Private mansions: The lodging of choice for celebs in Paris

The likes of Kim Kardashian opt for exclusive and secluded "hotels particuliers" or mansion houses when they come to Paris rather than Airbnb or a traditional hotel. And you can see why.

Private mansions: The lodging of choice for celebs in Paris
Photo: AFP

When news broke that Kim Kardashian had been robbed at gunpoint in a plush hotel in Paris, the first question everyone asked was “which hotel”?

Then it was “how did they get past security?” or “How did they know what room she was in?”

It later became clear the attack did not take place in Le Bristol or the Ritz or any other traditional exclusive hotels in Paris, but in a “hotel particulier”.

Paris is full of hotel particuliers, which are exclusive urban private mansion houses often complete with gardens and courtyards, where huge aristocratic families used to call home.

There are believed to be around 500 in Paris today, but there was some 2,000 back in the 17th century.

One architect in 1688 defined them as “less beautiful than palaces but more beautiful than simple lodgings”.

Many have been converted into numerous apartments which are often rented out the extremely rich and famous.

The one that Kardashian rented out – known as Le Pourtales – has been used by many celebs in the past during their stay in the French capital.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Prince, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jay-Z and of course the Kardashians have all made Le Pourtales their homes in recent stays in the French capital.

(The big red door hiding Les Pourtales. AFP)

It stands in the eighth arrondissement on Rue Tronchet, not far from the famous Madeleine church.

It is popular because, as Le Figaro newspaper writes, you would “hardly even notice it” and as a result offers its guests “maximum discretion”.

Hidden behind a mammoth red door it contains nine separate apartments that can be rented out for several nights or weeks.

The apartments range from 95 square metres to 350 square metres. Each one has access to a team of 20 staff including a chef.

Classed as a “historic monument” in 2002 it is apparently not advertised anywhere, it doesn't even have its own website, with the owners preferring to depend on word of mouth to target foreign celebs.

Apartment prices are reportedly around €2,000 a night and can go up to €15,000 for the Sky Penthouse, located on the sixth and seventh floors.

One website described Le Pourtales as one of the best-kept secrets in Paris since it opened in 2010. Even after Kardashian’s robbery, several neighbours said had no idea celebs had been staying in their street.

There’s no plaque on the wall to ring the buzzer and no security staff standing outside on the street, a point that has been made after Kardashian was robbed.

But as Yves Abitol from the company My Concierge points out, most celebs bring with them their own security staff.

Les Pourtales is of course not the only Paris mansion that caters for celebs looking for an exclusive home.

The Reserve Paris near the Trocadero and Royal Monceau are just two others that cater to the rich and famous.

(The Hotel Lambert in the Île Saint-Louis, one of Paris's most famous hotel particuliers. AFP) 

Not all hotel particuliers are rented out to celebs hoping to hide out in the City of Light.

Many hotel particuliers have been transformed into museums which are open for visitors, such as the Musée Eugene Delacroix, and the Maison de Victor Hugo.

Others like the Hotel de Beauvais have been converted into a court of appeal.


Some hotel particuliers have been owned by some of Paris's most famous residents like Gerard Depardieu.

In 2012, the actor decided to put his Hotel de Chambon, (see photo above) a listed property in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des-Pres quarter up for sale for a price tag of €50 million.

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Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

If you're researching the French property market, you might have come across mentions of 'courtiers' - here's what they do and whether they are necessary.

Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

The French ‘courtier‘ is usually translated as a broker, and the Notaires Association describes their role like this: “the broker is a true intermediary in banking operations. His/her role is to negotiate the best rates for you, but not only that: they will also find the most advantageous financing conditions for the realisation of your project.”

Essentially they act as an intermediary between you and the banks, so they’re only required if you need a mortgage or a loan in order to buy your French property. 

Their job is to research the best deals for you and then to help you put together your application and ensure that all your paperwork is correct – unlike the notaire, instructing a courtier is not a required part of the process, so the decision on whether to instruct one is up to you. 

So is it worth it?

Among French buyers, around 30 percent of mortgages are obtained using the services of a courtier, and this rises to 60 percent among young, first-time buyers, who generally find it harder to access credit.

Some of things to consider are your level of French and confidence in negotiating French bureaucracy, your financial situation (since French mortgage lenders tend to be stricter than those in the UK or US) and whether you currently live in France or not (since there are extra hoops to jump through for overseas buyers).

READ ALSO Is now a good time to buy a home in France?

“Things have changed,” Trevor Leggett, group president of Leggett International estate agents, told The Local. “It’s now more important than ever to work closely with a reputable broker.

“In France it is all paper-based, very old-school and extremely bureaucratic, a different world entirely to the UK. Preparing the client “dossier” so that it will be accepted is an art form.”

READ ALSO MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

He advised non-resident international clients, particularly, who may not be au fait with the French system to seek the help of a broker who knows the ropes.

“The question is no longer really about savings,” he said. “It is about finding a bank that can actually lend to the client profile, interests rate are secondary. 

“It occasionally happens that one bank can be played off against another, or to shop around, but it’s a rare event nowadays.”

READ ALSO Revealed: The ‘hidden’ extra costs when buying property in France

And he had no hesitation in recommending that prospective buyers find a broker to sort out the financing.

“The lending market has tightened for international buyers and a good one is worth their weight in gold,” he said.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Time-frame for buying and selling property in France

In France, you make an offer on a property and then you begin the mortgage process (while in the UK it’s the other way round) so problems in getting your mortgage approved could lead to you losing your dream property.

“[Using a courtier] can be the difference between buying and not,” added Trevor.

“It’s not just any possible language barrier – but understanding the process and the different players in the market.”

How much?

The cost of hiring a courtier is borne by the buyer – but how much do they charge?

The courtier usually charges a percentage of the total mortgage amount – fees must be fixed in advance and are only payable once your mortgage application has been approved. 

Fees vary between different areas and different businesses, but the average fee is €2,000, which amounts to around one percent of the purchase price.

Many brokers set a minimum amount – around €1,500 – for smaller loans, and take a percentage of larger loans, so how much you pay depends on your property budget.