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. Mazzeo, 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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About 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.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters xiii
Prologue: The Hotel Ritz, the Mirror of Paris 1
1 This Switzerland in Paris: June 1940 7
2 All the Talk of Paris: June 1, 1898 23
3 Dogfight above the Place Vendome: July 27, 1917 39
4 Diamonds as Big as the Ritz: September 1, 1940 49
5 The Americans Drifting to Paris: 1944 61
6 The French Actress and Her Nazi Lover 75
7 The Jewish Bartender and the German Resistance 87
8 The American Wife and the Swiss Director 103
9 The German General and the Fate of Paris 115
10 The Press Corps and the Race to Paris 123
11 Ernest Hemingway and the Ritz Liberated 139
12 Those Dame Reporters: August 26, 1944 151
13 The Last Trains from Paris 163
14 Coco's War and Other Dirty Linen 175
15 The Blond Bombshell and the Nuclear Scientists 195
16 From Berlin with Love and Last Battles in Paris: 1945 205
17 Waning Powers in Paris: June 1951 217
18 The War's Long Shadow: May 29, 1969 227
Selected Bibliography 267
Photography Credits 277
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great reading of the bourgeois in Paris during WWII. NOT YOUR EVERDAY WAR STORY BUT A COLLECTION OF CHACTERS the lived and survived in Paris during WWII at the famous Ritz Hotel. The highly articulate author identifies several sites that were used by The Nazis to carry out there dirty work when it came to security breaches. This book appeals to cross-culture reader, historian, military professional or traveler looking to fill-in those Paris history during the war years.
I enjoyed the book. However, I was disappointed by the lack of editing and fact checking. One error that blatantly stands out is Hemingway's suicide. Mazzeo wrote that his suicide took place in Key West which is incorrect. The suicide took place at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. The name of the Swiss born deputy manager of the Ritz is incorrectly spelled as Hans Franz Elminger rather than Hans Franz Elmiger. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were not sent off to Bermuda. They were relocated to Nassau where the Duke served as the Governor General of the Bahamas for the balance of the war. Nevertheless, the stories concerning the list of characters were quite entertaining.
I read this book based on a recommendation I heard on the Today show. This book is fascinating. I learned a great deal about the French Resistance and some prominent figures during WWII. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the book, but the details on the people are what really grab you. A good read if you enjoy suspense or historical novels.
A most enjoyable book concerning the events that occurred during the 2nd World War, & the German occupation of Paris (the Vichy govt.). The Hotel on Place Vendome was implicated with the many people residing there during this time, including many famous names & their roles during the war.
I love history and I really loved this book. I first heard about it on the Today Show. Fascinating characters in the great city of Paris. If you love Paris and history you will love this book!
Basically a good book - pretty much like a series of short stories. BUT there is one glaring historical error (which makes me wonder about other inaccuracies) - the author asserts that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were sent to Bermuda to sit out the war from which they gave Churchill many problems. The Duke and Duchess were actually sent to Nassau in the Bahamas where the Duke was posted as governor. And yes, he gave Churchill many headaches. BUT while both Bermuda and the Bahamas were British colonies - now two different countries - they are not even in the same body of water (the former in the Atlantic Ocean and the latter in the Caribbean) let alone within a thousand miles of one another. And having said that, the Duke and Duchess would have been thrilled to be in Bermuda while they detested the Bahamas. But, Bermuda was too integral to the war relationship between Britain and the US and it could not have been risked as a nesting place for those two Fascist collaborators. This error occurs twice - once in Chapter 14 and again in Chapter 17. Funny, the author has provided notations for almost everything in a large notes section, but not for this..... This needs to be corrected in future editions if there are any.