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Patrick Roberts

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Working Felines: Hotel Cats 4

Carmen of the Hotel Negresco, Nice
Fa-Raon and Kléopatre of the Hotel le Bristol, Paris

Three French luxury-hotel cats

Trois chats d'hôtels de luxe français


Hotel Negresco
Nice, France

Carmen the cat of the Hotel Negresco, Nice, France

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Hotel Negresco, Nice, France The Negresco, situated overlooking the Mediterranean on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, south of France, was opened in 1913 and still boasts a beautiful pink dome designed by Alexandre Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame. The establishment has had its ups and downs over the years, but is now regarded as one of the world's leading hotels and was declared a national monument in 1974. And it had resident cats!

Poussy, resident cat at the Hotel Negresco, Nice, France, till 2000 Poussy, late of the Hotel Negresco, Nice There was an earlier cat called Poussy (right), a large male ginger-and-white cat who apparently wandered in one day and decided to stay. He died in 2000 at the age of about 16, after a number of years at the hotel among distinguished guests, stars and even crowned heads of state. There was a book written about him in France (site is in French), and we believe he also featured in a movie. The book, rather than being just an account of Poussy himself, is a fictional tale recounting how, with his superior sensory abilities, he was able to detect and thwart a major jewel heist at the hotel and bring the thief to justice!

Carmen the cat of the Hotel Negresco, Nice, France More recently there was Carmen, who went to the hotel in about 2003 or 2004 and was also a red tabby, but unusually for this coat colour was a female. She had a bad start in life. A truck driver, Monsieur Dufay, was in a village one day when he noticed some young people in a field with a gun. As he went to investigate, they ran off; they had been shooting at cats. A mother cat and two of her kittens were dead, but one was still alive. M. Dufay went to catch her, but she was understandably frightened and jumped up onto some rocks. Eventually he was able to reach her and take her home. No doubt as a result of her experiences, she liked to be somewhere high up, and would often make hair-raising trips along balcony rails. The Dufays were worried that she would fall, and so when they heard Mme Augier of the Hotel Negresco was looking for a cat to take Poussy's place, they decided to offer Carmen.
[ Image source: our thanks to uyynnig at Flickr ]

She quickly became used to the hotel; most of her time was spent near the bar, or on the main staircase where she could be greeted by guests, and in the early mornings she liked to supervise activities in the lobby. A favourite sleeping spot was on top of a display case, where there was a lamp that kept it comfortably warm; but if she chose to sleep on a chair, hotel guests have to find somewhere else to sit! Occasionally she ventured outside onto the terrace to take the sea air. She had been known to spend the night in the bedroom of a guest whose caresses she deigned to accept.

Hotel Negresco cat Carmen, Nice, France Carmen didn't care for left-overs from the Negresco's starred restaurant, but preferred the cat food the barman served her each morning and evening behind the bar. Sometimes, though, she'd make for the hotel switchboard, where she knew a little cache of treats was kept for her. Mme Augier, octogenarian owner of the hotel she inherited from her father, despite her busy schedule always found a few minutes every day to spend with the cat.

But Carmen had many other fans; people liked to have their photo taken with her, and some guests returned each year to see her. Not only that: she received fan mail, and quite often postcards arrived addressed to her! (see picture). If you didn't like cats, that was too bad; one guest who hated cats booked a suite and wanted Carmen kept confined away from her, but Mme Augier refused, saying it was Carmen´┐Żs home — so the guest left! And just to endorse her fame, and because she was often at the bar, the hotel created a cocktail called 'Le Carmen'.

In mid-2019 an enquiry informed us that sadly Carmen had died, and there are no longer any cats at the hotel.

Fa-Raon and Kléopatre of Paris

Fa-Raon, resident cat of the Hotel le Bristol, Paris, France Fa-Raon of the Hotel le Bristol, Paris

A beautiful, blue-eyed white Birman cat Fa-Raon (the French for 'pharaoh' is 'pharaon'), born in May 2010, took up the position of chief meeter and greeter at the exclusive five-star Hotel le Bristol in Paris, France, where as resident feline he generally oversees things. He rubs shoulders — or exchanges head-butts — with guests, who have included celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Leonardo di Caprio when they were in town. Occasionally he might meet selected guests at the airport in the hotel's Smart Car. He features on the hotel's website, described as intelligent and affectionate, and as 'living in harmony with the hotel, playing in the lobby, wandering through the French-style gardens and purring with pleasure at attention and strokes from guests and staff.' Not surprisingly, he's a great favourite with children. After a busy day's duties are completed, his favoured relaxation spot is at the concierge's desk. 'C'est une bonne vie,' he purrs contentedly — 'It's a good life.'

Kleopatre, resident cat of the Hotel le Bristol, Paris, France Kleopatre of the Hotel le Bristol, Paris From the end of July 2014 he had a feline companion, a white female Birman named Kléopatre (right). She was playful, affectionate — and beautiful. The two of them enjoyed each other's company, but for reasons we haven't been able to establish, Kléopatre was later moved from Le Bristol to a sister hotel in Germany, the Brenners Park Hotel in Baden-Baden, a spa town near the Black Forest. She settled in well, and when not on patrol or enjoying cuddles from guests, she liked to relax by the fireplace, or in one of the hidey-holes she discovered, such as the office storage space!

In late 2019 Fa-Raon was still in charge at Le Bristol and there are a few images of him at the hotel website, with more at the Facebook page. An archived copy of a page from a former website (early 2017) shows both Fa-Raon and Kléopatre.

Fa-Raon and Kleopatre, resident cats at the Hotel le Bristol in Paris

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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.

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