The foundations of our hotel date back to 1267, when the site housed the Saint Jacques hospital and provided food and shelter to pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela. In the 17th century, it was used as a place of study for Jesuits, and then occupied by the Visitandines of Holy Mary. When the Revolution came, the building was used as a prison, then a food warehouse, and was finally destroyed.
One of the celebrities to stay at the Hôtel de l’Europe was Zarafa, the first giraffe to set foot on European soil. A gift to Charles X by the Viceroy to Egypt, Zarafa, accompanied by the acclaimed naturalist Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, spent a short time here in 1827 before moving north to Paris.
The doors to the former stables still bear traces of this very unusual “customer”.
In 1839, the establishment was selected to host the municipal banquet in honor of Alphonse de Lamartine.
Slowly but steadily, the hotel’s reputation grew internationally, attracting a wide variety of foreign guests. Undoubtedly it was thanks to the English clientele that the hotel was renamed the Grand Hôtel d’Europe et d’Angleterre at the start of the 20th century.
The hotel’s entry plaque has remained in its place since this date.
The height of the hotel’s glory started in 1926 when Victor Burtin, a renowned chef from Paray le Monial and who worked in Paris, Monte-Carlo, Wiesbaden and the court of Wilhelm II in Berlin, became the chef at the Hôtel d’Europe et d’Angleterre.
When the Michelin guide was only two years old in 1932, Victor Burtin was awarded 3 stars. This was the start of the hotel’s glory days. It was an unmissable step on the gourmet trail, with customers referring rather to “chez Victor Burtin” than to the Hôtel d’Europe et d’Angleterre.
It was also during this time that seaplanes would make a landing on the Saone in front of the hotel for maintenance before heading towards India. A plethora of anecdotes flowed from the clients who came to stay or eat during the stopover, and the most famous of these customers was surely Queen Victoria.
If we browse through a copy of the guest book, from 1930 to the 1970’s we can find:
The Aga Khan, Churchill, Rockefeller, Raimu, Pagnol, Dali, Cocteau, Mistinguett, Joséphine Baker, Paul Reynaud, Jean Renoir, Van Dongen and even Colette, who was a regular customer. The world of cinema and music is also well represented, with Charles Vanel, Roger Vadim, Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot and the Jacques brothers.
Renovated and redesigned in 2013, we’ve worked hard to return some of the grandeur to this hotel. We’ve kept all of the original furnishings we could, such as the painted cement tile floors from Paray le Monial, the home town of Victor Burtin, and the chimneys which he had had installed. In particular, we made an effort to keep the chimney in the breakfast room with its “fridge”, in front of which was located the bar in 1930.
A canopy which will soon grace the entrance is sure to remind our visitors of the hotel’s history.