The trusted and true recipe for a fantastic getaway to Paris must include the finest of ingredients: fun-loving friends, hotels that provide everyone with room to breathe, chic shopping opportunities, unique experiences and authentic French dining. I flew from Boston to Paris to meet up with my good friend, Christine, to catch up on life… Parisian style.
Where to Stay
The Grand Powers Hotel, located one block from the Avenue Champs des Élysées, is a boutique five-star hotel with spacious rooms and suites perfect for families, but in our case even more impeccable for friends traveling together who want to chat the night away while sipping libations with a view of La Tour Eiffel. The art-deco décor has been jazzed up with brightly colored lacquered trim and modern furnishings. No television in sight, they have cleverly disguised it inside the large gilded mirror so the rooms’ elegance remains. The hotel has a warm and inviting feeling, partially due to the staff who greet each visitor with a genuine smile.
Jet-lagged guests will love the fact that spa appointments can be made same-day, in case a last-minute need for a massage should arise. Brunch at Café 52 is NOT to be missed. They serve everything from eggs as you like them to the trendy Poke bowls. There is a good selection of wines and spirits and they make a killer Mojito, don’t you know?
Tip: Each floor has a different color theme; choose from powdered pink, celadon green or blue, but I would advise taking a room on the upper floors to maximize the view of the Eiffel Tower.
Le Burgundy Hotel is a truly special property in Paris. We stayed in their mini-mansion, two separate suites (The Tuileries and The Opéra) joined by a private hallway. The combination of the family-style layout and sophisticated design of the suites made us feel like we were in our own Parisian apartments, verses a hotel. There was an airy terrace off the first-floor suite which was an outdoor oasis in the middle of the city.
The attention to detail in the chic accommodations was evident the minute we walked in – lovely sitting rooms, fitted out closets, spacious desk areas, plugs galore for our devices, and an iPad set-up for easy-to-book spa appointments, room service and any concierge needs. We each agreed that this is a place to park yourself for a while and feel right at home.
The concierge services at this hotel are off the charts. They can organize anything you dream up. We were delighted when they booked us private tours at both Chanel and Dior’s flagship stores located just steps from the doors of the hotel. There was nothing finer than sipping champagne while a dedicated clerk brought items we were interested in buying to our cozy perch in the second-floor salon. We skipped the queues and were out with a flash once we decided upon our final acquisitions.
Tip: The Opéra Suite bedroom closes off from the main living area for privacy. It has an additional closet and half-bath off the sitting room that is handy if you have children staying in the suite with you.
The abundance of high-speed trains in and out of Paris makes day travel to remote spots easily accessible. We woke up early one morning and headed to station Montparnasse to meet our Walks guide for a Bay Tour and visit to Mont Saint-Michel, an UNESCO World Heritage site. Our local naturalist guide, Olivier, regaled us with tales of the tidal Bay that surrounds the 1,000+ year old Abbey fortress. Because we used Walks (tour company), we had an exclusive opportunity to venture onto the beach at low tide and walk completely around the fortress. Afterwards, we were afforded plenty of time to explore the Abbey in earnest, hunt for souvenirs and dine on a typically local lunch of fluffy omelets, mussels and fries.
Tips: Walks provides shore shoes for sure footing and there is a spot to wash your feet afterwards. Bring a towel to dry off and use a backpack while walking on the quicksand so your hands are free to brace you in the event of a fall. It’s a long day, so bring snacks and bottled water for the all-day excursion.
Where to Eat
Fine Dining: If authentic Burgundian food with a modern bent pleases your palette, this is the place for you. Le Baudelaire is a Michelin one-star restaurant with a flair for the dramatic. Audacious dishes by Executive Chef Guillaume Goupil – the sea urchin starter and the lobster with marjoram leaves in a citrus broth emulsion were highlights along with the mouth-watering desserts by Pastry Chef Pascal Hainigue. (Tip: Order the tasting menu and allow the sommelier to pair courses with the perfect wines for an outstanding experience.)
Terrace Dining: Hotel Lutetia finally opened up after a several years renovation and they smartly added an open-air terrace for dining. The Brasserie Patio sits on the intersection of the bustling rue de Sèvres and Place le Corbusier. Great location for people watching and an early evening dinner. Super appetizers and well-crafted cocktails are their specialty.
Casual Café: When you want a simple, (but sure thing) lunch, then head to Le Saint-Andre. It’s a tiny brasserie with a big heart. Not gourmet, but consistently decent food and friendly service. Their salads are wonderful, loads of fresh veggies and if you want some good old fashion French fries and a steak you can have that there too. Located in the touristy Place Saint-Michel area, it’s a convenient place to stop for a quick bite.