Jean-Luc showing me the book of signatures

Jean-Luc showing me the book of signatures

Meet the handsome twinkle-eyed Jean-Luc of Hotel Lutetia – the most charming concierge in Paris. I had the privilege of interviewing him last month. I know you will love Jean-Luc as much as I do after reading all about his amazing career as the concierge at Hotel Lutetia for 43 years!

Weekend In Paris: What are you most proud of in your career?

Jean-Luc: I’ve been here for 43 years. I never moved, I am so proud of that. I began working at Hotel Lutetia on Dec 9, 1970.

Weekend In Paris: What’s different about then and now?

Jean-Luc: The stays are shorter now. People used to stay for a few weeks, now they stay for a few nights. Many visitors used to stay for months at a time and some lived here for years. Most visitors are from the U.S. and Europe. It used to be more Europeans in the past, but we have always had guests from all over the world.

Weekend In Paris: What does the symbol of the sailboat on the building and rooms to the hotel represent?

Jean-Luc: The motto of Paris is ‘Fluctuat nec mergitur’, which means roughly translated, ‘tossed by the waves but will not sink’. Paris, having been conquered by many an invading people from the Roman and Latin times via the Seine, uses boats as symbols and once you know this you will notice the boat symbol all over the city. Our hotel uses it as well that you will notice throughout the spaces and on the façade.

I took a photo of a photo of Jean-Luc holding his César sculpture

I took a photo of a photo of Jean-Luc holding his César sculpture

Weekend In Paris: What is one of your most unusual requests?

Jean-Luc: My biggest challenge came from a Californian guest who comes every year. He knows I rise to any challenge, so when he was back in the U.S. he got in touch with me to request 84 apple fruit tarts from Poliane, the best bakery in Paris around the corner from the hotel. It was his wedding anniversary and he and his wife were having 84 guests at their party in California. It took 3 or 4 days to send them to California and they were so pleased.

Weekend In Paris: What was your most personally rewarding day on the job in your 43 years of experience?

Jean-Luc: The famous sculptor César Baldaccini (know simply as César) lived in the hotel for 10 years. He asked me for 30 kilos of the old iron keys from the hotel. He melted them down and he made them into a sculpture for me. It was delivered to me on my birthday. He really became my friend and I treasure the piece. I also have a book that people sign and César drew a sketch in there for me.

Weekend In Paris: Tell me more about this book of yours…

Jean-Luc: I have a book that I keep always with me. It has signatures and drawings from famous people who have lived here or who have been guests here. I don’t know the value, because I would never sell it, because it’s a witness to my life here at the hotel. Sometimes I am so sad thinking about it all ending when I retire, but only for five minutes. Then I feel happy about my career. I have met some of the most important people in the world. Neil Armstrong was a particular special honor for me to meet and of course many French dignitaries and celebrities.


Neil Armstrong
Art Garfunkel
Brad Pitt
Gregory Peck and Christopher Plummer
Joan Baez
Sigourney Weaver
Jerry Hall
Percy Sledge

We paused here for a few minutes for me to thumb through the pages of the book Jean-Luc guards with his life. I was teary-eyed because Jean-Luc was a bit teary showing me the chronicle of his life’s work. I could tell he is feeling melancholy about his impending retirement this January and is enjoying the walk through memory lane with me. His grace and charm when speaking about the people whose signatures fill the pages of the leather-bound book make me see the depth of his emotional connection with his time spent at Hotel Lutetia.

Weekend In Paris: Has anyone ever refused to sign the book when you ask?

Jean-Luc: No, never. In fact, some people ask me if they could sign the book. Gerard Depardieu lived next door and knew about my book and came in and asked me to if he could sign it. He is an ordinary man who acts just like a normal Parisian, not a famous actor

The Concierge team of Hotel Lutetia

The Concierge team of Hotel Lutetia

Weekend In Paris: What are the most frequent questions tourists ask you the most?

