An art deco landmark built in the 1920s, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, has long been a cornerstone of French culture and creativity. But it’s not just the building itself – with its ideal eighth arrondissement location, rich history and Eiffel Tower views – that’s intimately intertwined with Paris; it’s also the people. Concierges and butlers, chefs and designers, the George V family has always kept strongly connected to its home city.
We asked a handful of these in-the-know professionals for their favourite places in the City of Light, the ones that truly inspire, such as little-known cheese shops, picnic-worthy gardens and stores that showcase the latest in runway fashion. Here, their insider tips.
Christian Le Squer
Executive Chef, Le Cinq
Born in Brittany, Chef Christian Le Squer originally toyed with becoming a sailor until, lucky for us, he was introduced to cooking. Today, he’s known for his Midas whisk: He earned critical acclaim at restaurants such as Café de la Paix and Pavillon Ledoyen before signing on to helm Le Cinq at George V. The restaurant has been awarded three Michelin stars under his leadership. While Le Cinq’s exceptional reputation is consistent, Le Squer’s activity from day to day is anything but. “The thing I love about my job is the everyday challenge of not knowing what’s going to happen, or who is going to walk through the door,” he says. “We readapt every day, according to our guests.”
What are a few of your favourite specialty shops in the French capital?
Here in Paris, you can count on artisanship in every culinary craft or trade. As a Breton, it’s important for me to eat fish at least twice a week, so at Passy Covered Market I always stop by and see Christophe, my favourite fishmonger. As for cheese, I make a habit of going to Aux Bons Fromages, located on rue de la Pompe in the sixteenth arrondissement. When I want a good pastry, I think of chefs Pierre Hermé, Christophe Michalak and Cyril Lignac, among others. We are lucky to have such wonderful pastry chefs in Paris.
Where do you like to dine?
A new generation of chefs are opening bistros in different neighbourhoods all over the city, and I love finding new spots. Located in the fifteenth arrondissement, Beurre Noisette by Chef Thierry Blanqui is one recent favourite for its contemporary take on traditional Auvergne-inspired cuisine.
Chefs often have to eat after hours. What’s your go-to late-night spot?
I like Harry’s Bar, a classic Parisian watering hole with wood-panelled interiors, for its late-night ambience.
A new generation of chefs are opening bistros in different neighbourhoods all over the city, and I love finding new spots.
What would be your ideal day in Paris?
I’d start the day with a swim before having lunch at a restaurant with a terrace. After a nap, I’d go shopping in the historic Le Marais or Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhoods. Finally, I’d dine in a little restaurant that’s new to me, one where I don’t have a reservation. This way, I keep discovering Paris.
What are your favourite places within George V itself?
My favourite place in the Hotel would have to be my office, a lab for researching foods and flavours. And it’s hard to beat the Hotel’s rooftop for its incredible city views. Then, of course, there’s the dining room at Le Cinq. I always stop by to breathe in the atmosphere and chat with our guests.
What should every guest know about dining at Le Cinq?
My cuisine is an important cultural experience at George V. It speaks to an of-the-moment culinary movement that – just like the work of a perfumer or a fashion designer – truly represents the French art de vivre, or lifestyle.
George V has beautiful art deco bones and warm, sophisticated interiors, complemented by a feature we’re willing to bet you’ll never forget: the flowers. Over 12,000 stems are delivered to the Hotel every week, each one a potential brushstroke in Artistic Director Jeff Leatham’s arrangements. His pieces – tightly bound in vases, flowing romantically from sculptures, arrestingly monochromatic or awash with colour – are living works of art. And while his most prominent arrangements change monthly in the Hotel’s marble lobby, he’s also behind more than 150 bouquets in its public spaces, suites and restaurants.
What’s the best garden or public green space in Paris?
The Tuileries Palace is lovely, as is the Jardin du Luxembourg. And I often go running up to the Sacré-Coeur. Paris is just a beautiful place.
Where do you seek artistic inspiration?
My inspiration isn’t so much from a single place or person as much as a collection of who I am. A lot of the things I find truly inspiring are in movies, music, art and architecture.
If you could greet every George V guest personally, what would you want to tell them about the Hotel?
My favourite thing about George V is the spirit and soul of the Hotel. There’s so much talent and history here. It’s a sensory overload of sorts in terms of history, food, flowers – everything. I’ve travelled the whole world, and there’s no place like it.
Guest Relations Manager
After studying law and economics at Sorbonne University in Paris, Marine Sternbach rose through the ranks of the hospitality industry, working in restaurants and hotels (Plaza Athénée and Le Meurice, among others) before assuming a Guest Relations position at George V. “I am constantly impressed by the quality and skills of the people I work with,” she says. “Every day we do our best to serve guests in the same way we would serve our family.”
