Hôtel des 3 Nations

In August of 2008 I stayed for eight nights at a two-star hotel called Hôtel des 3 Nations at the corner of rue du Château d’Eau and rue de Lancry in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. I chose this hotel because it was inexpensive and within easy walking distance of the Gare de l’Est (East Station), which is where the trains arrive from Frankfurt am Main and other places in central and southern Germany.

This is an old hotel and smelled a bit musty in some corners, but I liked it because the people were friendly and I had a quiet room looking onto a courtyard which was no doubt quite shabby in earlier times, but now had lots of greenery growing on the walls.

They let people keep their bicycles in the courtyard overnight, which I considered a big plus point even though I didn’t need it this time because I was using the Vélib’ bikes.

Breakfast choices were limited, as is usual in cheap Paris hotels, but what they had was fine and they never ran out of croissants.

Lobby of the Hôtel des 3 Nations

Since this hotel is called the “Hotel of the 3 Nations”, I of course wanted to know which three nations they had in mind, but nobody could tell me until I met the owner, a friendly Chinese woman who said that when she bought the hotel she kept the traditional name which it has had for many years. She doesn’t know why that name was originally chosen, or by whom, but for her the three nations are the nation where the hotel is located (France) the nation she comes from (China) and whatever nation the guest comes from.

Otherwise, the only Chinese aspect of the hotel was that in the bathroom the little packets of shower cream and shampoo had lots of Chinese writing on them, plus a few words in a charming variety of English.

The light blue packet was labeled:

Sharcart Shampoo
base make treatment
show whole mode
formal elegant demeanour

And the pink packet was labeled:

base make treatment
show whole mode
formal elegant demeanour

Any questions?

Hôtel des 3 Nations from the street

After posting this review to the now-defunct website VirtualTourist (VT), I received some interesting feedback from VT-member Jean-Louis Benoit-Guyod (“JLBG”), who was curious about the name of the hotel. He did some research and found several references to “the three nations” from various centuries. The earliest was from the year 1266, when the University of Paris had two rectors, one for “the Nation of France” and one for “the three Nations of Picardie, Normandie and England.”

Jean-Louis wrote: “That would be fine but seems too old.”

So he kept on looking, and found several other possibilities. The most plausible seemed to be from the 19th century, as described by Karl Kautsky (1854-1938) in “The Three Sources of Marxism.” In a chapter called “The synthesis of German, French and English thought”, Kautsky wrote:

“In the 19th century, three nations represented modern civilization. Only someone who had assimilated the spirit of all three, and had thus armed himself with all the acquisitions of his century, could have produced the immense body of work that Marx accomplished. The synthesis of the thought of these three nations, in which each of them loses its unilateral aspect, constitutes the point of departure for the historical contribution of Marx and Engels.” (My translation.)

After finding this quotation, Jean-Louis recalled that the Hôtel des 3 Nations was near the railway stations Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord. Because of this, he wrote, “it is clear that the Three Nations are France, Germany (Gare de l’Est) and England (Gare du Nord). I have always learned that the more obvious the explanation is, the more likely it is to be true, so I believe this is THE explanation. Thank you Karl Marx for the clue!”

And thank you, Jean-Louis, for checking this out!

My photos in this post are from 2008. I revised the text in 2021.

See more posts about the 10th arrondissement of Paris.
See more posts about the now-defunct website VirtualTourist.

5 thoughts on “Hôtel des 3 Nations”

  1. Last time we stayed in Paris it was also in the 10th arrondissement. As you say, a very convenient location. Love the labelling on the toiletries! Your post led to me reminiscing about the various hotels I have stayed in, over the years, in Paris…

    1. I try to stay in a different district each time, so I can get to know them all. But some are more convenient than others, like the ones near the East Station.

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