©Fok Kan

Everyone knows, at least by name, the Bains-douches, the famous nightclub on rue du Bourg-l'Abbé (between Beaubourg and boulevard Sébastopol). But who knows the history of real shower baths?

It all began in 1885 when the Guerbois family built a beautiful building, at number 7 of the street, with a remarkable porch framed by two torchiere nymphs. The Guerbois are not just anyone. This family actually owns the trendiest café of the time, Café Guerbois, at 9, avenue de Clichy. It is, among others, the headquarters of Zola and his impressionist friends: Manet, Renoir, Monet, Degas, Pissarro, Sisley, Cézanne. Their fortune made, the bistro owners opened the Bains-Guerbois, a real high-end spa, equipped with Japanese (sulphurous water), Turkish (steam) and Russian (kind of sauna) baths, but also a massage parlor, a barber, hair salon and restaurant.

The reputation of Bains Guerbois is immense. Marcel Proust is a regular. The place was popular with the gay community at the time. The “forts des halles”, or handlers, also come to shower here, then drink a calva coffee after their work. The destruction of the Baltard halls and the widespread use of bathrooms in Parisian apartments “killed” the bath-shower business in the early 1970s.

Facade of the Baths – ©Les Bains Paris

In 1978, the first rebirth: the new owner Maurice Marois, a professor of medicine, was convinced to transform the place into a nightclub. Bingo! With the Palace, Les Bains Douches became the most popular nightclub in Paris. It's the French version of Studio 54, the New York club born a few months earlier. Led in turn by the duos Jacques Renault and Fabrice Coat, then Hubert Boukobza and Claude Challe and finally Cathy and David Guetta, we meet Jean-Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Loulou de Falaise, Rita Mitsouko, Mick Jagger, Grace Jones , Robert de Niro, Naomi Campbell, Carla Bruni, Kate Moss, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol. The decor is by Philippe Starck.

Boy George and Jean-Paul Gaultier – ©Foc Kan

Karl Lagerfeld at the Bains club – ©Foc Kan

The golden age of the “Bains” ended around the turn of the century but the nightclub did not close definitively until 2010. In 2015, the Bains Douches, completely renovated, were resurrected again, this time under the in the form of a five-star boutique hotel, thanks to Jean-Pierre Marois, the son of the professor of medicine. The restaurant, the club and the bar were also reborn. With 39 rooms or suites, the establishment has an undeniable charm with its Château Marmont-style decor (in Los Angeles) and its restaurant with a red lacquer sky.

The ROXO bar – ©Anaïs Costet

In addition, the Bains now host artist residencies, exhibitions, etc. All in collaboration with prestigious galleries: Gagossian, Templon, Jérôme Pauchant. The next event, “Les Simonnet s’installnt aux Bains” will be dedicated to the very inventive couple Jean-Marie and Marthe Simonnet, specialized in works in reinforced plastic. The curatorship of the exhibition was entrusted to Marshian Gilbert Kann. From April 2, 2019.

Les Bains Paris
7 rue du Bourg l'Abbé, 75003 Paris
Tel: +01 42 77 07 07 XNUMX

Text: Katia Barillot

Update: 25.01.21


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