Paris's landmark luxury hotel Le Lutetia, whose guests included Pablo Picasso, Charles de Gaulle and James Joyce, closes tomorrow for a three-year renovation following similar makeover moves by rivals.
The seven-storey Art Deco hotel built in 1910 follows in the footsteps of the Crillon, Ritz and Plaza Athenee, which have all closed for extensive revamps.
The hotel in the heart of the city's chic Saint-Germain-des-Pres district was taken over by German officers occupying Paris in World War II.
French wartime hero De Gaulle, who later became president, spent his wedding night here. The establishment also attracted literary luminaries such as Andre Gide and Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of "The Little Prince."
"Le Lutetia has always been a beacon of the Left Bank," said author Pierre Assouline, who has used the hotel as a setting for one of his novels.
French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte will oversee the renovations.
Ahead of the closure, the hotel sold about 100 works of art and 8,000 bottles of wine and alcoholic drinks in a February auction.
The hotel was bought by the Israeli real estate group, Alrov in 2010.
It courted unwelcome publicity in November when a couple – both aged 86 – committed suicide in one of its rooms and left a typewritten note claiming "the right to die with dignity."
Bernard and Georgette Cazes also asked their sole surviving son to campaign for the right to euthanasia in France after their death. – AFP, April 13, 2014