What cultural institutions should be on every traveller’s Paris itinerary?
My favourite Parisian monument is the Grand Palais. It’s not only a remarkable museum but also a lively cultural centre that hosts everything from fashion shows and art fairs to outdoor films and food festivals, all under its glass roof. I also recommend a stroll through the Parc de Bagatelle. Here, spectacular roses, many named for famous actors or singers, grow in abundance. And in the spring, peacocks walk among the visitors, fanning their tails.
You can order a cup of afternoon tea on the restaurant’s terrace and look out over the water to see the intricate architecture of Notre-Dame.
Where do you go for the best city views?
The roof of the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA), in the fifth arrondissement along the Seine. You can order a cup of afternoon tea on the restaurant’s terrace and look out over the water to see the intricate architecture of Notre-Dame.
What’s the best place for a celebratory dinner?
My husband and I recently had a romantic dinner at Papillon, a modern bistro. Chef Christophe Saintagne was a disciple of Alain Ducasse and ran the kitchens of the Plaza Athénée and Le Meurice for many years. Dishes such as grilled mackerel with olives and citrus, or gnocchi with shellfish and horseradish, are surprising, flavourful and balanced.
What shops shouldn’t be missed when in Paris?
I love Le Bon Marché, located on the Left Bank, which was the city’s first modern department store when it originally opened in 1838. To me, it symbolizes the true Parisian shopping experience because it carries a choice selection of designers, many of whom aren’t very well known to mainstream shoppers. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a wonderful place to stroll among the stalls and discover the latest trends in fashion. My other go-to shop is Morenita, located in the Batignolles neighbourhood. Not only does it have lovely furnishings – I outfitted my entire apartment here – but also lovely gifts such candles, vases and jewellery.
What’s one of your favourite places within George V?
The Penthouse Suite. The view from the terrace is one of a kind; it’s a place where you can sit in the evening and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle, framed by millions of other lights. I was born in Paris and have lived here all my life, and I still find it magical.
What should every guest know about the Hotel?
We are the only palace hotel in Europe with a collection of five Michelin stars. Our restaurants each have their own identity and are a testimony to our team’s savoir faire.
Chef Simone Zanoni
Chef, Le George
“One of the best aspects of working at George V is the freedom that we each have to create,” says Simone Zanoni, who worked for Gordon Ramsay in London before becoming chef at the Mediterranean-style Le George restaurant. “Four Seasons instils the sain principal, or an emphasis on well-being, in its employees. Naturally, this intuitive service and attention extends to our guests.” Now with its own Michelin star, Zanoni’s Le George is praised for its airy and elegant dining room and plates such as tagliatoni with black truffles and an onion tarte Tatin.
Where do you source ingredients for Le George?
We source from Italy directly. I also grow fresh seasonal herbs and vegetables in our sustainable kitchen garden, and what we don’t have room for I buy from a friend and organic producer in Versailles.
What are a few of your favourite specialty food shops in Paris?
One choice spot is Cooperativa Latte Cisternino, an Italian boutique that has products from the Pouilles region in Southern Italy. I also like the wholesale market Rungis, where you can find almost anything that’s in season.
Where do you love to eat in Paris?
I recommend Mori Venice Bar, a Venetian restaurant helmed by Chef Massimo Mori, for its wonderful cuisine and glamorous yet friendly atmosphere. Start off your meal sipping different kinds of spritz cocktails while sampling great Italian cold cuts.
I love the two sculptures that we have in Le George. They are actually made of cooking paper – folded, glued and dried – by Parisian artist Junior Fritz Jacquet.
Where would you go for a nightcap?
At Chef Akrame’s Atelier Vivanda, you can order a great steak for dinner and enjoy a last drink before going home.
What would be your ideal day in Paris?
I’d start with breakfast at Ladurée and then take a bicycle ride to le Marché des Enfants Rouges, a covered food market in the third arrondissement. I’d buy whatever is in season and take it home to cook lunch with my children. After a nap, I’d head to Caffè Armani and enjoy an aperitif before wandering around the city to find a new place for dinner.
What is something that you hope every guest at George V has a chance to see?
I love the two sculptures that we have in Le George. They are actually made of cooking paper – folded, glued and dried – by Parisian artist Junior Fritz Jacquet. He studied origami in Japan and created these for the restaurant’s opening. They’re called “the volcano” because of their shape and the light they attract.
Anything you’d like to add?
If I could invite every guest to have a glass of Champagne on the Penthouse terrace, I would!