It had been far too long since I last stayed in the French capital, but after an invitation from the Mövenpick Hotel in Paris to visit, how could I refuse? From St Pancras to Gare du Nord is just 2hrs 15 minutes via Eurostar, planting you right in the heart of the most romantic city in the world. No taxi from the airport, no liquid limits, no queuing and no fuss.
If you’re planning a weekend escape, here’s a few ideas to rekindle your love affair with Paris.
Fondation Louis Vuitton
After 7 long years of construction the amazing, Frank Gehry designed Louis Vuitton Foundation is now open and in addition to a permanent exhibition, the 126,000-square-foot space is also home to one-off events and a range of cool culture activities.
On now – Keys To A Passion
– until 6th July 2015
Gathering an incredible selection of famous and (in)famous pieces from the world of modern art, ‘Keys to a passion’ includes work from Munch, Matisse, Rothko, Dix and many more. Watch the video for more info.
For current info on Fondation Louis Vuitton visit www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/en
Fondation Louis Vuitton
8, Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi
Bois de Boulogne – 75116 – Paris
Tel : +33 1 40 69 96 00
Tour de Paris
Unlike London, Paris is great place to see by car. www.4roues-sous-1parapluie.com offer fantastic tours of the French capital in open top, classic Citroen 2CV’s, complete with authentic moustached French drivers complete with stripey T-shirt. Choose from a romantic ‘After dark’ trip of the major sites, to a ‘Secret Paris’ tour of the more unusual and less well known parts of the city – like the steps of St Etienne du Mont (rue de la Montagne Geneviève) the place where Owen Wilson goes back in time in the film ‘Midnight in Paris’. All the drivers speak English and you’ll turn heads wherever you go.
Prices start from €20 per person, for more info visit www.4roues-sous-1parapluie.com
There are some good restaurants and bars in the St Martins canal district; have a drink at Chez Prune with its high ceilings and low lighting, or if you’re in the Latin Quarter go to Chez Gladines, it’s cramped and busy, but cheap and its Spanish/French Basque cuisine is legendary.
But, if you fancy something a bit different, get in touch with Madame Girodin (via tour guides www.pariszigzag.com) and she’ll cook a fabulous 3 course lunch in her beautiful Parisian apartment close to the Musée d’Orsay for you and your companions.
The atmosphere is relaxed, everything is home-made and very… French. Wonderful salads, foie gras, a selection of local cheeses but her pièce de résistance is Tarte Tatin washed down by some fine vino! It’s the perfect way to slow down and feel like a genuine Parisian for a few hours.
Prices from around €30 per person for more info visit www.pariszigzag.com
For lovers, where better in Paris to walk hand in hand than through the cobbled streets of Montemarte? Stand below the white domed Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and gaze across a city in love. This is where Amelie worked as a waitress and where the street artists need a special licence to paint you. Dalí, Claude Monet, Mondrian, Picasso, Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh all lived in this area at one time.
In 1905 Picasso painted a canvas of the famous Lapin Agile, caberet club just at the bottom of the hill below Montemarte Vineyard and gave it to musician Pere Freae. There it stayed for 7 years until Pere sold it for $20. In 1989 it was sold again, this time for $41 million! Despite the large contingency of selfie taking tourists, Montemarte still has considerable charm and next to the gift shops you can pluck genuine artistic history from the air. Quaint to is the Latin Quarter, Paris’s first district, as day turns to night a trip along the Seine is compulsory and the Eiffel Tower still manages to impress with its sheer size and dazzling lightshow.
WHERE TO STAY
Mövenpick Paris Hotel
Sometimes hotels that are popular with business travellers can feel a bit soulless, however the Mövenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly has a contemporary feel that is warm, inviting and chic – even for this stylish town.
Situated in an exclusive district in the North-West of Paris, the four-star Swiss owned property has excellent transport connections via ‘Les Sablons’ and ‘Anatole France’ Metro stations. Both are close and you can walk to the Champs Elysées and Arc de Triomphe in around 25 minutes. The hotel has 281 rooms and suites, many of which have views of the Eiffel Tower, a fitness centre not mention a zen garden that is perfect in the Summer.
If you want to eat at the hotel, the brasserie, “Victor Hugo” offers an excellent range of French, Swiss and International cuisine, together with a choice of ‘go healthy’ lower fat dishes. The ‘Pan-fried Whole Sole’ I tried was fantastic, so too was the ‘Délice de Mousse, Bavarois au Chocolat, Crème de Marron’ dessert (out of this world). They’re dedicated to sourcing local seasonal food and the famous Swiss attention to detail and quality permeates the complete dining experience. It’s popular with the locals too and in the Summer you can enjoy Al fresco dinning on the garden terrace.
A LA VOTRE SANTE
After dinner head to the hotels ’58 Bar & Lounge’ and try one of the 70+ different varieties of Champagne. The knowledgeable staff enthuse passionately about the small French vineyards they source their wine from and for seasoned quaffers there are always new varieties to sample. Prices start from around €60, climbing to €820 for a magnum of Dom Pérignon ‘02 (and beyond). If you’re looking for something really special that won’t break the bank try a bottle of Henri Giraud Champagne (€120) it’s not the cheapest, but it’s up there with the best.
Mövenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly – From €146.00 per night
58 Boulevard Victor Hugo, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine
For more info visit www.moevenpick-hotels.com
Eurostar to Paris
Eurostar operates up to 18 daily services from London St pancras International to Paris from £69 return.
For more info visit www.eurostar.com