Ironically the only sensible way to get to the Paris Motor Show from London is via Eurostar on the train. The amount of effort involved in going by plane, i.e. getting to the airport, parking, check-in, waiting, flying, and then more waiting is just too much when you can be in the centre of Paris in two hours, relaxed and ready to go.
If you can afford the extra, a Business Premier ticket adds a welcome degree of flexibility to your travel plans. For example, if you need time to dot the ‘i’s’, on a deal or enjoy a glass of wine from the bottle of 2009 L’Esprit de Basté your friend has just ordered from the Le Baron Rouge you can relax and just get on the next train instead. Also included is a light Raymond Blanc devised meal en-route, complimentary drinks magazines and newspapers.
Check-in time is only 10 minutes before departure (try that on an EasyJet flight). Standard Premier is includes a light meal, a selection of magazines and as with the regular fare you only have to be there 30mins before. There are no weight limits on luggage and the allowance is two bags, so if ou can carry them, they’ll be accepted on board.
Straight from the train at Gare Du Nord I’m heading to Mama Shelter, a Hotel in the vicinity of the last proper village in the city limits of Paris, Charonne. It still feels like a ‘real ‘place, firmly resisting the gentrification from soul-less big business that threatens much of the western world. It’s also very close to the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery, last resting place of among many others, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Frédéric Chopin, so creative forces literally ooze from the soil in these parts.
It was in this corner of Paris that Club Med founders the Trigano family in collaboration with architect Roland Castro and designer Philippe Starck realised their dream for Mama Shelter and it’s somewhere I’ve been wanting to visit since they opened in 2008. It’s grown into a hip hang-out for locals and tourists alike with a bohemian vibe, without the sometime accompanied pretentiousness. Perhaps its slightly off-the-beaten-track location discourages a few (Alexandre Dumas, Porte de Bagnolet and Gambetta stations are all about 10mins walk, the Latin Quarter about 30mins on the Metro) but it means they can keep the room prices down. Currently there is a Sunday Special offer on for just €89 Euros (£70) for two including free Wi-Fi, about the same price as someones sofa in central London.
On arrival, the friendly receptionist recommends some nice bars and places to eat in the area and the Flèche d’Or, an excellent live music venue is just across the street, but I’m only here for one night, so I opt to soak up Mama’s hospitality and a large glass of House Red on the premises.
The ground floor is split between 3 main areas, the main reception, a pizzeria with two long tables and benches either side of the room, and a larger more sprawling, loung-ey area with a tiny stage, sofas and more seating. There is a patio area where smoking is not so much allowed as actively encouraged. I’m here during Paris Fashion Week so the place is full of young, good-looking, fashion-y people who normally I would go out of my way to avoid, but under Mama’s roof all are equal. The lighting is kept low, so it has more of a nightclub, bar than a Hotel and you can still order food at midnight. The decoration is fabulously eclectic and quirky, from inflatable rubber rings, to the quotes and fascinating facts written all over the place, the life, the walls and floors, talking of which virtually all the carpets are black and they must be a nightmare to keep looking clean. I wonder if Phillipe thought about that on the drawing board?
There is also a roof garden, alas the weather is such I decline to brave it out there this time, I have an early start so after a tasty, crispy pizza and another quick glass of House Red I retire for the evening.
Up in my room I can’t hear a thing from downstairs so they’ve either all gone to bed too or the wall insulation is pretty good. I’ve only booked a single, but the bed is big enough for two. There is a microwave oven and instead of a TV, a 27” iMac attached to the wall for web browsing, TV and lots of free movies on demand, some even have people with clothes on in them. There are Scooby-Doo and Darth Vadar face masks hanging either side of the bed and I’m sure with company these are a lot more fun. After a quick browse I succumb to the cotton satin sheets and suddenly it’s morning time again. Mama’s breakfast is excellent and so too is the coffee, with it I’m ready to face the Metro and Porte de Versailles Parc des Expositions awaits.
If you plan on visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery I’d definitely recommend a couple of nights at Mama Shelter, one to explore the neighbourhood and another to try out Mama’s restaurant and face masks.
109, Rue de BagnoletParis (75020)
MÉTRO : Alexandre Dumas/ Gambetta/ Porte de Bagnolet
TÉL : 01 43 48 48 48
For more info visit
EuroStar to Paris
Eurostar operates up to 18 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris with return fares from £69. Fastest London-Paris journey time is 2hr 15 minutes. For tickets and more info visit eurostar.com or 03448 224 777
Child fares start from £49 return and children under 4 years-old travel free (not allocated a seat). Standard Premier fares start from £189 return.
This feature can also be read on Issuu.com in edition Flush Magazine #15HERE