Parisian swingers' favourite haunt in peril

Exclusive club – said to be beloved of Strauss-Kahn – under investigation over call-girl allegations

Paris

Wealthy Parisian couples looking forward to an elegant, expensive and naughty New Year's Eve – €620 for caviar, lobster and wife-swapping – may have to think again. Les Chandelles, the most exclusive of the wife-swapping clubs in the French capital, is under investigation for allegedly allowing prostitutes to operate on its premises.

The city's police chief must decide in the next couple of days whether to permit the club's New Year's Eve party, entitled "a thousand and one follies", to go ahead.

Les Chandelles - or the candles - has a reputation as the most snobbish "boite echangiste" or wife-swapping club in Paris. To be admitted to the glittering premises in the heart of the city between the Opera and the Louvre, you have to be wealthy, famous or good-looking and preferably all three.

Clients are reported to have included the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and other members of the political and media elite.

The restaurant and bar have the elegant look, and quality, of a five-star hotel. Guests who wish to do so can move on to the "libertine" activities - partner-swapping or group sex - in the lounge and private rooms next door.

It is now alleged that some of the female "guests" at Les Chandelles are not what they appear. An investigation by the Paris vice squad has concluded that the club is a haunt of high-class prostitutes. Three people, including a former professional footballer, Alim Ben Mabrouk, 51, have been placed under formal investigation on allegations of "highly organised pimping".

A police report completed this week recommends that the club should be shut down, at least temporarily. Its proprietor, 44 year-old Valérie Hervo, known as "Madame Valérie", has been questioned by police but she is not among those who face charges at this stage. "I have nothing to say, only that my establishment has nothing to do with this affair," she told the French magazine VSD.

Wife-swapping clubs have become an accepted part of Parisian night-life in the last 30 years. Over 50 establishments are listed in entertainment guides. Les Chandelles is among the oldest and by far the most exclusive.

The club’s web-site says that it offers “all the refinements of sensuality, gentle, tender, playful and intense”. Female guests, the site claims, are “sublime, glamorous and unsettling beauties of the night”. They are accompanied by “irresistible princes, both gentlemanly and sexy”.

Guests must be well-dressed, even if they do not plan to remain dressed for very long. “Les Chandelles despises flat shoes, trainers and sportswear,” the site warns. “Also short-sleeved shirts and white socks.”

 “Above all, Les Chandelles does not have any time for vulgarity, lack of respect or small-mindedness,” the site says. In practice, this is said to mean that the non-rich, non-famous and not-especially good-looking need not apply for entry.

Although single men and women are admitted to some events, the club is mostly reserved for couples. A lengthy police investigation concluded, however, that some of the apparent couples were not what they seemed. Le Monde quoted one police officer as asking: “How could the club not have known that it was being frequented by prostitutes?”

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution