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August, the 29th, 2010

Hotel de la Porte Dorée, nestled just on the steps of the Bois de Vincennes in Paris’s 12th arrondissement, is exactly the charming little French hotel people dream about when they dream of coming to Paris.

This beautiful little hotel on Avenue Daumesnil is the fruit of “amour” and that warmth can be felt as soon as you walk through the doors into the fresh and inviting lobby with its red color schemes, polished hardwood floors, bouquets of fresh flowers that proprietor Christina has likely just brought back from the fresh market that morning and Pierre, the front desk person, who is there to help you practice your French.

Christina, a native Californian, and her husband Laurent Greveldinger, met some twenty years ago when she first came over to Paris on a study abroad program. They met, fell in love, and now with beautiful children, an enchanting Parisian hotel and years of a successful marriage behind them, Christina is very much enjoying life as a Franco-American in Paris.

“I’ve lived in France now as long as I had lived in the States when I first moved here,” she noted when Greening Hollywood spoke to her. Mme. Greveldinger is every inch the “Lady of the Manor,” though in this case the Manor is the charming 43 room Hotel de la Porte Dorée. Chic, slim, blond and blue-eyed with that mega-watt California smile that seems to transport the Golden State’s sunshine to Paris even on the rainiest of days, Christina most definitely found her calling when she transformed her dreams of owning and running a hotel with her husband in Paris into a successful reality.

The bedding and décor throughout the hotel are of 4-star quality. The Queen-sized beds in the larger rooms are all luxurious and are an overt invitation to slumber, the soft crisp linens enveloping you as you tuck in for a good night’s sleep. I would advise travelers to pay no mind to the hotel’s two-star designation as the quality and service you receive, especially for the exceedingly reasonable rates, put this hotel way above and beyond. They also offer special promotions, as well, for guests who book in advance.

The décor of the hotel has been done up in primarily Henry II pieces which, for Americans, qualify as antiques, but for the French would be merely “reclaimed” furniture pieces, all heavy, sculpted wood from an era when things were made to last. “My mother-in-law is very ‘Eco’ without even trying,” explained Christina who is quick and generous to attribute credit of the chosen and exquisitely framed artwork – all reproductions of pieces on display at the Louvre – and the hand refinished furnishings to both her mother and father-in-law. “My father-in-law bought old dining tables, cut them in half and used them to make the desks in the rooms, which we fastened to the walls,” explained Christina.

Throughout the hotel, Christina and her best friend, Jodie, who came over from home-town Sacramento to join in on living the Parisian life, have put in energy and consumption efficient tools to minimize wastage. Features such as lights, water, showers, dual-flush toilets are all of the highest standard toward efficient use of resources. The toiletries in the bathrooms are all organic and shower dispensers are gradually replacing the travel-sized toiletries which many note for their container wastage. For cleaning products, Christina’s staff have discovered that the age-old vinegar is not just organic, it’s a magic cleaning ingredient.

“We’re contemplating putting in a resource-saving card in each room but we want to maintain the old-world charm,” explained Christina when discussing how far to push the eco agenda. She and her staff take the time each day to do a daily audit of “lights off” throughout the hotel to minimize needless energy wastage.

Breakfast is all organic OxFam juices, Fair Trade coffees, AB (agricultur biologique) certified jams, cage-free eggs. That’s in addition to some of the best croissants and breakfast pastries you’ll find in Paris, delivered fresh from the boulangerie across the street who was named for the best croissant in Paris a few years back. The breakfast buffet is free for children under 10. There are also toys and other amenities provided for children which make Hotel de la Porte Dorée a very family friendly hotel.

The surrounding environs of the Hotel de la Porte Dorée add tremendously to its green appeal. The Promenade Planteé is one of the most beautiful nature walks you’ll find in Paris, and the start of it happens it to be only steps away from the front door of the hotel.

The Promenade Planteé is a nature path right through Paris that extends for kilometers. It is unrivalled in any city that I’ve visited so far. For much of the path, you are walking at the height of the treetops so the view onto the Parisian streets is one that allows perspective. You can start from the Bois de Vincennes and follow the path all the way to the Bastille. During your walk, you will traverse suspended bridges, flower gardens, city-scape walls of water, expansive green parks and elevated arbors with park benches. This is truly a Parisian gem and for a breath of fresh air while still getting a good tour of the city, I highly recommend it.

Complimentary WiFi. Complimentary use of computer room. Ice machine (probably the only one in Paris!) on lobby level.