• 1838:The Spanish Countess de Montijo and her daughter Eugenie spend their vacation in the small town of Biarritz.
• 1854: Construction of Villa Eugenie, summer home for the French Emperor Napoleon III and Emperess Eugenie. Napoléon III likes the location at the foot of the Pyrénees with a view over Spain, so that his wife should not become homesick of her native country. The initial architect is Hippolyte Durand.
• 1854: The imperial couple Napoleon III and Eugénie have many projects to enhance the beauty of Paris. In their mind some of these projects come alive in Biarritz, in particular the creation of the "Halles Centrales de Paris". With great interest Napoleon III also follows and finances the creation of the Biarritz foodmarket, "Halles de Biarritz". Both Paris and Biarritz have a street called "Rue des Halles". The website Grand Hotels of the World is edited from the rue des Halles in Paris, another Second Empire project.
• 1855: june
The initial he architect is replaced by Louis-Auguste Couvrechef (1827 - 1858), only 27 years old. The architect is again replaced by Gabriel Auguste Ancelet (1829-1895).
• 1855: Grand opening of the Villa Eugenie. Napoleon III gives many hi profile receptions.
For over a decade the Emperor and the Empress stay every month of september in Biarritz.
• 1858: Portrait of the Emperess with view on the grande plage de Biarritz.
• 1859: The last details on the construction of the Villa Eugenie are completed.
• 1871: End of the Second Empire. Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie exile in the United Kingdom.
• 1873: Empress Eugenie inherits the Villa on the death of Napoleon III.
• 1880: The Empress sells the Hotel to the Banque de l’Union Parisienne. Villa Eugenie becomes the Palais Biarritz, a Casino Hotel.
• 1880s: Construction of a multitude of Fairy Tale Villas in Biarritz, the most famous beeing the Villa Belza, the Villa La Roseraie, Villa des Acanthes, Villa Mouriscot, Villa Marbella, Villa des Trois Fontaines and the Villa les Vagues.
• 1889: Queen Victoria comes to Biarritz.
• 1893: The Palace is renamed Hôtel du Palais and opens as a Palace Hotel. Many Kings and Queens are among the guests.
• 1896: Emperess Sissi of Austria comes to the Hotel du Palais. She uses the name "Comtesse de Hohenembs". She gets up every marning at 5 am and uses to walk around the Hotel. The Empress returns to the Palais in 1897.
• 1903 February 1: A fire destroys the Hotel.
• 1903-1905: Reconstruction of the Hotel. The architect is Édouard-Jean Niermans. The former walls of the Villa Eugenie are repaced by a Louis XIII style. The letter « E » is added as a symbol, in reference to the Empress Eugenie, the last Queen of France. The salon imperial and the Retonde are added.
• 1905: Inauguration of the new Hotel du Palais. The Hotel du Palais vecomes a favorite destination for European Royalty.
• 1906-1910: King Edward VII goes there for 5 years. He gets the nickname "King of Biarritz and Greta Britain". In 1908 Lord Ashquish, a new British Prime Minister has to come to the Hotel du Palais to be appointed for his new political functions.
• 1910: Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia comes to the Palais. He is younger brother of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia who financed the construction of the "Hotel Carlton" in Cannes and an uncle of Tsar Nicolas II.
• 1915: Coco Chanel opens a Couture Salon on 2 avenue Edouard VII not far from the Hotel du Palais.
• 1920s: Biarritz is very fashionable and known as « queen of resorts and resort of Kings ».
Coco Chanel meets the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovitch Romanov, a direct cousin of Tsar Nicolas II of Russia. He later helps Chanel to create the Parfume Chanel No 5 by connecting her to an exiled French Russian perfumer.
• 1922: Bal of Second Empire given by King Alphonse III of Spain.
• 1927: Bal Verbena del Amour
• 1929: According to Guy de Rotschild, the "Grande Plage de Biarritz" is like a fashion gathering.
The following year following the 1929, october stock market crash, it is deserted. The following summer 1930 Guy de Rothschild and his mother have the entire beach all to themselves.
• 1938: Aimée de Heeren, just arrived in Paris from her native country Brazil discovers Biarritz with her friend Coco Chanel.
• 1946: Aimée de Heeren returns to France after the war. She settles in Paris and at the Villa la Roseraie in Biarritz. Soon she is considered to be the new "Queen of Biarritz".
• 1950: Closing of the Hotel.
