We have these moments, usually when we’re walking the dog and talking rubbish, when we go ‘we MUST go on a break to Paris’. We both adore France, but have never actually been to Paris together, unless you count Disneyland, and it’s been on our to do list for ages. Finally, this summer, we got to plan our trip together, and we decided to go all out: a wonderful, romantic, luxe short break – just the two of us. Here’s how we got on.
If you’re treating yourself to a luxury break, the first thing you need to do is get there in style, and that means the Business Premier service on Eurostar. We set off early in the morning, and it’s so nice to be able to use the Business Premier lounge, to sit and have a coffee and pastry and read a magazine. When you’re on board, the seats are lovely and comfy, and the breakfast is amazing – it’s been created with Raymond Blanc and was quite delicious – airlines take note! You can even buy your metro tickets on board, to save you the job as soon as you get into Paris.
The Métro de Paris is a dream: easy to negotiate, clearly marked and with wide, airy platforms. We challenged ourselves to use our rusty GCSE French while we were there, and didn’t get lost once, which I thought was quite impressive!
Our first stop was the stunning Le Bristol hotel. I’ve always wanted to stay here, and from the moment the very polite uniformed doorman takes your luggage, the whole experience is truly magical – absolute and utter luxury. Staff are polite and friendly and the rooms are – well, have a look! Ours was sumptuously decorated in rich creams with muted florals and checks with a touch of rich russet. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to a suite with a huge lounge area and windows overlooking the beautiful Le Bristol garden. The whole place was heavenly, with an enormous marble bathroom with La Prairie products (and a bath big enough for a rugby team), chandeliers, rich wood and gilt. I’d happily live there forever. Oh, and the view over the rooftops from some of the windows? Pure Ratatouille (above).
As an example of the service at Le Bristol, I realised that I’d forgotten my moisturiser. I thought I might be able to borrow a smidge from the spa. Two seconds after my phone call to reception, this appeared:
Still, seeing as we’d come to explore, we decided to resist the temptation of the enormous bath and take a wander. We were lucky to visit when the weather was warm, and Le Bristol is within walking distance of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower, and we walked to the tower, before heading back to the Champs-Élysées for a quick, eye-wateringly expensive bite to eat, a glass of wine and a lovely bit of people watching.
Later, we walked around in the eerily quiet streets – the only people around seemed to be police, setting up ready for the Bastille Day celebrations the next day.
We stumbled upon a cute little restaurant called Villa Spicy – there were quite a few people in there so we decided to join them and it ended up being rather a good decision. We started with minted green beans with slivers of parmesan and chunks of really good, chewy bread, then we had delicious, delicate sea bream with ratatouille, and finished off with toasted brioche, smothered in caramel and served with vanilla ice cream. All this was washed down with a very good Provençal rosé. A very good start to the trip. Back at Le Bristol, we headed to the gorgeous bar for a glass of Miraval rosé and a quick game of ‘spot the most expensive handbag’, before heading up to bed, exhausted.
The next day we were woken by an aerial flypast (which we missed) and the sound of brass bands marching past the hotel. Breakfast at Le Bristol is an absolute joy, and we dined on perfect poached eggs, ham and tomato, plus pastries and more, all with a view of the pretty garden.
Venturing out onto the bustling streets, we were caught up in the crowds and went with the flow for a little while before wandering to the nearest Métro station and making our way to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Now, I didn’t deliberately set out for this trip to be some sort of Disney pilgrimage, but y’know, you can’t look at the Cathédrale without imagining Quasimodo hiding amongst the spires. It really is the most beautiful building (there are free tours too, if you don’t mind queuing).
We spent a while mesmerised by a particularly brilliant opera singing busker, before wanding north, past the Hotel de Ville, to explore the cobbled streets of Le Marais.
Le Marais is one of my favourite parts of Paris. It’s lovely just to wander in this old Jewish quarter of Paris and have a nose in the shops, and it’s absolutely imperative to join the queue for falafels to scoff in the pretty public gardens of Les Jardins de Rosiers – Joseph-Migneret, and then eat ice creams while lying on the grass and watching the clouds in the lovely place des Vosges.
After this, we took the Métro back to Le Bristol, ready to check out. I’m determined to return one day and have a longer stay. There’s nothing quite like it. Plus, I missed seeing the two resident Burmese cats, Fa-Raon and little Kléopatre. Guests often encounter them in the lift of just milling about the garden, but we didn’t spot them, so obviously we’ll need to go back!
In part two, we check in to our next hotel and experience a bit of ‘ooh la la!’ at Le Moulin Rouge. À bientôt!
To the staff of Le Bristol, for taking such fantastic care of us. Rates at Le Bristol start from €830 (£586) per night, room only. lebristolparis.com
To Eurostar, for whizzing us swiftly to Paris (fares in Standard start from £36 one way, Standard Premier from £94.50 one way, and Business Premier from £245 one way). Visit eurostar.com. Oh, and by the way, Eurostar currently has a sale on, which is worth a look: there are all sorts of deals available from 27th August to 8th September for travel valid until late September 2015. There are also 140,000 seats available at £32 one way for standard travel from London, Ashford or Ebbsfleet to Paris, Brussels, Lille or Calais for travel from 22 September to 16 December 2015.
This post was added to #CityTripping – a collection of city-related travel posts collated by Cathy from Mummy Travels.