Qatari prince ordered to suspend Paris palace work
By Elizabeth Pineau
PARIS (Reuters Life!) - A French judge ordered a Qatari prince on Tuesday to suspend some modernization work on a 17th century palace in central Paris pending a decision on objections to the plans by conservationists.
The plans to add modern comforts to the Hotel Lambert, which once belonged to the Rothschild banking dynasty and where Chopin and Voltaire both stayed, have roused fears among associations for the protection of historic Paris that they will irreparably mar a listed national monument.
The Paris administrative court judge suspended authorization to carry out the work, which had been granted by the culture ministry in June until a full decision can be reached.
The judgment said the plans as presented did not contain a sufficiently complete assessment of the work and did not allow a full appreciation of the likely consequences.
Eric Ginter, a lawyer for the owner said he was "surprised" by the ruling but the conservation group that mounted the court challenge hailed the decision.
Located on the Ile Saint Louis in the heart of old Paris, the Hotel Lambert, with its magnificent ceiling paintings and its distinctive curved gallery is considered among the finest structures of its period.
The brother of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, emir of Qatar, acquired the building in 2007 for between 60 and 80 million euros ($86-$115 million), according to French media.
His planned renovations include an underground car park beneath the building's paved courtyard, an elevator and new bathrooms in the living quarters. Continued...