STAY – EAT – EXPLORE
Paris is a city of incomparable beauty and history, shaped by a tumultuous and glorious past reflected in its boulevards, palaces and the savoir-faire attitude of its inhabitants. Whether as a centre of education and culture, or the epicentre of fashion and gourmet decadence, Paris has something for everyone. The Luxury Channel (with a little help from the travel gurus at Parnassus Luxury Travel) explores the myriad of possibilities and reveals their essential high-end city guide to Paris:
WHERE TO STAY
Mandarin Oriental, Paris
You can’t beat the level of service (the staff are utterly charming) and the hotel’s exceptional city centre location. A relative newcomer to the scene, The Mandarin Oriental, Paris, opened its impressive and monumental doors in 2011. The hotel is located behind the Tuileries Gardens, on the fashionable Rue Saint-Honoré. A nod from the liveried doormen and you are beckoned through the dark marbled lobby into the light greenery of the central inner courtyard. A butterfly motif (that informs design throughout the hotel) weaves its way through the delicate trees and sculptures in the garden, creating intimate and inviting corners for guests to enjoy Bellinis or perhaps a cake from the Mandarin’s very own patisserie. It’s a real oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the city and it’s this that gives the hotel such a special and intimate quality.
The rooms (with courtyard views) are some of the biggest in Paris with an elegant art deco theme, such as Man Ray prints on the walls and sumptuous velvet fabrics, as their interior inspiration. However, the magic is in the details – Frette sheets, Diptyque candles, Bang & Olufsen TVs and an iPad for every room that serve to make each room homely and spoiling. The spa area provides a perfect sanctuary, with a 15m pool surrounded by mosaics and a butterfly projection.
The cuisine is haute and seriously yummy – the restaurants, Camelia and Sur Mesure (the latter being the more formal of the two), are curated by two Michelin starred chef, Thierry Marx, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce and a little bit of showmanship’s magic!
Address: 251 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, France
WHERE TO EAT (and stay, but we only reviewed the food….)
Le Cinq at the George V, Paris
This two Michelin starred restaurant, run by head chef Eric Briffard, is set in an intimate room, rich in sumptuous Flemish tapestries, two beautiful Louis XIV wardrobes and gold gilt chairs. It makes for a powerful scene of good old-fashioned luxury that includes starched white linens juxtaposed with some remarkable flower arranging by the hotel’s talented and famous creative director, Jeff Leatham.
Le Cinq’s food is just as remarkable as said flowers – it is a restaurant known for serving brave and creative gourmet food that delights all the senses. Briffard’s seasonal menu is based on authentic French cuisine with a focus on fresh local produce. Explore the five-course taster menu under the supervision of the restaurant’s director, Eric Beaumard. Click here to see their current menu.
It’s all just so appetizing….and let’s not forget the exquisite wine and champagnes selected by Thierry Hamon, with dedicated precision and balanced proportion.
However, the most surprising aspect of dining in such salubrious surroundings is just how much fun it is! There is a real sense of playfulness with each and every dish; they are mini events that make you take stock of the aroma and feel the anticipation of that first tantalising bite. This is about eating to feel alive, sensual and fulfilled, making it our absolute number one recommendation for anniversary, proposal, third date bookings….
The Découverte Gourmande menu is priced at €260 for dinner.
Top Tip: Contact Parnassus Travel to create bespoke itineraries at the George V, including a private flower-arranging class with visionary creative Jeff Leatham.
For Afternoon Tea
Owned by the Oetker family, Le Bristol, Paris was bought by Rudolph Oetker as a wedding present for his wife in the 1970s. With its creamy marble interiors, floral hues and tressalled garden, the interior and exterior hold true to this romantic gesture. It is a majestic wedding cake of a building – an institution, romantic and delicious. As such, special attention is paid to the food with Michelin starred meals available in the hotel’s signature restaurant, Epicure, or at the lounge restaurant for Le Bristol’s high tea.
As you would expect, afternoon tea at Le Bristol is an elegant affair. The waiters are very welcoming but etiquette and style is VIP as the lounge is very much ‘‘on show.’’ And why not?! This is a wonderful place to sit and languish an afternoon away, people watching, listening to their resident harpist and eating some of the most delectable patisseries in Paris. Created by head pastry chef, Laurent Jeannin, he imagines and creates his patisseries with the precision of an architect, and as much love for colour as a painter. When the tea arrives, you cannot help but be dazzled by the beauty of the display. It seems a shame to eat it! The emphasis is on the sweet over the savoury so those with a sweet tooth will be in heaven.
We ate our tea in a sumptuous sofa below the hotel’s painting of Marie Antoniette (by Francoise-Hubert Drouais), the Queen (most likely, unfairly) associated with the unfeeling phrase ‘‘Let them eat cake!’’ Nevertheless, I am sure she would have approved of Le Bristol’s upholding of the French patisserie tradition, their meticulous attention to detail and the very beautiful surroundings.
Look out for Faroun, the hotel cat, and stay overnight to enjoy some of the most luxurious rooms in Paris. Stay here to swim in their unique top floor pool made from solid teak, which makes you feel as if you are on a 1920s sailing boat!
112 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris, France
WHERE TO SHOP
Rue de Saint Honore
This is the street to head to for high fashion, boutiques and labels – it is also where many Parisians go to be seen, at one of the little cafes or restaurants that line the side streets.
