- Written by Andrea Gross Andrea Gross
Aha! There it is, the Eiffel Tower. Around the corner, the Arc de Triomphe. And right nearby, a row of quaint shops on a cobblestoned street. Voilà, this is Paris, n’est-ce pas?
Actually, it’s Paris Las Vegas, a French-themed hotel and casino that’s done a remarkable job of bringing the famous landmarks of the governmental capital of France to the entertainment capital of the United States.
Although at first it’s a bit disconcerting to see Parisian landmarks sitting amidst the high-rise hotels and brightly lit casinos, it’s also très magnifique.
The architects and designers responsible for creating the Paris Las Vegas Hotel, which opened in 1999, went to great lengths to make sure that the famous landmarks were reproduced as accurately as possible.
Their greatest coup was securing the original plans that Gustav Eiffel used to build his monument for the Paris Exposition in 1889. The Las Vegas tower is an almost-exact half-scale replica, soaring 460 feet (more than 40 stories) into the desert sky.
The major difference, aside from size, has to do with safety. Rather than joining beams with rivets as in the original, modern builders felt that welding would produce a stronger structure. Then, to ensure an authentic look, they overlaid the welding with cosmetic rivets.
The concern for accuracy even extended to the lighting system. In 1989, 100 years after the original tower was built, lights were added to brighten the Paris sky. Ten years later the same experts were hired to install the lights in the Las Vegas reproduction.
The Eiffel Tower is the first sign of Paris that visitors to Las Vegas see when they drive up the famous Strip, but it’s far from the only one. People who are arriving at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel drive around a 2/3-scale replica of the Arc de Triomphe, a Parisian landmark honoring the soldiers who fought with Napoleon.
Some parts of the hotel have facades that echo renowned buildings in Paris. One wall looks like the Paris Opera House, and the outside of the 34-story hotel itself was designed to look like Paris’s 800-year-old Hôtel de Ville, which now serves as Paris’ city hall.
The Parisian theme carries to the inside, where touches of France adorn the casino, lobby, and, most of all, the shopping promenade. The retail area, which is completely indoors, has “cobblestoned” streets, wrought-iron streetlamps, and shops fashioned to look distinctly European, with flowerboxes and balustrades.
As with the architecture, the hotel’s restaurants pride themselves on authenticity. Many are devoted to French food of one sort or another — from crusty baguettes and delicate crepes to foie gras and le filet de bœuf.
Mon Ami Gabi is an upscale café where people can eat outside and watch folks stroll up and down the Strip, except that the bow-tied waiters don’t call it “the Strip.” They call it “the Champs-Élysées.”
Here, diners can start with wild escargots or onion soup au gratin, move on to chicken grand-mère, and finish up with a vanilla bean crème brûlée — if, that is, they don’t get sidetracked by some of the 80-plus boutique wine offerings.
But it’s the Eiffel Tower restaurant, on the 11th floor of the tower, that is the epitome of Parisian elegance.
The prices are nearly as stratospheric as the view, but no one seems to care. After all, this is a restaurant that’s often dubbed one of the most romantic in the country, and what is more French than romance? (Tip: Those who are more pragmatic than romantic can opt to go for brunch or, better yet, go for a tasting.)
The Village Buffet takes diners to the provinces outside of Paris to experience the sights and tastes of the countryside. The restaurant has six sections, each of which replicates the architecture and design of a specific province.
Likewise, there are a variety of cooking stations that feature the foods and cooking styles of each region. Guests, who are welcome to gorge themselves with food from all of the provinces, can have crêpes à la Brittany, seafood from Normandy, meats from Burgundy, croissants from Alsace, and beverages from Bretagne. (Tip: The buffet isn’t cheap, so go when you’re hungry.)
Finally, almost hidden in a corner on the hotel’s north side, Le Cabaret offers an ooh-là-là experience during which folks make merry as they sip cocktails and listen to live music.
Now what could be more French than that?