The Hotel Britannique is born, right in the heart of the 1st area of Paris. The Hotel is situated some 100 meters from the oldest square of the right bank, 20 Avenue Victoria.
During the middle of the 19th Century, under the reign of Napoléon the III, the Baron Haussmann was hired to modernize Paris streets. Haussmann began his campaign ‘Paris embellished, Paris enlarged, Paris sanitised’ by clearing away any confusing city path, making way for domineering and uniformed straight roads. X marked the spot at Les Halles, just 400 meters from the hotel which he believed to be the ‘belly of Paris’ and endeavored to design the rest of his new city around it.
In 1854, the Avenue Victoria had seen its early days under the title of ‘Boulevard de l’Hôtel de Ville’. This would be replaced one year later by ‘Avenue Victoria’, in honor of the British Queen’s visit to the town Hall of Paris on the 23rd August, 1855. Queen Victoria had been the distinguished guest of Napoléon III at the 1855 Paris Universal Exhibition. This moment marked the beginning of the cordial agreement between the two Empires.
It is at Number 20 of this avenue of scarcely finished buildings that the Perret-Baxter family chose to establish the Hotel Britannique.
« Presented to Monsieur et Madame Perret, Hotel Britannique Paris, by a few Scarborough friends, for their kind attention during a visit to Paris ».
The fall of the Second Empire – Napoléon III is denounced and the Prussians occupied Paris
The Paris Commune, an attempt of proletarian revolution. Massacre of the Communards by the Versaillais. Paris burning in may.
Rivoli Street situated some 100 meters from the Hotel Britannique
The construction of the first telephone network begins
The celebration of the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in the United States of America.
« Liberty enlightening the world », better known as the Statue of Liberty, was offered to the States by France in 1886, as a sign of friendship to celebrate the declaration of American independence. The inauguration of the statue was celebrated on October 28th 1886 in the presence of the president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. The idea came from the French legal expert and professor, Edward of Laboulaye in 1865, under Napoléon III: « I will fight for liberty, I will call for the free people. I will try to glorify the republic over this country, and I will continue until that day arrives in my country ». The gift of the Statue of Liberty to a Republic, located on the other side of the Atlantic, played an important role in the fight for the maintenance of the IIIrd Republic.
The Statue of Liberty would go on to become a national symbol for the United States, representing the liberty and emancipation of man with regards to oppression.
The building of the Eiffel Tower commences
The celebration of the centennial of the 1789 French Revolution. Inauguration of the Eiffel Tower.
The french citizens living in USA reciprocates the offer of friendship by donating a representation of the Statue of Liberty. The statue was also given to the French at this moment in history in order to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. One can read on the plaque « 5th JULY 1776 – 14th JULY 1789″. It was inaugurated by the President Carnot on July the 4th 1892, 6 years after the donation of the « New York » Statue of Liberty. In 1937, during the Universal Exhibition, Bartholdi’s wish was finally granted and the positioning of the French statue was changed in order to face towards New York.
The Sorbonne holds the « Congress for the restoration of the Olympic Games »
A census is taken counting some 94 255 bicycles and 89 automobiles in Paris
The Universal Exhibition and the Olympic Games at Paris. The first metro line appears (Vincennes – Porte Maillot). This is also the beginning of the period of progress named ‘La Belle Epoque’
The great flood of Paris. Somewhat slightly elevated, the area surrounding the Hotel Britannique is left surprisingly untouched despite its close proximity to the Seine
The beginning of the First World War and the end of the ‘Belle Epoque’. The Hotel Britannique opens its doors to the American-English Quakers, providing mutual aid for those in need
A part of the Hotel Britannique, dedicated to the Quakers
The Christian Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, establishes its first official french headquarters in Paris at the Hotel Brtitannique. The lasting documentation of this period tells us that the Perret-Baxters had great sympathy for the friend’s plight which was reciprocated with a commemorative plaque, still standing in the hotel lobby today.
« This Hotel, during the great war of 1914 – 1918, housed the Quaker mission of the Friends Society and gave aid to the population and reconstructed regions touched by the war. During the years 1914 – 1920 more than a million volunteers, English and American and both women and men, took part in this cause and passed through the hotel. The red and black star, the sign of the mission, was first seen in 1870-1871 by the members of a similar mission sent to France by the Quakers in order to help the victims of this war ».
