Hotel de la Paiva and Esther Lachmann
The Hotel de la Paiva is one of these elegant mansions that line the prestigious Avenue des Champs-Elysées.
The best artists of the mid 19th century built and decorated it for the daughter of a humble Polish Jewish tailor.
Esther Lachmann became one of the most prominent courtesans of Paris after marrying the wealthy Prussian Count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck.
However, her dazzling social ambitions were no longer compatible with a commoner’s name!
Esther therefore chose a new identity with hints of nobility… thus appeared La Paiva!
Her parties were famous and attracted the Parisian smart set.
La Paiva entertained countless personalities of the Second Empire, politicians, artists, writers and entrepreneurs.
Among those were the Goncourt brothers, the writer Théophile Gautier or Léon Gambetta who was Prime Minister from 1881 to 1882.
The Italian Renaissance Hotel de la Paiva
La Paiva spent lavishly for the decoration of her Italian Renaissance style mansion.
The most lavish architectural features are probably the yellow onyx staircase and the elaborate painted ceilings.
She also built a Moorish style bathroom and bought large collections of canvases and furniture…
A riot of ostentatious luxury.
She obviously made up for the lack of resources she had suffered as a child.
However, nothing lasts.
In 1877 La Paiva aka Esther Lehmann and her husband escaped to Silesia after she was accused of spying during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/71.
She died in 1884 without being able to return to the palace of her dreams.
Her mansion is still there, so are her initials on the wrought iron gate and the double entrance which once allowed carriages to exit without having to turn around.
The superb Hotel de la Paiva is now a restaurant.
Directions: 8th district – no25 Avenue des Champs-Elysées
Metro: Franklin D. Roosevelt on Line 1
Coordinates: Lat 48.869334 – Long 2.307998