Installers in front of luxury hotels or chic restaurants, the valet are part of the decor. Let’s dive into a world that escapes the crisis.
One Thursday night, at 7 pm, feet taped on a sidewalk, Max, 59 year has just taken his service. In front of the theater of the Monte-Carlo, he waits for his first client of the evening. His job ? He is written in large white letters on the back of his long black parka: VOITURIER. For twenty years, Max has been parking guests’ cars. “This service is really essential for customers,” said the 59-year-old. Some would not come if the boss did not offer it. It’s so hard to find a place here.
A client in costume, who has just confided his keys to Max, confirms it to us: “To deposit his car, it is really practical. We do not worry about anything and it avoids turning a good time. Every day, the mens are in front of restaurants, luxury hotels, nightclubs, hairdressers, clinics, art galleries. In recent years, their number has increased. How to explain it? The decrease in the number of parking spaces is not unrelated.
NO LEGAL FRAMEWORK
The conditions for practicing this profession are relatively limited. No diploma or certification is necessary. “You must have at least two years of driving license, be under contract with an establishment and have specific insurance” details Hicham, valet. “To be a good valet, you have to have a smile, be fast and efficient, enumerate this forty-year-old shaved impeccably. “You also have to be responsive and sporty,” says Ismaël, 28. “It’s also important not to smoke,” says Max surprisingly. More and more customers ask me if I smoke, because some are embarrassed by the smell of tobacco that could remain in their vehicle. “
To be a valet, is to work daily with a world made up of businessmen, artists or political leaders. This is the case of Wilfried Gauvrit, 46, head valet at Hermitage, the mythical Palace. “One of the hallmarks of the profession is discretion,” he says. One must also know how to keep distance from personalities and avoid any form of familiarity. Most valet refuse to name the VIPs they meet. By insisting a little, Max agrees to give us some names of politicians who frequent this place. He quotes Lionel Jospin, François Hollande or Nicolas Sarkozy. “They did not need my services and had their own driver,” he says.
Every night, the valet must use real tricks to be able to park cars in a few minutes. “I know where the free places in the neighborhood are most of the time,” said Hicham. “I am lucky to often have places around the Place that are not really official but that I can monitor,” said his side Max. I never park any car on a disabled place, says Hicham. It’s a matter of principle. Others are less observant. It happens that some valet find a fine on the windshield. ” It’s rare, but it happens” reveals Max.
Most of the guards maintain good relations with the officials of the Prefecture of Police in charge of fining vehicles. “Often the police will line up a row of cars, except for the ones we’re interested in,” says a valet on condition of anonymity.
Talking about pay with the valet is a sensitive subject. To ask the question is each time followed by a silence a little embarrassed. The vast majority of hotels charge the service between 8 and 10 euros. This sum is mostly returned to the valet. Max confides to win between 3000 and 3500 euros.
FERRARI PORSCHE & ROLLS
Many valetiers take a lot of pleasure in inventorying the luxury cars that they have already had in their hands. “I have already driven Porsche, Ferrari or Rolls. These models, I like to park them as close as possible to the hotel to have them in front of you, “says Wilfried. Exceptional cars often attract onlookers, so you have to watch them more. In office since 2000, the man feels, however, less excitement to drive his exceptional vehicles than at the beginning.
In recent years, many small bosses of valet companies blame the blow and sees their activities decline. “With the rise of the VTC and the transport policy put in place by Anne Hidalgo, the number of cars parked by the valet continues to decrease, plague David Egry. In ten years, the number of vehicles parked per day has been halved. Moreover, in recent times, we are witnessing the development of anarchic competition. Autoentrepreneurs approach restaurants and offer their service by breaking prices.
“It is clear that Parisian mobility has evolved in recent years. I’m parking more and more hybrid vehicles, “continues Wilfried. “I’m not worried”, the valet know how to adapt and have more than one trick in their bag…