A handsome 19th-century listed townhouse restaurant and wine haven located within the Golden Triangle, Le Clarence opened last winter following a three-year transformation.
The idea is to bring a little piece of Bordeaux to Paris. Guests are guided to the 2nd-floor private lounge, a sumptuous salon with French windows overlooking the Grand Palais. There’s an open fireplace, an antique backgammon table, artworks and classic furniture, all handpicked from major auction houses and flea markets by the Prince of Luxembourg.
A table at Le Clarence in Paris
The owner, Prince Robert of Luxembourg, acquired the property by vente à la bougie, an auction unique to France originating in the 15th century. A great lover of wine, he also owns wine-producing Chateaux Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion and Quintus, which come together under the Domaine Clarence Dillon, named after the prince’s great-grandfather, a Texan banker, who acquired Haut-Brion in 1935.
From left to right, Mr. Antoine Petrus, restaurant manager and head sommelier, Mr Christophe Pele, managing director and executive chef, with Prince Robert of Luxembourg at Le Clarence restaurant in Paris
The 1st-floor restaurant’s three traditional, individually-decorated rooms are named after the former owners of Haut-Brion. Outside the dining room and the private salon, two elegant handcrafted wooden consoles containing Haut-Brion’s best vintages, designed by Prince Robert and London-based furniture maker David Linley, commemorate the 75th anniversary of Clarence Dillon’s purchase of the winery.
An engraving of Hotel Dillon in Paris, dated 1884
Gourmet lunches and dinners are served from Tuesday to Saturday. Wearing whites in the state-of-the-art kitchens, which overlook a pretty interior courtyard where cocktails are served in warm weather, is chef Christophe Pelé whose bistro Le Bigarrade in Paris, which closed in 2012, won him two Michelin stars.
Sommelier and restaurant director Antoine Petrus, a gifted Meilleur Ouvrier de France formerly at Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, Lasserre, and Hôtel de Crillon, has one of the most exceptional wine lists in the world ranging from €30 to €4,500 a bottle.
Salon Pontac at Le Clarence
Below the stairs, in the atmospheric showpiece stone wine cellar with tasting tables and decanting areas, Damien de Gironde, director of the cave, conducts tastings and advises on buying. And 2015, he says, will be an excellent year.
“In 2015, to mark the 80th anniversary of the creation of Domaine Clarence Dillon, we followed in the footsteps of the Pontac family, former owners of Haut-Brion,” explains Prince Robert. “In 1666, François-Auguste Pontac travelled to London to promote his wine and opened Pontack’s Head on Abchurch Lane, also showcasing French cuisine. It became very fashionable and Fellows of the Royal Society like John Locke and Daniel Defoe were regular patrons. We aim to continue this tradition by inviting guests to eat, taste our wines and even leave with a bottle of exception," the Prince adds.