Karl Lagerfeld’s 7L on Rue de Lille is a book shop with class and style that begs you to turn the front cover of every book on every table – from photography to architectural design. if you want an alternative to Shakespeare & Company (undoubtedly the most famous bookshop in Paris), then this is as good a treat as any.
Saint Ouen Antiques Market
Neither souk nor bazaar but a combination of the two, the market at Saint Ouen is a haven for antiques from every era imaginable. Whether you prefer art deco tableaus or 19th century metalwork, there is a shop to suit all tastes, wants and needs. However, there is so much choice that it would be easy to spend all day on just one of the little streets, drinking in the history of each item as the keen vendor paints a vivid picture of how the broach in your hand came to be in his shop. You also know you’re in the right place when you spot the Antiques Roadshow filming on location in the shop next to you. A fascinating market with something for everyone, but you just might have to spend all day looking for it.
Louis XIV’s visionary home is a statement for opulence and extravagance and a superb example of the royal power and majesty wielded by the Bourbon kings.
A treasure trove of contemporary and classical art and sculpture that serves as a refreshing alternative to the Louvre. Set in the former Gare du Sud, the enormous vaulted ceilings and expanse of the setting only add to the feeling that a discovery of real proportions is being made.
Like Juliet’s balcony, Le Tour Eiffel is not just a symbol of Paris but also an allegorical icon of romanticism; there is simply no better way to view the most romantic city in the world than from the viewing gallery at the top. If you hate queues, avoid the lifts and climb the stairs to the first viewing platform as it’s well worth the reward and is not as arduous as many people think.
Napoleon’s Cenotaph resides at the rear of the Hotel des Invalides in one of the most impressive, striking and decadent mausoleums ever conceived. It took 20 years to create and cost close to 7 million francs when ‘‘le petit general’’ was finally interred in 1861 – a colossal sum of money especially considering that the building was already in existence as the former Royal Chapel of Louis XIV, the ‘‘Sun’’ King. The greatest sculptors, painters, stonemasons and craftsmen of the era were gathered to create a resting place worthy of an icon, under the leadership of the celebrated architect, Visconti. The scale and complexity is truly remarkable and a fitting, albeit indulgent, tribute to one of France’s great leaders.
Top Tip: For those travelling around the city, add this link to your phone: www.taxisg7.com. Parisian taxi drivers are not renowned for their charm, but TaxiG7 drivers are the exception. Providing a full and safe service including insider travellers’ tips, booster seats for children and a nursery rhyme play list should the occasion demand it!
PARIS BY NIGHT
The Luxury Channel contacted the travel expert’s at Parnassus Luxury Travel for their recommendations for making the most of Paris by night. Paris can be notoriously snooty about access so it’s probably best to go via one of the top concierge services in the world and give Parnassus a call on +44 (0) 203 417 9839.
Housed in the famous La Scala building, the space is as attractive as the people who frequent it, with mirrored pillars and illuminated cocktail tables.
Address: 188 bis Rue de Rivoli, 75001, Paris.
Nude Photography and two-way mirrors set a cosy scene for celebs and the city’s crème de la crème. Address: 6 Avenue Marceau, 75008, Paris.
The place to be seen in Paris. This holy trinity of upscale entertainment has built its name with a focus on progressive interior design, a historic location and a focus on do-it-all service for those who desire a cool night-on-the-town.
Address: 12 Rue de Presbourg, 75116, Paris.
Jacques Garcia’s imagination ran riot when he was commissioned to create Paris’ most talked about hotel, and his originality is evident in both the bar and courtyard cafe.
Address: 239 rue St-Honore, 75001, Paris.
Bar du Plaza Athénée
The concept of the bar is to respect its history, while at the same time introducing fresh and contemporary touches with an overall ambiance that is warm and surprising, elegant and sexy, nuanced and electric. The bar has created the Fashion Ice, a translucent and alcoholic ice pop (or better known as really classy jelly shots by Americans!).
Address: Avenue Montaigne 25 75008, Paris.
Le Raspoutine Bar
A Russian restaurant/cabaret bar classified as a historic monument and transformed into a club. The Czars would have been proud of this establishment!
Address: 58, rue de bassano 75008, Paris.
Leaving Paris is never easy, but the journey is made that much more exciting if you can travel home on the Venice Simplon – Orient Express. Check in at Gare du Nord and depart on a beautiful and historic train with five star dining and comfortable cabins. During the day, cabins are configured as a lounge with a banquet sofa, footstool, small table and wash-basin; at night, they transform into comfortable beds. The restaurants cars are so incredibly wonderful to dine in (especially the Cote d’ Azur car with Lalique friezes) and the food is exquisite. We had a champagne brunch with lobster and scrambled eggs – it was perfection.
Orient Express stationary is available for writing letters and it felt wonderfully old-school to post letters with their own stamps. Five hours later, you arrive in London refreshed, well-fed and, above all, relaxed. Admittedly, a train change is the only discontinuity in the experience but the transfer to a British Pullman is seamless and not as stressful as imagined. Brunch on the French side, afternoon tea on the Pullman – a perfect way to travel in comfortable luxury. A historic experience that will enchant you for years to come.