• 1951: October: The city of Biarritz is badly affected by heavy water floods leaving their impact on the cities Hotel Industry.
• 1953: Septembre 10 Bal of the Marquis de Cuevas.
All the international hi sociéty of that times is présent, about 2.000 people. There are no more Grand Hotels.
• 1954: To save the Hotel the city of Biarritz decides to buy it. The Hotel du Palais is one of the last Grand Hotels dating from the cities glorious past.
Other Grand Hotels of Biarritz were the Hotel Carlton (built by Henri Ruhl), le Victoria, l'Hôtel d'Angleterre, l'Hotel de Russie, l'Hôtel de l'Europe ou le Chateau des Falaises are also closed - some were transformed into apartment buildings.
• 1954: After Renovation of the Hotel opening of the California Style outdoor swimming pool.
• 1962 January 1: Foundation of Socomix, a company in charge of the Management of the Hotel, partly owned by the city of Biarritz.
• 1963: Jean Louis Lembacher arrives at the Hotel as receptionist.
• 1960s-2000s: Begogna Angulo, a very original Lady from San Sebastian helps with the promotion of the Hotel du Palais. Very well connected to Hi sociéty, she attracts many hi profile guests to come to the Hotel du Palais. In exchange she can sometimes stay at the Hotel for free.
• 1985: Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis stays with Aimée de Heeren at the Villa La Roseraie. He comes to the Hotel du Palais for a lunch organized by Begogna Angulo. Thurn und Taxis owned the Pearl Tiara by Alexandre Gabriel Lemonnier. The tiara once blonged to Emperess Eugenie and was a masterpiece of the French Crown jewels. The tiara can be seen in the portrait of Emperess Eugenie (see 1854). Through his great grandmother Helene von Thurn und Taxis, Johannes was a great nephew of Empress Sissi of Austria (see 1896)
• 1987: The impoverished Countess of Paris, once the richest and snobbiest woman of France, sells books at the Palais Swimming pool.
• 1991: Hotel du Palais decides to open all year. Jean Louis Leimbacher becomes the director of the Hotel. Didier Borota from the city of Biarritz pushes investments to attract clients to come all year round.
• 1993 August 21: Ira von Fuerstenberg organizes the Windsor Ball. The are more photographers than guests.
• 1993 December 24: Hotel du Palais gets listed as a Monument Historique / Historic Munument.
• 1999: Duchess Rixa von Oldenburg organizes the very spectecular Bal of the Summer. Duchess Rixa is probably the most historic of all lof today's Duchesses / Princesses. Through her mother, the Princess of Prussia she descends directly from Queen Victoria. Her great grandmother was the sister of King Edward VII of Great Britain. Through her father she is a great grandchild of the Tsars of Russia related to all of the Russian Grand Dukes in the Palais history. The young Duchess organises Red Cross Charity galas and many other events.
• 2001 May: Fairy Tale wedding of John Wanamaker Leas and Susan Hussey.
• 2002: Begognia Angulo spends evey summer in Biarritz, mostly living at the Villa La Roseraie.
Every morning at around 10.30 am she drives down to the Palais. Her walk around the Palais outdoor pool takes about 2 hours exchanging the "latest fesh gossip" from one capagna to another. Her stories are always full of errors and massive exageration but they are captivating and always contain a bit of truth ... so season after season they fascinate the Biarritz society. Incountable "dramas" were the result.
• 2006: Opening of a 3000m2 Spa (the largest Spa in France) for 10 million Euros.
• 2011 Mai 5: Hotel du Palais receives the new official Label « Palace ***** » given by the French Ministy of Tourism to describe a new elite categorie of 5 Star Hotels in France. Unlike Hotel du Palais not every French « Palace » is part of « Palace Hotels of the World.com» , as some do not have enough historic background to be listed.
• 2013 January: Hotel du Palais becomes part of Orient Express with a special status of beeing the very first Orient-Express Associate Hotels (a Hotel which is not owned by Orient Express).
• 2014 March 10: The « Orient Express » Hotels brand is rebaptised « Belmond ».
• 2015 Fevrier 10: Jean Louis Leimbacher retires.
Jean Luc Cousty becomes the new director of the hotel.
Article by « Grand Hotels of the World & VB.com », written from « Cremerie de Paris ».
Management & Ownership
• Management: Hotel du Palais, Belmond (Orient Express Hotels).
• Ownership: Socomix (64% city of Biarritz, also city of Bayonne, société du Louvre, société hotelière Lutetia).