and treachery.

Rich in detail, illustrated with black-and-white photos, The Hotel on Place Vendôme is a remarkable look at this extraordinary crucible where the future of post-war France—and all of post-war Europe—was transformed. 

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Miranda Seymour
[Mazzeo's] book is…extremely jolly. It should provide the perfect gift for anybody flush enough…to book a weekend in the "imperial suite" that was once occupied by Goering, and in which, more than 50 years later, the former Princess of Wales and Dodi al-Fayed would enjoy their suitably glamorous last supper.
Publishers Weekly
11/25/2013
The Paris Hôtel Ritz evokes 20th-century glamour, smoke-filled air, and hard-drinking patrons with names like Picasso, Proust, Hemingway, and Chanel. WWII, however, brought Nazis, adding to the odd mix of Allied spies posing as German officers, members of the Resistance, and ambitious American journalists desperate to score the next scoop. Mazzeo (The Secret of Chanel No. 5) enthrallingly depicts a hotbed of both the magnificent and the mundane, the careless carousing and deep-seated tensions that kept the hotel a primary meeting place for both Allied and Axis agents. While the book doesn’t deal directly in scenes of intrigue between key figures, its colorful vignettes reveal the hotel’s role in the unsuccessful Valkyrie operation and the struggles of Coco Chanel and a one-name French movie star to survive their “horizontal collaborations.” The stories of the hotel staff members who publicly served Hitler’s trusted officials while privately supporting the Resistance reveal particularly heroic undertakings. Readers will enjoy Mazzeo’s fascinating collection of secretive, scheming historical characters, all under one elegant roof. 19 b&w photos. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-25
Another breathless exposé of French horizontal collaboration from cultural historian Mazzeo (English/Colby Coll.; The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume, 2010, etc.). The author was warned by an aged Resistance widow not to take up this story of the Hotel Ritz as a happy collaborationist playground since everyone involved lied. The "collective French national fantasy" is that everyone helped the Resistance, yet in reality, very few actually did. Mazzeo struggles structurally with how to tell this story, first introducing the cast of characters and habitués of the Ritz, opened in 1898 in the midst of the Dreyfus Affair by Swiss founders Marie-Louise and César Ritz. Marcel Proust epitomized the group of modern artists and intellectuals and rich American transplants who frequented the hotel. The author then moves through the surrealist mood at the hotel in 1917, during World War I, before touching on the arrival of the Germans in 1940, when the wealthy regular occupants were forced to give up their quarters to German officer Herman Goring and others. Mazzeo then leaps to 1944 just before the liberation of Paris by French and American troops, which sent certain French notables into a panic as their wartime love affairs were public knowledge—e.g., Marcel Carné's favored actress Arletty, who enjoyed her Nazi lieutenant Hans-Jürgen Soehring, and, of course, Coco Chanel and her own German lover Hans von Dincklage. Mazzeo delights in the story of Ernest Hemingway's competitive swagger to secure the Ritz first and enjoy its wine cellar before his buddies Robert Capa and others could get there and the numerous "dame reporters" like Martha Gellhorn and Lee Miller, who made it all interesting. Stolen art, double agents, a legendary bartender passing notes to the Resistance: This is a rich, messy history. A gossipy, occasionally entertaining who's who that eventually grows tiresome and repetitive.
Booklist
“Fiction could not write betrayal, resistance, collaboration, or celebration with more robustness or with a more alluring who’s-who of writers, artists, and military powers than history did in this single hotel. ”
New York Post
“Tilar J. Mazzeo tells the tale of the Hotel Ritz, a landmark so imbued with glamour that it was the only hotel in Paris the Nazis ordered to stay open during the war. The antics at and around it during World War II were often shocking.”
Harper's Bazaar
“Must read. . . . Mazzeo artfully transports readers to the Nazi occupation of World War II . . . The Hôtel on Place Vendôme contextualizes the opulence of 1940s Paris, making for a work of history that reads as enticingly as a novel.”
Bookreporter
“An illuminating history of the intrigue and drama taking place inside its elegant façade. . . . The narrative reads like fiction, with the difference being accurate testimony from well-researched documents and interviews.”
Brad Thor
“This gorgeously written (and photographed) book is a feast for readers wanting to be swept away this summer. . . . Tracing the captivating history of Paris’s world-famous Hôtel Ritz, Mazzeo reveals a hotbed of illicit affairs and deadly intrigue, as well as stunning acts of defiance and treachery.”
Alan Riding
“Mazzeo pulls back the heavy curtains of the Ritz in Paris to reveal a steamy world of sex, drugs, partying and political intrigue.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061791086
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/11/2014
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
243,476
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Tilar J. Mazzeo is the author of numerous works of cultural history and biography, including the New York Times bestselling The Widow Clicquot, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, and nearly two dozen other books, articles, essays, and reviews on wine, travel, and the history of luxury. The Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College, she divides her time between coastal Maine, New York City, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

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