…or how we got to know the owner of the hotel from the 1940s! Madame Moncelli, the current owner of the hotel tell us the pretty incredible story.
In the 1990s, we met Nicole Kennedy, the daughter of Madame Marguerite Andrée Nègre Souquet-Basiege who was the owner of the Hôtel des Grands Hommes for ten year, from 1947 to 1957. Although Nicole never owned the hotel, she did work there often to help her mother.
It’s thanks to Nicole that we know some of the history of the Grands Hommes, and she has become a dear friend.
Nicole went to live in the USA after the death of her mother (in the 1950s), following a man she had met at the Hôtel des Grands Hommes. He was to become her husband, and her new life as a young woman commenced.
Talking of her mother, Nicole says she was a philanthropist who helped young people who had talent but often little money. For her, the hotel was an international place, and each evening a couple of cooks would prepare dinner for everyone, during which fascinating, passionate discussions would take place.
People often danced in the salon, and music was omnipresent.
Nicole says that the place was always alive and welcoming, and that she was happy to meet and talk to exotic, intelligent guests from around the world in French, English or Spanish…
From this tumultuous period after the war, Nicole has left us two precious guestbooks covering the ten years her mother ran the hotel. We’ll be sharing text and drawings from them over the coming year, some of them happy or nostalgic, often moving and showing the enthusiasm and gratitude of the guests to their host.
It almost like the TripAdvisor of its era – more modest, but a lot more eloquent!
(click the fullscreen button to see better)
The first page reads:
When I came to Paris, on 11th July 1947, I felt completely disorientated, but after having spent this month with the Jacquet-Basiège family, I had the proof of that little something whose source escapes me:
Leaving is to die a little
It is leaving a part of oneself
In every thing
And every place
We hope you’ll enjoy these guest comments as much as us. They are pieces of history, examples of the identity of the Latin Quarter and the generosity of that great woman Madame Marguerite Souquet-Basiege, to whom we pay homage today.
We would like to thank our friend Nicole and her son Raoul for their friendship and for the gift of these two books that are now back in their home. We will keep them forever within the walls of the Grands Hommes.
More pages from the guestbook coming soon!