Ask someone their favorite European city, and the overwhelming response is likely to be “Paris.” Although I think of myself as reasonably well traveled, the City of Lights had, until recently, eluded me. In the summer of 2022, I finally fixed this. But since it was my very first trip, I opted to keep my itinerary fairly simple and limited to the greatest hits. To accomplish this, I wanted to stay somewhere central and well connected. I also wanted it to be charming and, well, Parisian.
Enter Saint-Germain des Pres. Situated in the sixth arrondissement of Paris’s vibrant Left Bank, it is a quintessential Parisian neighborhood. Home to the Eglise Saint-Germain des Pres, the oldest abbey in Paris, the area occupies prime position near the Seine and is ambling distance from a number of historical and cultural sites, such as the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Musee D’Orsay. The narrow, winding streets are lined with artsy boutiques and picturesque cafés where you might have rubbed shoulders with the likes of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus, who once lived and worked nearby. Located on a quiet side street of this storied neighborhood is the Pavillon Faubourg Hotel, which at once pays homage to the area’s rich cultural and literary history and yet manages to look and feel very much like a chic Parisian friend’s apartment.
This recently refurbished four-star hotel is the latest venture from the boutique hotel group Chevalier Paris, which also owns the Pavillon de La Reine, Pavillon des Lettres, and the Hôtel du Petit Moulin, all of which are located on Paris’s Right Bank. Pavillon Faubourg opened in April 2022 and comprises 47 rooms and suites, a restaurant, a bar, and a new spa. The property is a stylish unification of three distinct 17th-century buildings that manages to be greater than the sum of its parts. Renowned interior designer Didier Benderli, known for his eclectic style, has united the interiors through smart design choices, while retaining the unique character of each building’s facade. The result? A hotel with architectural character and an air of cozy, contemporary elegance.
The rooms are spacious and well appointed, and the mostly neutral color palette—tan, navy, and burgundy—is accented with interesting lighting fixtures and contrasting textures. The 753-square-foot James Joyce suite, the hotel’s signature offering, has herringbone parquet flooring, sloped ceilings, and an uninterrupted view of the neighborhood’s tiled rooftops. A handcrafted chandelier specially commissioned from Parisian furniture and lighting designer Alexandre Logé serves as a sculptural centerpiece.
Outside the rooms, common spaces encourage you to linger. The lobby opens into a “living room” area with a sculptural fireplace, mottled green walls, and comfortable seating. Natural light from a glass ceiling illuminates the space, evoking the sense of an indoor garden providing sanctuary from the hustle of the city outside. Descend the spiral stone staircase to the right of the living room to reach the newly completed spa. Previously a wine store and cabaret, the area’s subterranean location, natural stone walls and marbled tiles, and subdued lighting instill a feeling of zen. The spa includes a hammam, a meditation and yoga room, a gym, and two massage rooms, furnished with custom treatments and products by Codage Paris. Also notable is the plunge pool: Pavillon Faubourg is the only four-star hotel with a pool in this neighborhood.
Pavillon Faubourg is very much influenced by the rich literary past of its surroundings, and the social hub of the hotel is a warmly lit salon that connects the lobby, bar, and restaurant. The wood-paneled bookshelves house a variety of Gallimard French titles that guests are invited to borrow during their stay. The salon offers cozy nooks with stylish coffee tables and comfortable seating to relax, read, and work. More than a century ago, Irish writer James Joyce completed his seminal work Ulysses while staying at the site of the hotel. Today, Pavillon Faubourg pays tribute to this history by naming its bar and signature suite after the writer, and the restaurant is called “Les Parisiens” as an homage to Joyce’s Dubliners.
Dubbed a “neo-brasserie”, the restaurant offers a menu rooted in traditional French cooking with an elevated modern twist—think seabream carpaccio with bottarga, trout egg pickles, and crème fraîche; there is also an eclectic wine list showcasing local winemakers. The vision is crafted by award-winning chef Thibault Sombardier, who previously worked at the Michelin-starred restaurant Antoine and won second place in the 2014 series of Top Chef (France). The restaurant and bar are both open to the public, making the hotel very much a part of the neighborhood it calls home.