Jean-Luc: They ask me the typical things, like to get reservations for restaurants and the Opèra. I used to keep a bound book with the information, but now I keep all my sources of information in an electronic address book. I keep a copy of the book at home in case something ever happens to this one. It’s like my Bible.

Weekend In Paris: When you are not working, what are your favorite things to do in Paris?

Jean-Luc: I never see Paris. I prefer to go to the country-side for quiet time. I live next to Versailles and have a house near Orlean. It is two and a half hours by car. It’s very quiet and green. I commute back on Monday mornings. My main residence is in Versailles so just an hour by train.

Weekend In Paris: What is your favorite French dish? American?

Jean-Luc: Dessert is my favorite in any country – cake, tart with honey. My wife makes the best Apple tart with honey. It’s served hot and with vanilla ice cream.

Jan 2013 Gal Pals with Chef Pasteau of l'Epi Dupin

Jan 2013 Gal Pals with Chef Pasteau of l’Epi Dupin

Weekend In Paris: What are restaurants you recommend to guests in Paris?

Jean-Luc: L’Epi is my favorite. (from Priscilla: Mine too! How amazing!) Dans Les Landes tapas restaurant is another good casual place to eat in the Latin Quarter. And, there’s La petit chaise – all the Americans love it, simple but typical French and not too expensive.

Weekend In Paris: Most people prefer either Café Flore or Café Les Deux Magots. Which one is better?

Jean-Luc: The Les Deux Magots location is better, but the food is the same.

Weekend in Paris: When you retire, who will fill your shoes?

Jean-Luc: There are 17 concierge’s on call 24 hours a day. I have always taken the holidays off so someone who is very competent is always here. The training is on the job. I have a few colleagues who have been here 20 years, 30 years, and the newer ones learn from us.

Jean-Luc receiving his medal

Jean-Luc receiving his Chevalier d’Ordre National du Mérite

Weekend In Paris: What is the future of Hotel Lutetia?

Jean-Luc: I’m happy and I’m not happy for something. The hotel will be remodeled at some point which will be nice, but I will be retired. Some suites will be the same, but they will renovate most rooms. The Concorde Group is no longer our designation, but happily the name of the hotel will stay the same and the exceptional service will remain. There will be a pool and great changes to the amenities of the hotel which will be exciting for our guests.

Weekend In Paris: What will you do when you retire?

Jean-Luc: Gardening….I used to travel a lot so maybe some travel. My favorite place is Oahu. I’ve been there four times. Newport Beach resident Dorothy Zinn was the owner of the LA Lakers and treated me to a special night watching the Lakers with Magic Johnson. Spike Lee and Mike Tyson were seated next to me. I can’t forget her.

Weekend In Paris: What is your greatest honor?

The lights at the Lutetia will shine a little less without Jean-Luc

The lights at the Lutetia will shine a little less without Jean-Luc

Jean-Luc: Pierre Bergé with Yves Saint Laurent is a friend of mine. He made me a Chevalier d’Ordre National du Mérite to celebrate all my years serving the public at the hotel. I received a special pin to wear, but I don’t wear it at work because it might make some important clients jealous. It was a huge honor and my wife of 36 years was there by my side.

We concluded our interview with a viewing of a video of the moment that Jean-Luc received his Chevalier designation. It was so touching to see the crowd who attended the ceremony and to see his wife by his side amongst the backdrop of hundreds of people who were there to honor the career of Jean-Luc. It was my honor to have interviewed Paris’ most chivalrous man. Bisous Jean-Luc!

All photos property of The Weekend In Paris. Must obtain permission before use.



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Suzy August 11, 2013 - 9:54 pm

What a fascinating man! He has certainly met a lot of notable people. And it is so admirable that he has kept the same job for all those years.

Kim 24/7 in France August 10, 2013 - 1:24 am

What a touching story about dedication, integrity, and loyalty – I wish him all the best when he retires. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Ann August 9, 2013 - 8:28 am

Well done!!

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