For those of us who arrive by train from central or southern Germany, this “grand” two-star hotel (grand being a French word for large) is conveniently located just half a block from the Gare de l’Est, i.e. the East Station.
For a single room on the fifth floor I paid 80 Euros per night in 2015. The room had a private bathroom (‘en suite’ as the British would say) and free WiFi, which was a bit slow but fairly reliable (only conked out once while I was there).
In the middle of the spiral staircase there is a tiny elevator (‘lift’ to you) of the type that is typical of older French hotels, just big enough for one person with a suitcase if both are rather slender.
The whole hotel was clean and everybody who worked there was friendly, so I was quite satisfied.
There were six Vélib’ bicycle stations close by, but they tended to run out of bikes in the mornings after the commuter trains arrived, so before leaving the hotel I made a habit of checking online to see which of the stations still had bikes available.
The entrance to the hotel is on Boulevard de Strasbourg. Here they have (modestly) left off the word Grand and just call it Hôtel de l’Europe.
In this view from my room, the church steeple in the center belongs to the nearby Church of Saint-Laurent. Notice that the building in the foreground has a metal roof, probably made of zinc, which has been typical of Paris roofs since the 19th century.
Another typical feature is that there are dozens of chimneys, since in the old days each room had its own oven for heating, and each oven had to have its own chimney.
Finally, for the benefit of the younger generation, I should point out another quaint feature, namely the old-timey 20th century television antennas on both buildings. Just a few decades ago, believe it or not, we all used to have antennas like this on our houses as this was the only means of receiving a television signal.
Breakfast in the Grand Hôtel de l’Europe cost six Euros per person and was served in a nicely renovated basement room with orange walls and a white vaulted ceiling. The breakfast itself was nothing unusual, just the typical French breakfast consisting of a croissant plus a piece of baguette with butter, jam and honey, coffee with milk and a glass of orange juice. But the unique feature of this breakfast room is that it is dominated by a fascinatingly amateurish copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, in which the enigmatic smile of the original (on display in the Louvre) is replaced by an embarrassed smirk.
As seen here in the mirror, access to the breakfast room is by a metal spiral staircase, which creaks ominously whenever anyone walks up or down on it.
Location and aerial view of Gare de l’Est (East Station) on monumentum.fr.
My photos in this post are from 2015. I revised the text in 2020.