The movement founded by the descendants of the Anglican Church during the 17th Century is documented in Voltaire’s ‘Philosophical Letters’, published in 1734 :
‘I believed that the doctrine and the history of such extra-ordinary people were worthy of curiosity. To find out about them, I visited one the most eminent Quakers in England (Andrew Pitt, a linen draper from Hampstead) who had been in commerce for thirty years, but had decided to limit his wealth and wants, and had retired to the countryside close to London. I went to seek him out in his retreat which was a small house, well-built and clean and without ornaments.
The Quaker was a fresh-faced old man who had never been ill, because he had never known passions or intemperance. I have never seen in my life a nobler or more engaging countenance than his. He was dressed, like all those of his religion, in a plain coat without pleats in the sides or buttons on either the pockets or the sleeves. He was wearing a large hat, with turned down brim, like our clergy. He received me with his hat on his head, and came towards me without the slightest inclination of his body, but there was more politeness in the open, humane expression on his face than in the custom of drawing one leg behind the other, and carrying the head-covering in one’s hand.’
“Our apparel is also somewhat different from that of others that it may be a perpetual warning to us not to imitate them. Others wear the badges and marks of their several dignities, and we those of Christian humility. We fly from all assemblies of pleasure, from diversions of every kind, and from places where gaming is practised; and, indeed, our case would be very deplorable, should we fill with such levities as those I have mentioned the heart which ought to be the habitation of God ».
« We never swear an oath, not even in a court of law. We think that the name of God ought not to be prostituted in the miserable squabbles of men. When we are obliged to appear before a magistrate on someone else’s account (for law suits are unknown amongst Friends) we affirm the truth by a « yes » or a « no ». The judges believe us on our simple word, whilst so many other Christians perjure themselves upon the Gospels »……
« And when, after a victory is gained, the whole city of London is illuminated; when the sky is in a blaze with fireworks, and a noise is heard in the air, of thanksgivings, of bells, of organs, and of the cannon, we groan in silence, and are deeply affected with sadness of spirit and brokenness of heart, for the sad havoc which is the occasion of those public rejoicings. »
Opposing the war, the Religious Society of Friends offered their generous services to the hospitals during the World War I, believing that God is charitable and man must be also.
The end of the war. After the end of the conflict, a generation dreaming of a new world proclaims ‘never again’
The beginning of the ‘Années Folles’. The utopian ideals of the 19th Century gave way to individualism and extravagance. It’s during this period that Paris saw the emergence of art movements such as Surrealism, Dada and Art Deco. It is also at this time that the American writer Henry Miller would call the crossroads of Vavin-Raspail-Montparnasse « the navel of the world »
The Olympic Games
Charles Lindbergh receives a hero’s welcome after traversing the North Atlantic
The Inauguration of the tennis stadium Rolland-Garros
The first television show
3rd of June, the Nazis bombard Paris: 250 deaths
3rd of September, Allied bombardment: 400 deaths
21st of April, Allied bombardment: 600 deaths. 19th of August, the liberation of Paris
Luckily Hotel Britannique’s treasure escapes the Nazi’s robbery!
During the four years of Nazi occupation, the owner of the Hotel Britannique – a descendent of the family Perret-Baxter, founders of the Hotel, had taken care to bury his valuable treasure in the ground of the hotel’s vaulted cellars. And what a treasure ! Dozens of bottles of vintage Sauternes wines aged from the beginning of the century and bottles of Bourgogne, dating from the 20s. To celebrate the liberation of Paris (and the bottle’s liberation from the ground) certain were opened and, undoubtedly, greatly appreciated. However a great number were preserved even into the 80s. The current owner of the hotel remembers to have had the great honour to taste, in 1983, a bottle of Vosnes-Romanée aged 60 years. That is an experience that one never forgets.
The first fashion show (Christian Dior)
The revolution of spirits tumbles Paris.
8th December, the opening of the metro/train station RER Chatelet-Les Halles, the most important metro stop in the world. It is also the closest station to the Hotel.
The Hotel Britannique changes hands from the Perret-Baxter family. The British born Miss Louise Claude Baxter, born the 17th May 1926, passes the Hotel over to the family Danjou. Of French nationality the Danjous originate not from Great Britain, but Brittany.
The hotel closes for six months for important renovation works. A lift is installed, the bathrooms are added, each floor is rearranged and the decoration is renewed.
The Hotel Britannique receives its 3rd star
The hotel enters the very selective club of quality hotels selected by the Hotels with Charm Guide
The Hotel Britannique is placed the 37th greatest hotel out of the 1841 hotels in Paris by Tripadvisor. A great 150th birthday present, Champagne!
« Hotel Britannique Paris », a romantic 3 star Hotel in Paris.